November 16, 2005 4:45 PM PST

Microsoft rolls out first Office 12 beta

Microsoft late Wednesday released the first test version of Office 12, the next incarnation of its ubiquitous desktop suite.

The company said it is offering up the Beta 1 code to about 10,000 pre-approved testers, with a broader test release slated for the spring. Microsoft is promising a final version of Office 12 for the second half of next year, around the same time as the company releases the Vista upgrade to its Windows operating system.

Office 12 beta

"The next version of Office is the most significant release in more than 10 years," Chris Capossela, a Microsoft vice president, said in a statement. "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."

Microsoft had said it would release a test version this month and last week sent notices to those testers it had accepted for the program. Beta 1 offers new versions of the standard Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook applications. They come along with updates to several less-well-known members of the Office family, including its Access database, OneNote note-taking program, Publisher layout software and the Groove Virtual Office collaboration suite.

The Office upgrade is important for Microsoft, which gets much of its profits from the combined sales of Office and Windows, even as it has diversified into many other business and consumer products.

FAQ: Office 12

Click here to find out more about the update, including:
• What are the big changes?
• Will Office 12 require Windows Vista?
• When will it be available?
• What will it cost?

So far with Office 12, Microsoft has showed off a revamp of the user interface and talked about other broad areas of improvement. But the company has not released a full set of new features or said how it will price and package up the new software.

At a financial analyst meeting in July, CEO Steve Ballmer did say there would be a "premium" version of Office, but the company has not elaborated on its plans there. The company has also pledged there will be some new server-based capabilities for Office, but has not given complete details.

21 comments

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It will be interesting.....
... to see if MS can make the case that Office users should upgrade
to 12. So far, I'm not impressed by the minute quantity of
information provided. And, my current Office works very well for
what I want to do.
Posted by Earl Benser (4310 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's Easy
What are you talking about? Microsoft doesn't need to make a case. They just need to break a few things, like make highlighted changes in Word 12 fail to appear to someone using a earlier version and other tricks like that. Just enough minor things to annoy you into upgrading.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
Hmmmm...
Office XP will do just fine for me. Besides once someone cracks the new Office 12, it will be available on every major crack download site available.
Posted by smcgui5 (21 comments )
Link Flag
The fact that...
... "The Office upgrade is important for Microsoft, which gets much of its profits from the combined sales of Office and Windows, even as it has diversified into many other business and consumer products" may be even less important than for Microsoft to give users "compelling reasons" to upgrade/switch to Office 12 in that Microsoft has not yet outlined its strategies moving forward with regards to the issues concerning interoperability (of XML and Web Services functionalities; re: the Open Document Format) which has already been adopted and integrated into the freely available Open Office 2.0 suite.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Additionally, The "Winds" of Change!
In terms of the Google/Sun Microsystems/IBM (IBM Workplace: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www-142.ibm.com/software/workplace/products/product5.nsf/wdocs/workplaceoverview" target="_newWindow">http://www-142.ibm.com/software/workplace/products/product5.nsf/wdocs/workplaceoverview</a> ) positioning for delivery of web-applications and services (Microsoft being late for the party) the age-old battle for supremacy of the "desktop" space is now appearing to be well joined. It will be left to be seen how well the "sails" on the ship at Redmond has been rigged and how the forces from the "winds of change" than can come from the worldwide marketplace will influence future trends in the company's operations!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Link Flag
Open Office
is a Pig. it Totally S.U.C.K.S.
Posted by SystemsJunky (409 comments )
Link Flag
There must be a reason?
Why would anyone pay for M$ Office when Open Office is free. Granted I am a bit dated as the last Office I paid for was 97. Even so, is there a clear and compelling reason to use the M$ stuff?

For anyone interested, Open Office 2.0 works really well and they fixed those little bugs that were the only downside to 1.1.
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Reason
The newer versions of Office provide more collaboration features of documents but unless you use these features there is really no reason to upgrade. For most people, especially home users, Open Office is an excellent choice as it should do everything you would need it to. Another good free alternative is EasyOffice, but unfortunately it is only available on Windows.
Posted by Charleston Charge (362 comments )
Link Flag
Open Office
I've used Open Office and it seems to be just as good as MS, and it's 100% free.
Posted by smcgui5 (21 comments )
Link Flag
Open Office 2.0
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.analogstereo.com/volvo_760_owners_manual.htm" target="_newWindow">http://www.analogstereo.com/volvo_760_owners_manual.htm</a>
Posted by Thunder Johny (200 comments )
Link Flag
Integration of Economic Rate of Return (ERR) Functionalities!
While I have not yet had a chance to test run both Open Office 2.0 and the upcoming Microsoft's Office 12 productivity suite -- I can only hope that this time around either of them has Economic Rate of Return (ERR) Functionalities integrated into their spreadsheet applications; if not, this would be so, so, so, soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo disappointed after all these years of waiting. Would anyone happen to know the answer!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Add-iins
I haven't really used macro's or add ins for Excell in a while, but I used an Add-in for excel for an investment class that calculated all types of rates, such as risk, return, comparative rates of of risk against a market indicator, etc. Try googling Excel add ins and see what you can find. Good luck
Posted by Rolndubbs (194 comments )
Link Flag
Better Writing & Graphics Tools would be nice
Microsoft is big on colaboration tools, but MS Word could use an improved grammar checker, and a thesaurus would be nice. Excel could certainly benefit by improving its primitive graphics capability and a simpler @rate function for CAGR (etc.) that works over a wider range of numbers without blowing up. In short, many improvements should focus on the user, not the corporation.
Posted by straussaz (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If you think that "Microsoft is...
... big on colaboration tools"... Think again! Here Is The Action Is:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www-142.ibm.com/software/sw-lotus/lotus/offering2.nsf/wdocs/rttc" target="_newWindow">http://www-142.ibm.com/software/sw-lotus/lotus/offering2.nsf/wdocs/rttc</a>
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Link Flag
 

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