Microsoft Office 2010 hit a big milestone on Friday with its 'release to manufacturing', paving the way for the software's delivery to business customers starting on April 27, Microsoft said on Friday.
Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 have all hit RTM status, meaning the final code is locked down and ready to be delivered to PC makers, burned onto discs or made available for download at Microsoft's website.
The products will now be rolled out in stages. Volume licence customers with Software Assurance will be able to download them in English from the Volume Licensing Service Center starting April 27, and volume customers without Software Assurance will be able to get them from Microsoft partners starting May 1, according to a Microsoft blog post.
RTM is a big day for the Microsoft engineers who have been slogging away to get the software out the door. It's also a big day for Microsoft, which still gets a hefty chunk of its profits from Office, even as low-cost, web-based alternatives from Google, Zoho and others gain in popularity.
In fact, some of the biggest changes to Office 2010 are online. The software includes Office Web Apps, which are lightweight versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote that can be accessed through a browser from desktop PCs and smartphones.
Microsoft thanked the "more than 5,000 organizations and partners" who helped test the 2010 products. It said 7.5 million people have downloaded the beta of Office 2010 since its release in November, three times the number who downloaded the Office 2007 beta.
Office 2010 will hit retail stores in June.