May 23, 2006 9:04 AM PDT

Microsoft unveils new betas for Office, Vista

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SEATTLE--Microsoft is aiming to show that, following recent stumbles, it has regained its footing.

The software maker announced Tuesday that it is ready with broader test versions of both Windows Vista and Office 2007. The company also has an updated test version of Longhorn Server, the next version of its server operating system.

images
Word 2007 beta 2
Outlook 2007 beta 2
PowerPoint 2007 beta 2
Excel 2007 beta 2
Check out screenshots and CNET editors' early reactions to the Office 2007 suite.

Both Vista and Office had been expected to hit retail shelves in time for this year's holiday season. In March, however, Microsoft said that although it still planned to finish up development of both products by year's end, the broad launch of the products would not come until January.

Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates called the release of the three test versions a milestone, noting it was the first time that all three products had been at the same place in the development cycle.

"Each of these is a very important product," Gates said in a keynote address here at the company's Windows Hardware Engineering Conference, or WinHEC.

IDC analyst Richard Shim said the release of the test versions is a good sign that Microsoft is on track with its revised timetable.

"It's something that they had to do," Shim said, noting that the company needs to prove itself after missing several deadlines.

Videos:
Click here to Play

Release the betas
At WinHEC, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates calls the releases of Vista, Office 2007 and Longhorn Server a "milestone."

Click here to Play

New view of Vista
Microsoft has released a beta version of the upcoming Windows release. CNET's Robert Vamosi takes a look at some of the key features.

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Microsoft Office 2007 beta 2
CNET's Elsa Wenzel walks you through changes in Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.

In his keynote speech before about 3,500 hardware makers, Gates also sounded a familiar note, talking about the coming wave of 64-bit computers. Although many systems today have 64-bit chips, the necessary software and drivers are only now coming into the market. The company perennially uses the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference to implore hardware makers to ensure they have built 64-bit drivers. Although 64-bit systems can run 32-bit software, they require new drivers for any hardware device--drivers that have been slow in coming.

Servers are moving faster to 64-bit processors, in large part because they need fewer drivers. Gates reiterated that several forthcoming server products will only ship in 64-bit versions, including its Compute Cluster Editon of Windows, the next version of Exchange and its next server operating systems for small and midsize businesses, code-named Cougar and Centro, respectively.

Microsoft said that Beta 2 versions of Vista and Longhorn Server are available now to developers and those in its technical beta programs. WinHEC attendees will also get DVDs with the software.

"We're churning out DVDs as I speak," Gates said.

The company said its "Customer Preview Program," which will allow a broader group of IT workers and tech enthusiasts to try out Vista, will start "in the coming weeks." Microsoft said Beta 2 is available now via free download in English, French, German, Japanese and Spanish.

Microsoft also announced an effort to get hardware makers to build products around its Windows Live services. The company had already announced at January's Consumer Electronics Show that Philips and Uniden were building cordless phone with built-in MSN Messenger. On Tuesday, it announced that Motorola will also create cordless phones supporting Windows Live services.

The Motorola phone will be "dual-mode," meaning it can either make traditional phone calls or make calls over the Internet through a partnership with Verizon. In addition, the phone will be able to show whether messaging contacts are online as well as notify users of new e-mail and instant messages.

This summer, Microsoft plans to offer a software development kit to make it easier for more hardware makers to offer products that connect to Windows Live.

See more CNET content tagged:
WinHEC, Microsoft Windows Server Longhorn, test version, Bill Gates, Richard Shim

11 comments

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Last Paragraph
So what does the last paragraph has to do with the rest of the article?:

"The Motorola phone will be "dual-mode," meaning it can either make traditional phone calls or make calls over the Internet through a partnership with Verizon. In addition, the phone will be able to show whether messaging contacts are online as well as notify users of new e-mail and instant messages."
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Office 2007 Beta
I havn't seen Vista Beta, so I won't say anything about it, just hope it's better then XP because this is the last straw for me to hang around.

But I have seen Office 2007 Beta. Outlook looks more steamlined and I did acctually like it, but what I am used to as far as the Menus from Excel and Access is now in total disarray, from what I seen. Where is the File menus ? why did you make it like that, you are going to upset a lot of people with this upgrade.
Posted by rmiecznik (224 comments )
Reply Link Flag
"Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates"....
... according to this article has; "called the release of the three test versions a milestone, noting it was the first time that all three products had been at the same place in the development cycle." but my question is - what will be done differently this time around by the "folks" who were responsible at one time for the development "IBM's OS/2 Client and Server Operating Systems"... the thing is - have they (the developers) sat down with the financial and economic analyst among others who might be interested in running these new products in order to know what users need and how they work (and not what the developers feel they need and how they think they work) and; also, what compelling reasons will convince then to either move to the Windows environment from the Linux environment or from the Linux envoronment to the Windows environment!
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Beta Versions?
I can not for sure remember WHEN MS had a final release. Was it DOS 6.22? or Win 3,11? or Win 98 SE? What ever came later did NOT qualify for a final release, certainly NOT Win XP, which to this day - that is a good 5 years after its introduction - needs weekly repairs because of shoddy programming. It is really astonishing that MS is not capable to produce a real, FINAL product with probably tens of thousands of their own regular, employed programmers and how many more on contract in foreign lands. Just to remember: A hand full of programmers created an at least equivalent OS, namely Linux, free of charge! And now we are made to believe, that "Vista" fulfills our dreams of a better OS? Think again!

The essence of the problem is that Windows has always been a single-machine, stand alone OS, whilst UNIX and its derivatives were always built for multi-user deployment. Today, where networking in its broadest sense has become the essence of computing, DOS and it's Windows derivatives have never had a chance to catch up, because the basic structure for security and reliablity in a multi-user envrironment was never achieved. The DOS concept just doesn't lend itself to multi-user applications.

In view of the overwhelming majority of programs having been written for DOS, or Windows if you prefer - on account of the monopoly achieved by Windows - the only chance to run them is a Unix based machine with an API that allows for these programs to run thereon.

Imho the end of Windows is near. Its only a matter of time till the users understand that they have to rethink their future and abandon an idea that has outlived its time.

Peter B. K.
Posted by Peterbkz (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Beta Versions
I used to consider any Windows version a beta until the release of
it's first service pack. With XP, IMO, beta testing ended with the
release of SP2.

Considering how many years the Vista schedule has slipped, its
entire production run may end with it still in Beta.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Link Flag
Software is never "final"
Even your beloved Linux has regular updates to its kernel (not to mention the software packages piled on top of it).
Posted by Take the Red Pill (46 comments )
Link Flag
Hey, look!
It's OS X Tiger MS edition! YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!

Now if only they tossed all of the legacy code, and made their OS closed off and built for multiple users instead of just tacked on somehow, maybe it'd be a decent OS. MAYBE.
Posted by (461 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Visually awful!
God I hope there is an option to revert to an Office
2003 theme! That is really ugly!
Posted by mactechie--2008 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
oh my god
his this guy a idoit this looks awsome
Posted by superman9956 (15 comments )
Link Flag
 

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