Office Live

Can Microsoft beat Google at its own (free) game?

June 15, 2010: 11:09 AM ET
Stephen Elop

Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's Business Division, has pushed for the latest version of Office to fully embrace the cloud. Photo: Microsoft.

Despite impressive efforts from several rivals, Microsoft Office still rules the roost when it comes to office software. But can it hang on for much longer?

Let's set the record straight: Windows may have heft. Facebook may have buzz. But there is still no bigger name in the pantheon of global software than Microsoft Office.

On the occasion of today's consumer launch of Office 2010 (downloads starting at $119 for Home and Student, up to $349 for Professional), it's a convenient time to take stock of the franchise. Though it might seem like a simple package -- Word for documents, Excel for spreadsheets, PowerPoint for presentations, Outlook for email, plus a few other goodies -- it is vitally important to Microsoft (MSFT). The software giant's Office-anchored business division accounts for a staggering third of its revenue and more than half of its income. That means it accounts for roughly $20 billion in annual sales.

But is Office in a slow decline? More

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