Office 2010 begins Technical Preview: Office Web Applications available through Windows Live at no cost

microsoft-office At the Worldwide Partners Conference in New Orleans today, Microsoft announced a “major milestone and Technical Preview” for Office 2010, with “tens of thousands” of beta invitations to the technical preview going out beginning today (just received ours this evening 🙂 ).  In addition, Microsoft announced three ways for users to access the new Office Web Applications, lightweight web based versions of Word, PowerPoint, Excel,  and OneNote:

Office Web applications will be available in three ways: through Windows Live, where more than 400 million consumers will have access to Office Web applications at no cost; on-premises for all Office volume licensing customers including more than 90 million Office annuity customers; and via Microsoft Online Services, where customers will be able to purchase a subscription as part of a hosted offering.

No real word as of yet as to how Office Live Workspaces fits in to the equation, here’s what we got when we asked:

Office Live services will continue to be offered and evolve over time.  As we announced last November, we will deliver the current Office Live services through Windows Live as our single consumer destination. We are excited that we will have the opportunity to expose great Office Live features such as online document sharing and collaboration to the more than 500 million Windows Live users.

While the news that Office Web applications will be available for on-premises hosting will likely be good news to corporations that are leery of giving up their data to Microsoft (or Google), we’re more interested in how Office Live will “evolve”, how well connected the rest of Windows Live will be into the new services (SkyDrive access?).  The Technical Preview only contains the desktop versions of Office 2010, testing of the Office Web applications won’t happen until later this year.