Microsoft Office 2010 review

In tandem with Office Starter comes the Product Key Card. This scheme allows owners of PCs equipped with Office Starter a quick way of upgrading: enter the serial code printed on the Key Card and you’ll unlock the full features of whichever Office edition you buy.

Despite the convenience, most people should avoid going down this route, as in most cases it’s a false economy. For example, the Key Card version of Home and Student will cost £77 exc VAT, but that only buys you a single-PC licence rather than the three that come with the boxed version. And that licence is only for use with the PC that came with Office Starter: once it dies, you can’t transfer your copy of Office to a new system.

Choosing the right version

Ignoring the Product Key Card prices, the cheapest widely available edition of Office is Home and Student. This costs £94 exc VAT and includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. You can use it on up to three PCs, including laptops, in your household. If those applications meet your needs, it’s cracking value.

Microsoft Office 2010 suite versions, ratings and prices

Next up is Home and Business (replacing Small Business 2007). It costs £204 exc VAT and adds Outlook to the mix, while reducing the number of installations to two.

The other key difference is that you can use it in a commercial environment. Nevertheless, it misses out on a Recommended award due to the omission of Publisher: value for money isn’t its strength.

Then it’s Professional for £366 exc VAT, which adds Access and Publisher. The other key advantage is a year’s worth of technical support rather than 90 days for the lesser suites.

As with Home and Business, we’re not impressed by Office Professional’s value for money, especially when UK businesses will be charged around £90 more (tax aside) than their US counterparts.

It isn’t all doom and gloom, however, thanks to Microsoft’s Volume Licence schemes. To qualify, you only need to purchase five licences – that could be five copies of Office or three new PCs with Windows and Office licences. Volume licensing also brings Office Standard into reach, which may be the most suitable for smaller businesses.

Finally, students and educators in higher and further education with a valid email address can qualify for the Professional Academic edition. This includes all the same applications as Professional, but for a mere £43 exc VAT. It’s available from

We haven’t forgotten upgrade costs: with Office 2010, Microsoft has removed this option, because it claims not enough people bought them.
Office 2010 has a lot to offer, and if you choose carefully you should find the right version for your needs. Follow the links above to find out how we rate the individual applications.


Software subcategory Office software

Operating system support

Operating system Windows Vista supported? yes
Operating system Windows XP supported? yes
Operating system Linux supported? no
Operating system Mac OS X supported? no

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