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Microsoft Ships Refresh of Office 2007 Beta 2

Microsoft quietly announced Thursday that it is shipping the Beta 2 technical refresh of Office 2007.

The code refresh adds a several new user interface features, including improved support for the minimized "ribbon" (Office 2007's new UI scheme) as well as keyboard accelerators for all of the suite's commands and features, rather than just some as was the case in Office 2003, according to statements provided by a Microsoft spokesperson.

It also adds a new "silver" theme to the UI options, giving end-users three options: the default blue, black or silver.

Other changes in the programs' behavior include improved performance and reliability, increased integration between programs, and improved collaboration tools, the statements say. The company says that more than 3.5 million people have been participating in the beta program.

Beta 2 began shipping in late May. The release of Office 2007 is expected to coincide with Windows Vista's delivery early next year. Microsoft has strategically positioned Office 2007 as a development and application "platform" that ties seamlessly with other key technologies and products, including SharePoint as well as the Windows Live "software as a service" (SaaS) initiative.

Current beta 2 customers will receive an e-mail with a link to the download. The tech refresh is being delivered as a patch – "an update to all client applications and servers are[sic] available," the statements say.

The technical refresh will only run on Windows Vista RC1 and Windows XP SP2, and is available in the same five languages as Beta 2 -- English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese.

The tech refresh download is available here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.