Office 2010 Tech Preview Unveiled at Microsoft Partner Event

Microsoft Office 2010 has reached the technical preview testing stage, company officials announced on Monday at the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

Attendees at the New Orleans event this week have access to the Office 2010 bits. For others wanting to test the new productivity suite, Microsoft provides a Web form to sign up for the waiting list, which can be accessed here.

Various Office 2010 productivity suite components -- Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Project, Publisher and Visio -- all hit the 2010 technical preview milestone today, along with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. The schedule for Microsoft Exchange 2010 is slightly ahead of the pack, with a public beta announced back in April.

Office 2010 is expected to be released as a public beta sometime later this calendar year, according to Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft Office products, in a video discussion. Microsoft officials expect that Office 2010 will appear as a final product in the first half of 2010.

The main theme Microsoft emphasized with today's announcement is that Office 2010 will be accessible by PC, phone and browser. The new enabling factor is something called "Office Web applications," which are lightweight versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word that can run in a Web browser. Supported browsers currently include Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.

The unveiling of Office Web applications represents Microsoft's long-awaited move into the lightweight hosted applications space. Competitors, such as Google and Zoho, have offered Office-like applications that work in a browser for years.

Microsoft will offer its Office Web applications to consumer users for free. Users just have to sign up for a Windows Live account. Businesses won't have free access, but they will be able to subscribe to Microsoft Online Services, which will host the Office Web applications and provide access to them as a service.

All Microsoft Office 2010 volume licensees will have access to Office Web apps. In addition, these licensees will have the option of running Office Web apps from their own on-premises servers.

Microsoft will incorporate the "ribbon" menu system, first introduced in Office 2007, in a number of future products. Those products include the Outlook 2010 mail and calendar solution, the SharePoint 2010 collaboration app, Project 2010 planning app and Visio 2010 diagramming solution.

Document collaboration will be a feature in Office 2010. For instance, users can edit video in PowerPoint 2010 and then share or broadcast those videos. A Microsoft Office Backstage view lets users quickly access features associated with Office 2010 files, enabling integration with other Office or SharePoint apps.

The Office 2010 announcements were part of a keynote address in New Orleans by Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft's Business Division. Elop outlined other Microsoft initiatives of note to partners. For instance, he played up partner opportunities in Microsoft's "Software plus Services" world, in which Microsoft or its partners will offer customers hosted and on-premises software solutions, or a combination of the two approaches.

Some products, such as Microsoft Office Communication Server, have sustained growth in tough economic times, Elop noted. He also touted Microsoft Dynamics products, saying that more than one million Dynamics seats have been sold, and that Microsoft was winning deals over and Oracle's Siebel CRM.

Elop said that Microsoft now has more than 17,000 SharePoint customers and that the company has sold about 100 million SharePoint licenses. Social computing via SharePoint is an area of rapid innovation, as well as a Microsoft partner opportunity, he added.

Elop suggested that Microsoft is making good on its "democratizing business intelligence" theme, in which business users of Microsoft products will be better able to conduct data analyses on the fly. One such feature in Excel, called "Sparklines," lets users slice up and compose data.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is online news editor for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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Reader Comments:

Tue, Sep 22, 2009 Evan California

The Office 2007 Ribbon goes against Microsoft's own research into ergonomics. The beauty of the old toolbars is that a button is always available and in the same location no matter what you are doing. The new ribbon only serves new or occasional users. I find myself constantly having to work simultaneously with multiple tabs which is very inefficient. The new ribbon is just a glorified menu and the real toolbar is restricted to only a single line.

Wed, Jul 15, 2009 JAMES

Office 2007 Ribbon for the basic user is fantastic they pick the UI up with great ease. I agree with Donald if you are so set in your ways get out of training you should be an example to all that IT is agile and can adapt.

Tue, Jul 14, 2009 Donald

Office 2007 is the best thing that ever happened to office. It actually makes logical sense. People need to adapt to the new ways of doing things and be open. It took all of 4 hours to get comfortable iwth the Office 2007. If you are so set in your ways that you need to keep an XP interface or a Office 2000 interface, get off the computer.

Tue, Jul 14, 2009 Terry

"My background is in Training & Development" If Microsoft is going to use ribbon menu system for 2010 Office give us the option to switch from the old menu to the new, like you did with the OS. Office 2007 was the worst pre-thought out for old MS office user. I am trying to be nice and it is not easy.

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