As you may know, Microsoft now provides PC makers with a free version of Office 2010 called Office 2010 Starter. It's only available to consumers with a new PC, and of course it includes a means by which the user can upgrade electronically to a higher-end and more powerful version of Office. But until now, it's only been available to those that purchased a new PC, and not to just anyone.
According to the blog Tweaking with Vishal, Microsoft makes Office Starter available for download via its online store, the Microsoft Store. And using a direct download link, you can grab it for yourself as well. This link is for the US English version:
However, the post also notes that you can edit the URL to grab different versions of the software. For example, en-us with es-es for Spanish, or de-de for German.
Aside from offline usage, however, Office 2010 Starter is in many ways less powerful than the free, web-based Office Web Apps. It includes only stripped-down versions of Word 2010 and Excel 2010, and looks and works a bit differently than other Office 2010 versions. (There's a non-collapsible side-bar, for example.) But it's the real deal otherwise, works with modern Office document formats, and can of course be used offline.
I do sort of expect this direct download link to disappear over time. This doesn't seem like an officially sanctioned download, though I'm unclear why they wouldn't just give it out, since it's really just an advertisement for paid Office versions anyway.
And the aforementioned blog has a nice tip for this Office version, which can be useful to power users, even those already using a better edition of Office 2010. It can be used to create a portable version of Office 2010 Starter. "The best part of Starter edition is that it also allows you to create a portable version of it which can be carried on USB drive to use in other computer systems," the blog notes. "Just launch 'Office Starter To-Go Device Manager' from 'All Programs -> Microsoft Office Starter' menu. It'll take approx. 400 MB of your USB drive." Nice!
Thanks to everyone that wrote in about this.