Microsoft recently made the beta version of Office 2010 available. We answer your burning questions regarding the productivity suite.

Last week Microsoft made the beta version of Office 2010 publicly available.

The preview, which is not limited to a certain number of users, is free to use and won't expire until October 31 next year.

So where can you get your hands on Office 2010, how do you install it, what do you need to run it, and how do you get rid of it if it's a can of worms?

Fear not, we've answered these and your other burning questions.

When can I download the Office 2010 beta?

That's easy: now. Microsoft rolled out the beta during a keynote at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) last week.

Where do I get it?

The public download is available from a dedicated page on Microsoft's website

Office 2010, by the way, is the first Microsoft suite to be offered in both 32- and 64bit versions. Choose the version that fits your operating system.

You can check to see whether you have a 32bit or 64bit edition of Windows 7 by clicking the Start button, then clicking Control Panel and System Maintenance. Click System.

Follow the instructions here for checking Vista and XP.

Is Microsoft limiting who can download the beta, like it did with the Technical Preview, or the number of people who can have it?

No, there is no numerical cap on the number of downloads for Office 2010.

It's unclear whether Microsoft will set a time limit on Office 2010 Beta, as it did for Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) last summer.

"I'm not sure if we have a specific plan to shut off availability at some point," said Takeshi Numoto, the corporate vice president for Office.

Microsoft does plan, however, on making sure "millions and millions" of users are able to download and try the preview, Numoto added.

What edition of Office 2010 is the beta?

At the November 18 debut, the version offered everyone was Office Professional Plus 2010, the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink collection.

That's odd, even ironic, since Professional Plus is the feature-laden edition that will be available only to enterprises and organisations that purchase licenses in volume when the final ships next year.

Professional Plus includes Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, SharePoint Workspace - formerly called Groove - and Communicator.

Earlier on the Office 2010 Beta site, Microsoft had listed three different versions that would be made available to users: Professional Plus, and the to-be-sold-at-retail Office Home and Business, and Office Professional.

So, what happened to the other versions?

Why aren't they part of the beta? Microsoft's Numoto said the company still plans to offer versions other than Professional, but wouldn't say when.

"We'll make additional offerings after today," he said, getting only as specific as "fairly shortly".

If Microsoft comes through on that promise, it will end up delivering three of the five editions of Office during the beta.

A trio will be sold at retail - the low-end Office Home and Student, as well as Office Home and Business and Office Professional - while two Office Standard and Office Professional Plus, will be sold only to volume licensing customers.

NEXT PAGE: System requirements

  1. We answer your burning questions on Microsoft's latest productivity suite
  2. System requirements
  3. Can I upgrade the Office 2010 technical preview to the Beta version?
  4. Click-To-Run
  5. Office online