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'Office 15' Enters Technical Preview; Beta Coming in Summer

The next generation of Microsoft's productivity suite, code-named "Office 15," is now in the technical preview stage.

Furthermore, a public beta of Office 15 will become available this summer, said PJ Hough, corporate vice president of Office development at Microsoft, in a blog post on Monday announcing the start of the technical preview program.

For now, though, the Office 15 technical preview is available only to select participants who have signed nondisclosure agreements. These participants have been tasked with testing early Office 15 builds and giving their feedback to Microsoft.

"At this early point in our development cycle, I'm not able to share too much about Office 15, but I can tell you Office 15 is the most ambitious undertaking yet for the Office Division," Hough said. "With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio."

Hough's wording strongly hints at a cloud-enabled Office 15. A separate Microsoft blog post describes Office 15 as "the next generation of the Microsoft Office cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients -- all being updated simultaneously in this release."

Besides Monday's announcement, however, Microsoft has released very few official details about Office 15. In September 2011, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer indicated that a Metro-style Office that will run on Windows 8 was in the offing, but did not give a specific timeline. "When we have something that we want to talk about, we will, but certainly you ought to expect that we are rethinking and working hard on what it would mean to do Office Metro style," Ballmer said at a financial analysts meeting. Unofficially, leaked images from last spring, purportedly of Office 15, also suggest that the suite will have a Metro look and feel.

Besides the new UI, Office 15 will reportedly have a new feature called "Moorea." As longtime Microsoft observer Mary Jo Foley noted last year after another round of allegedly leaked Office 15 screenshots, "it looks like the app [Moorea] will allow you to insert various kinds of multimedia content in a common place. Kind of like a OneNote focused around multimedia content."

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About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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