On Wednesday, Microsoft confirmed details of a report published on the SuperSite for Windows in March that it will ship the next version of its Office productivity suite in late 2006 and begin beta testing the product in late 2005 (the report even noted that Microsoft would begin publicly discussing Office 12 in May 2005). The announcement came just before the start of the software giant's annual CEO Summit, which provides two days of presentations and networking opportunities for the nation's tops chief executives.
"The volume of documents, e-mails, instant messages, financial reports and other content that workers need to sort through every day has grown exponentially," says Chris Capossela, the Corporate Vice President of the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft. "We've seen an explosion in the demand for information workers at all levels of an organization to collaborate ... and organizations \[are compelled\] to become more transparent and accountable to governments, investors and consumers ... At Microsoft, we refer to the intersection of these emerging trends as the 'New World of Work.'"
Microsoft says that Office 12 will deliver huge advances in both specialized and everyday work needs. The company breaks down the improvements into five key areas, including individual impact, collaboration, knowledge discovery and insight, enterprise content lifecycle, and information solution IT fundamentals.
The Office 12 schedule--which currently places the first beta release in October 2005 and the final release in October 2006, means that the product could ship concurrently with Longhorn, the next Windows version. However, Microsoft didn't discuss any Longhorn specific Office 12 features this week. For more information about Office 12, please refer to my Office Microsoft Office 12 Preview 1 on the SuperSite for Windows.