After speculation emerged earlier this week indicating that Microsoft had wrapped up the next generation of the Office System and was gearing up to announce hitting the RTM development milestone, the company confirmed officially that Office 2010 has been released to manufacturing. The Redmond company was reported to have signed off the successor of Office 2007 on April 12, 2010, although at that time it had yet to decide the specific Build for the RTM release. Microsoft only confirmed the RTM of Office 2010 on April 15th, 2010.

“I am very excited to share some great news with you. Earlier today we reached the release-to-manufacturing (RTM) milestone for Office 2010, SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010,” revealed Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president, Microsoft Office.

However, Microsoft is yet to offer a specific general availability deadline for the next iteration of Office. Numoto did nothing more than underline what the company has already been saying, that Office 2010 will be released to the public in June 2010. From what I’m hearing, the company is eyeing planning availability for mid-June, however, there’s no official confirmed date at this point in time. More »

Microsoft is gearing up to finalize the next version of the Office System, and the company is expected to introduce special deals to accompany the product’s launch. One such offering is now live. The Redmond company is providing free copies of Office 2010 via the Office Excitement Kit website, according to Lesley Rubin, Microsoft Central Region-Partner marketing manager. Users interested in this offering, should hurry, as the availability of free Office 2010 licenses is limited.

“What’s all the buzz around Office 2010? The powerful, new features in Microsoft Office 2010 give you the best productivity experience across the PC, phone, and browser. Complete at least three training courses on Office 2010 to get a free copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2010!” a message on the Office Excitement Kit site reads.

Ahead of registering for free copies of Office 2010, customers will need to first verify the qualification of the Office Excitement Kit. In order to do this, users will be required to complete a set of no less than three training courses on Office 2010 from the Microsoft Partner University.

“Test your knowledge and receive a free copy of Microsoft Office Professional 2010! Here’s how— complete at least three training courses by visiting the Microsoft Partner University today. Once you have completed your training, please visit to register. More »

According to Microsoft, there are no less than two main categories of functionality when it comes down to integration with the next version of the Office System. Instant messaging (IM) applications can hook into Office 2010 only at a basic level, or go deeper and deliver presence integration. Microsoft has made available for download a document which outlines “Presence Integration between IM Applications and Microsoft Office 2010.” The resource is offered for free via the Microsoft Download Center, along with another document titled: Office Communicator 2007: Presence Integration Between IM Applications and 2007 Microsoft Office System.

“With basic IM and Presence integration, a third party can use IM applications to leverage Presence and integrate IM functionality in Office applications within the following: Outlook 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Word 2010, Microsoft Excel 2010 and Microsoft Powerpoint 2010,” the company explained.

Of course, at the same time, third-party developers can go deeper than just basic IM and Presence Integration. In this regard, instant messaging applications can integrate with Office 2010 components for search, contacts and even conferencing features. More »