Subscribers to Microsoft Corp.'s developer and IT professional services are first in line to get Office 2010, which will be released to MSDN and TechNet on Thursday, the company has confirmed.
MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) and TechNet subscribers can download the production versions of Office 2010 starting April 22, five days before volume license customers with Software Assurance will be able to obtain the new application suite.
Last Friday, Microsoft announced that Office 2010 had reached the RTM, or release to manufacturing, milestone, meaning that the company had declared the code completed and was set to ship it to computer makers and media duplicators.
Office 2010 will hit U.S. retail in June; Microsoft has not yet set a specific on-sale date. Users can now place pre-order three editions -- Home and Student 2010, Home and Business 2010, and Professional 2010 -- at the company's online store, as well at some third-party outlets, including Amazon.com.
People who have installed the Office 2010 beta -- Microsoft said more than 7.5 million copies have been downloaded since last November -- can continue to use it until Oct. 31, 2010, when the preview expires and stops working.
The move to let MSDN and TechNet subscribers get first crack at Office 2010 is in stark contrast to the situation two years ago, when Microsoft announced that those users would not get an early look at Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1). The company later changed its mind after subscribers complained that leaked copies had already been posted to the Internet. MSDN and TechNet subscribers also ripped Microsoft in April 2008 over plans to issue Windows XP SP3 to them at the same time the upgrade would be available to the general public.
However, Microsoft offered Windows 7 RTM first to MSDN and TechNet subscribers, posting the new operating system on the services two days before volume license customers with Software Assurance were able to download it.
Users who purchased an eligible copy of Office 2007 starting March 5, 2010, and those who buy the older version of the suite through Sept. 30, will be allowed to download a corresponding edition of Office 2010 for free when it releases to retail in June.
Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.