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Microsoft's new version of Office 2010 is interesting in several ways, especially in its approach to green IT and cloud computing. It introduces a hybrid approach in which MS Office users can use "on premises" based software that is loaded on your PC for tasks that require full-featured tools, and you can also create, store, edit, share, and co-author office documents online at no cost so that they are accessible to you anywhere with an Internet connection.
The free online version of Microsoft Office 2010, called Office Web Apps for Home and School is free to anyone regardless of whether or not they use a desktop version of Microsoft Office. It is ad-supported and now available on Windows Live. Office Web Apps is the next iteration of Microsoft Office Live Workspace. It has scaled down versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint, and One Note, an application that creates and organizes free-form notes, ideas, to-do lists, and more.
The reason why Office Web Apps is regarded as a green technology is because it is cloud-based software that allows people to use minimal hardware ' essentially any device that gets you to the Internet like smartphones, netbooks, or tablet computers. More generally, the basic advantages of software as a servcie (SaaS) cloud computing are that people don't have to maintain infrastructure for applications, which saves labor costs, as well as electricity costs.
In addition to the free, ad-supported version of Office Web Apps on Windows Live, there is also a version of Microsoft Office Web Apps for Organizations, which allows organizations to set up your own intranet using your own server. Web Apps for Organizations is free with the purchased or donated copy of Office 2010 and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2010. This version stores shared files in your own SharePoint website, rather than on the Windows Live website.
SharePoint is an application that is now closely integrated with MS Office 2010. It creates and hosts intranet web pages, so that users in your organization can share and collaborate on Microsoft Office documents.
Multiple people that use the intranet can open, edit, and save changes to an Office file from a SharePoint repository at the same time. SharePoint keeps a record of what edits were made by each user, similar to the Track Changes feature in Word. In an organization running SharePoint Server 2010 an employee using Office 2010 desktop version and an employee using the Office Apps (any version) can collaborate with each other, even if the employee using Office Apps doesn't have Office 2010 installed.
Nonprofits and libraries can get two different donated desktop versions of Office 2010 from TechSoup. Microsoft Office Standard 2010 is available at an admin fee of $24 per license. Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 is available at an admin fee of $31 per license. And again, each of these includes access to the Web Apps for Organizations online collaboration functions.
The Standard MS Office 2010 Suite includes:
The Professional Plus suite adds the Access, Communicator, InfoPath, and SharePoint Workspace applications, as well as the Business Contact Manager add-on for Outlook. Both desktop versions come in 32-bit and 64-bit versions.
TechSoup also carries donated SharePoint 2010. SharePoint Server 2010 Standard Edition is available to nonprofits and libraries for an admin fee of $269.
If you'd like to see more detail on how Office 2010 desktop version and Office Web Apps interact with each other, check out the piece that Elliot Harmon and I recently did, What Your Organization Should Know About Office 2010. That's an in-depth article that has good clear screen shots and more detailed explanations.
If you'd like to see in more detail how SharePoint 2010 works with Office 2010 check out Chris Peters' SharePoint 2010 for Nonprofits and Libraries.
Learn more about cloud computing for your nonprofit or library on TechSoup's cloud page.