Office 2010: The 64-bit Question

Office 2007 introduced a lot of new features and a brand new Ribbon interface that has fans either loving it or despising the way the whole thing functioned. That was three years ago. With 2010, a new Office release is scheduled to hit stores in June, earlier if you keep your eyes peeled on torrent and direct download trackers.

Office 2010 will be the first to come with the 64-bit goodness that Microsoft has been slowly rolling out. However, Microsoft is very careful this time with their approach to 64-bit by rolling out a pretty big disclaimer on the potential problems you will face if you choose to install this version over the 32-bit ‘standard’ version.

“We strongly recommend most users install 32-bit version of Office 2010 on both 32 and 64-bit Operating Systems because currently many common add-ins for Office will not function in the 64-bit edition. The 64-bit installation of Microsoft Office 2010 products will be available for users who commonly use very large documents or data set and need Excel 2010 programs to access greater than 2GB of memory. There may be technical issues with the 64-bit version and in order to install a 64-bit version of Office 2010 product users must have a 64-bit supported operating system on their PC,” Microsoft notes.

However, I’ve been testing out the Beta version and have no problems with 64-bit compatibility as I don’t use any other addons besides the one installed natively by Office. I suppose for bigger organizations who write their own custom addons, the 64-bit version might break compatibility and Microsoft have wised up and learned from their disastrous 64-bit introduction of Vista, which had huge compatibility issues with almost all major driver and software.

Honestly, I’m not sure why you would need a 64-bit version of Word. It allows you to access documents that need more than 2gb of memory to load, but this very rarely happens, unless your document is very very VERY long and contains lots of images and animations and such. For other applications like Access and Excel, perhaps it is possible that you will run into the memory load that necessitates using the 64-bit version. Some users note that the 64-bit version also starts up slightly faster, if you are really running out of reasons for wanting to switch.

Office 2010 also offers several new online versions of popular applications like Outlook and  Word. It will be interesting to see how this will tie in to Cloud Computing and Web 2.0 technologies being developed.

You can grab your free beta copy from this website and post your testimonials. Monthly winners get a chance of getting a HTC Touch HD2 phone!