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Microsoft Rolls Out Public Betas of 2010 Products

Microsoft rolled out multiple public betas at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles on Wednesday.

Kurt DelBene, senior vice president of the Office Business Productivity Group at Microsoft, announced that 2010 betas of Office, SharePoint Server, Project, Visio, Office Web Apps and Office Mobile are now publicly available for download.

"There's a lot to love in these releases," said DelBene's colleague Kirk Koenigsbauer, general manager of Microsoft's Office Business Platform Group, in a telephone interview afterward. "We are very excited about the capabilities embedded in these offerings that will enhance the experience for both developers and consumers."

Koenigsbauer said one of the new key technologies for developers is the Outlook Social Connector SDK, which is designed to help developers build "connectors" to third-party social networks. Social Connector is a new feature in Outlook 2010 that links history, business networking and social networking with Outlook.

"We designed Social Connector for the Outlook client to help enhance social networking capabilities with Microsoft social network offerings such as SharePoint," Koenigsbauer said. "Now, in addition to out-of-the-gate support for Microsoft products, developers can connect Outlook to just about any social network."

Koenigsbauer said one of the first connectors for Outlook Social Connector has been developed for the LinkedIn social networking Web site.

Other key features in the 2010 betas for developers include SharePoint integration with Visual Studio, which includes a rich API set and support for Open XML, Silverlight, REST and LINQ.

In addition, new Sandbox solutions in the betas allow developers to write code and deploy secure applications both on premises and online.

"Customers want to have their developers write custom applications, but they also want to control certain uses and accesses," Koenigsbauer said. "With Sandbox in SharePoint 2010, developers can create custom code in a trusted environment ensuring that any bad code won't disrupt or jeopardize the network."

Microsoft also announced plans for a new "jointly developed" product called Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint. Developed with SAP, the new offering will be available in the second half of 2010, according to Koenigsbauer.

The new 2010 offerings all share a common navigation element known as the Ribbon user interface (UI), which was introduced in Office 2007.

"We received tremendous support of the Ribbon UI," Koenigsbauer said, "especially in products such as Project Manager, where often you will have a professional manager collaborating with someone who is not as familiar with the program. This common navigational element makes it much easier to navigate multiple programs."

Koenigsbauer noted that Office Web Apps will be easy to access through both browser and mobile devices. Business users will have access to them through Microsoft's online offerings, while consumers will have access via Windows Live.

The new Office 2010 productivity suite has been developed on the ISO/IEC 29500 standard (also known as "Office Open XML" for document formats) and it has "full backward capability" with previous Office releases, according to Koenigsbauer.

"There are so many great features in these new offerings," Koenigsbauer said. "From the new multimedia capabilities in PowerPoint to the new features in Office Mobile, we think we've hit a home run."

The new 2010 betas can be tried out by the public by downloading them here.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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