Partners Get Early Crack at Office 2010

Access granted to technical preview for attendees at Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference.

Partners are getting a look at Microsoft Office 2010 ahead of the product's public beta, which is set for later this year. Microsoft announced access to the Office 2010 technical preview bits for attendees of the 2009 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in July, and others are able to sign up online for a waiting list.

Various Office 2010 productivity suite components-Excel, Word, PowerPoint, OneNote, Project, Publisher and Visio-all hit the 2010 technical preview milestone, along with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010. The schedule for Microsoft Exchange 2010 is slightly ahead of it peer group of products, with a public beta that started in April.

Microsoft officials expect general availability for Office 2010 in the first half of 2010.

The main theme Microsoft is emphasizing with the technical preview release is that Office 2010 will be accessible by PC, phone and browser. The new enabling factor is something called "Office Web applications," which are lightweight versions of Excel, PowerPoint and Word that can run in a Web browser. Supported browsers currently include Firefox, Internet Explorer and Safari.

The unveiling of Office Web applications represents Microsoft's long-awaited move into the lightweight, hosted-applications space. Competitors, such as Google Inc. and Zoho Corp., have offered Office-like applications that work in a browser for years.

Microsoft will offer its Office Web applications to consumers for free once they sign up for a Windows Live account. Businesses won't have free access, but they will be able to subscribe to Microsoft Online Services, which will host the Office Web applications and provide access to them as a service.

All Microsoft Office 2010 volume licensees will have access to Office Web applications. In addition, these licensees will have the option of running Office Web applications from their own on-premises servers.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.