In March, Microsoft announced the availability of Office XP Professional with Microsoft FrontPage Corporate Preview Beta, a release candidate (RC) build of the next version of Microsoft's market-leading Office productivity suite. The Corporate Preview Program will supply the suite to 500,000 customers, a massive expansion from the 10,000 users who evaluated Office XP beta 2, which Microsoft released last November. Microsoft plans to release Office XP in May.
"We think Office XP provides new opportunities that will help simplify individual productivity, enable team collaboration, and provide flexible and reliable business solutions for \[organizations\]," Lisa Gurry, the Microsoft Office product manager, told me. "The Corporate Preview Program expands this evaluation and review of Office XP to a wide range of customers in over 30 countries."
The Corporate Preview Program represents the final external release of Office XP beta code. The beta includes Microsoft Word 2002, Outlook 2002, Excel 2002, PowerPoint 2002, Access 2002, and FrontPage 2002 RC1; multilanguage packs; and a product overview CD-ROM.
The Corporate Preview Program will also provide many companies with their first look at Microsoft's controversial Product Activation feature, which Windows XP includes. You can evaluate the suite for $19.95, and the software expires August 31, 2001. Microsoft says that the Corporate Preview Program will be available until all 500,000 evaluation copies are gone.
"We're extremely excited to give more customers a chance to see Office XP," Gurry said. "Feedback from our beta testers has been very positive." For more information about the Office XP Corporate Preview Program, visit the Microsoft Web site, http://www.microsoft.com/office/xpcorpbeta.htm.