Remember when there was just one version of Microsoft Office (news, site) and it was darned expensive? Now there's a whole bunch of versions and prices to suit all levels of users.

How Much for How Much?

As with the Windows operating system, there is now a seemingly endless number of versions of the Office 2010 bundle. From the dreaded hacked-down Starter Edition, Home and Student Version, up to Business and Professional. And, now, Professional Plus. But, what do they offer and which is best for you?

Each license allows for a different number of users, comes with different applications and extras. This excludes the online Office Web Apps version that some users can use for free, dictated by the license terms. The big new features for enterprise users is the new SharePoint 2010 functionality.

Related: SharePoint 2010 Review: The New 6 Pillars of SharePoint

Start from the Top

So, the Professional Plus version is the top dog of the pack and comes with all the applications possible including SharePoint Workspace, InfoNote and Business Contact Manager as part of Outlook. It is aimed straight at the enterprise and SMB market. As an odd kind of bonus, Professional Plus license holders can also let their users work with the Office Web Apps edition.

Most users will end up working with the Professional or Standard version that comes without SharePoint. Finally, if you're down the smaller end of the business food chain, the Home and Business edition comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote.

There is also Office 2010 Mobile to consider with OneNote and SharePoint Workspace, you can try the beta for Windows Mobile 6.5 devices, but we're waiting for Windows Mobile 7 Series phones to see what they can add.

Pick a License

Volume Licensing customers can get hold of Office 2010 now, those waiting for it in the stores will have to wait until next month. Pricing ranges from US$ 280 for the Home and Business version up to US$ 500 for Professional.

Feature Home and Business $199 Standard (Volume only) Professional $349 Enterprise Plus (Volume only)
Word  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
Excel  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
PowerPoint  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
OneNote  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
Outlook  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
Publisher  No  Yes  Yes  Yes
Access  No  No  Yes  Yes
Communicator  No  No  No  Yes
Infopath  No  No  No  Yes
SharePoint Workspace (formerly MS Groove)  No  No  No  Yes

Boxed products can be installed on two PCs, so you can have it on a desktop and your notebook. While there is now plenty of competition from other sources such as Google Docs and OpenOffice, Microsoft has tools to hold its own, and those massive enterprise licenses that make the company more money than Windows does.