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Microsoft Launches Online Office Preview

Microsoft Corp. has launched an online preview of its new Office business software, as part of efforts to drum up more interest in the coming set of releases.

Microsoft plans to release its version of Office 2007 -- which includes new versions of applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint -- to consumers early next year. Corporate customers are scheduled to get it in November.

The company has already been letting technology experts download test versions of Office products. The goal of the online preview is to let people play around with the software without going through the trouble of downloading the large beta versions, which are less reliable than final products.

Still, to use the online demonstration, users may need to download a plug-in and must register with the company.

A big challenge for Redmond-based Microsoft is convincing users to buy a new version of the Office software when many might think their current version works just fine.

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