It seems like it's always the fine print that gets you.
Microsoft announced a deal on Friday that lets customers who buy Office 2007 between now and Sept. 30 to receive a copy of Office 2010 without any extra charge when it becomes available this spring.
However, a little-noticed item in an FAQ for what Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) terms its "tech guarantee" for Office 2010 provides a cautionary note that many users and IT staff will want to be familiar with.
Specifically, if a user installs one of the 64-bit editions of the next Office version, many existing 32-bit Office add-ins will no longer work, according to the FAQ.
"We strongly recommend most users install the 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 FAQ said.
That is not to say that users who feel they need to run the 64-bit editions will not be able to get them.
"The 64-bit installation of Microsoft Office 2010 products will be available for users who commonly use very large documents or data sets and need Excel 2010 programs to access greater than 2GB of memory," the FAQ continued.
Technical issues with 64-bit version
However, users who opt for that route should be prepared.
"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," the FAQ said.
Office 2010 entered beta testing in November at Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles.
Since then free downloads of the beta have surpassed 4.5 million, Microsoft officials have said. The latest version of the company's premier productivity applications suite reached the release candidate, or RC, stage -- the final phase of testing before a Microsoft product is released to manufacturing, or RTM -- in early February.
Microsoft announced that Office 2010 would come in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions nearly a year ago.
Similar to the tech guarantee that Microsoft offered last year with Windows 7, the Office 2010 tech guarantee is meant to keep users buying software while they wait for the next release.
However, there are some conditions involved in getting the tech guarantee deal.
For example, customers need to provide their sales slip as well as their product's 25-digit key. In addition, users need to request the upgrade by Oct. 31.
Friday, Microsoft also announced that corporate customers will be able to receive Office 2010 on or after May 12. Consumers will be able to get the new version by the end of June.