After a long and painful beta testing process, The Microsoft Office team has finally released the long-awaited update to the Microsoft Office family. Succeeding Microsoft Office 2007, the 2010 version has many new features to look forward to.

Office 2010 includes a number of new features to help improve the applications, among them a redesigned menu system, improved inline multimedia editing, real-time collaboration integration, improved security settings, and perhaps the longest awaited and biggest feature of them all, a cloud-based Web apps component that aims to compete with Google Docs.

The online component of Office 2010 includes Web-based versions of the software including Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote. They’re promoted as companion apps to their full desktop counterparts, making the standalone services less powerful than existing cloud champions Google Docs or Zoho.

Google, however, has already launched the first volley in the coming Office Apps Wars by suggesting Office 2007 users would be better served by “upgrading” to Google Docs instead. Still, with an enormous existing base of business Office users, Microsoft will undoubtedly benefit from its incumbent position in the marketplace.