The latest edition of the Fantastic Four of productivity—Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook—is worthy but not actually worth buying, writes Farhad Manjoo for Slate. Out next year but now available in a beta edition, Microsoft Office 2010 offers some definite improvements: It lets you preview how text or images you're copying will look before you paste them, for one. But Manjoo can't help but wonder why he even needs a new version—the 2007 and even 2003 editions are fine—and if the product has much of a future.
To compete with the likes of Google Docs, the company is both building its own set of free, limited-featured web versions of Office and replacing Microsoft Works on its new computers with a free, scaled-up Office Starter Edition. This is necessary to compete, writes Manjoo, but may hurt the software giant in the end. "You used to have to pay several hundred dollars for a copy of Office, now, you don't really have to."