Wednesday night, Microsoft announced that it had shipped the Beta 1 version of its next office productivity suite, currently called Office 12, to beta testers. Office 12 Beta 1 is a closed beta, open only to technical beta testers and partners, according to the company. At the Professional Developers Conference (PDC) 2005 in September, however, Microsoft had promised to open up the Office 12 beta to the public. That public release will now occur in early 2006 with the release of Beta 2, Microsoft says.
"Office 12 will redefine the Office experience," says Microsoft corporate vice president Chris Capossela. "The next version of Office is the most significant release in more than 10 years and includes new technologies designed to allow information workers to drive greater business success. Now, after many years of research and development, we're eager to put the software to the test and solicit technical feedback from select customers and partners."
Office 12 Beta 1 features the new ribbon-based user interface that Microsoft first revealed at PDC and major new functionality for all of the core Office applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Access, InfoPath, OneNote, Publisher, Project, Visio, and Groove Virtual Office.
I will review Office 12 Beta 1 on the SuperSite for Windows in the weeks ahead. Individuals interested in registering to test Office 12 Beta 2 can do so at the Microsoft Web site.