Microsoft Office 2010 goes to war with Google Docs

It seems the hints from former Microsoft insider and uber-blogger Robert Scoble were right – Microsoft is gearing up to announce Office 2010 ton

It is thought that Microsoft will make the Office Web Applications free as part of Windows Live in an attempt to halt the rise of Google Apps which includes the Office-like Google Docs.

A technical preview of the Office 2010 desktop suite has been released to a select few already. Office Web Apps are set to be demoed tonight but will not be available to testers until later in the year.  

Information on what we can expect from Office 2010 was leaked when the product website went live early. It was swiftly taken down but lives on in Google Cache. Office Web Applications will include versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and OneNote (Microsoft's collaborative productivity app) hosted in the cloud.

OneNote, which will allow you to store and share notes including text, photos, video and audio, sounds strikingly similar to one of our favourite productivity apps Evernote. Like that app, OneNote will allow you to access and create notes online and from your smartphone.

Microsoft describes its online suite as a companion to the traditional desktop applications. The Office Web Applications will allow users to access documents anywhere in the world and simultaneously share and work on documents with others. It's a familiar set up to users of Google Docs but Office Web Applications will bring the familiar Office interface with them.

The site also points to new versions of Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook optimised for mobile phone screens and reveals a number of new features in the full fat applications. Word will now prominently feature a co-authoring mode while Powerpoint gains the ability to broadcast presentations via the web. Functions like printing have also now been corralled in a new area called "Backstage". How very rock'n'roll.  

Outlook also gains a new threaded conversation feature (similar to the one present in Gmail) but Microsoft claims it's new ignore option (which kills any thread you don't want to be part of for good) is a breakthrough.

Let us know: do you think Microsoft will be able to ward of Google Apps and Google Chrome?

Keep your peepers trained on for official announcements.