Microsoft Completes Development of Office XP

Microsoft announced the completion of Office XP, the company's next-generation Office productivity suite. Office XP--formerly code-named Office 10--will be available at retail stores in late May, and a Corporate Preview Program (CPP) release is available for immediate evaluation. Microsoft describes this release as the most significant and the most stable Office product the company has ever produced. But in a time of ebbing interest in software upgrades, Microsoft might have a hard sell on its hands.
  
"Previous versions of Office have been successful, and customers have been happy with these versions because they addressed needs that customers had at the time," says Microsoft Senior Vice President Steven Sinofsky, who heads Office development. "However, customers' needs continue to evolve, and people still face tasks every day that aren't simple enough--such as copying and pasting information into multiple documents or trying to collaborate on documents with other people." Sinofsky notes that Office XP makes it easier for users to find features, some of which were previously hidden deep in the product's UI. In addition, new reliability features help users recover data in the event of a system or application crash.
  
Microsoft developed Office XP around three core principles: making personal productivity simpler, enabling collaboration for all types of users, and providing flexible solutions that address business needs. And Microsoft says beta users are happy with the product. "We're extremely excited to give more customers a chance to see Office XP," Lisa Gurry, Microsoft's Office product manager, told me. "Feedback from our beta testers has been very positive."
  
The Office XP beta began last summer when Microsoft issued the Beta 1 release to about 3000 customers. Since then, the Beta 2 release expanded the evaluation to 10,000 testers and the trade press. Now, with the retail release about 2 months away, Microsoft is opening up a near-final version of the product to a much wider audience; the company will basically give away 500,000 copies of the Release Candidate 1 (RC1) version (for about $20, which includes shipping and handling and other expenses). "CPP expands the evaluation and review of Office XP to a wide range of customers in more than 30 countries," Gurry said, noting that the CPP will last as long as supplies are available.
  
According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Office XP actually shipped a day earlier than expected; Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer signed off on the release Friday. Office XP was due to reach release to manufacturing (RTM) today.



Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer signs off on Office XP Friday.

TAGS: Windows 8
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