Microsoft Office 2010 UK pricing announced

Hegemonic software house Microsoft has launched the UK pricing for its range of Office software which will arrive in June.

The company has simplified its once excruciatingly complex pricing structure down to just three paid-for products, and one free offering.

Office Starter is a free taster featuring hobbled versions Word and Excel, and takes over where Office Works left off. Expect to see this hogging loads of hard drive space on millions of newly-bought PCs any time now. Microsoft is obviously hoping to indoctrinate users into the Office workspace using the exact same UI and appearance as the full blown versions of the software, but with some sophisticated features not included.

Office Home and Student includes Word, Excel, Powerpoint, OneNote and Web Apps and will retail for £90 for the keycard version and £110 boxed. There's no Outlook included in this version and the EULA is for non-commercial use only.

Office Home and Business includes all of the above plus Outlook and is licensed for commercial use. It will sell for £190 for the keycard download and £240 if you want a box.

Office Professional has everything previously mentioned, plus Publisher, Access and 'premium technical support'. Expect to pay £300 for the download or £400 for the full package.

Microsoft will also sell you any of the above-mentioned applications separately for £120 (except One Note which is £70).

With the likes of Google and OpenOffice.org snapping at Microsoft's heels with free productivity software, we're surprised that the pricing of the basic package has been kept so high.

Office Starter may have an impact on first-time users just because it will be lurking on millions of hard drives the first time someone tries to open a .doc file. But Google's move into the cloud, and Open Office's constant tailgating of the software giant must be worrying.

Office sales once accounted for a third of Microsoft's income but competition from cost-free upstarts is expected to begin impacting on the company's bottom line sooner rather than later.

Microsoft can see the dark clouds on the horizon and it knows it has to do something. We just don't think Office Starter, severely disabled and plastered with nagware as it is, is enough.

Punting an unhobbled, non-commercial version of Office at say £20 would have users new and old shying away from the young pretenders and falling back into the warm embrace of Microsoft familiarity in their millions.

As things stands, we can see no real reason for home users to go anywhere other than down the Open Office route. The software is compliant, compatible, familiar and free.