Office 14 crawls toward beta

Just because Office 14 won’t be fully released until next year doesn’t mean consumers will have to wait that long to try out the products.

In an interview this week Senior Vice President Chris Capossela said that Microsoft will offer more details on the beta "relatively soon," noting that Office has traditionally made its products available to millions of testers well before the final version ships.

"That’s been true of the suite," he said. "That will certainly be true of the suite this time and of the Web apps."

With Office 14, Microsoft has said it will offer desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote as well as versions that can run online in a browser, be it Internet Explorer, Safari, or Firefox. As previously noted, that means that for the first time Office will also work on both Linux and Apple’s iPhone. CEO Steve Ballmer told financial analysts last week that Office 14 would not come out this year.

Microsoft has already started testing some of the components that make up the Office 14 wave of products. Capossela wouldn’t go into too many specifics about when Office 14 would ship, but said Microsoft hoped not to be too far beyond its typical cycle which sees new versions roughly every three years.

"I don’t think Office 14 is going to be wildly different," Capossela said. "Office has had a pretty predictable ship rate and I think we will continue with that."

The last version of Office, Office 2007 was finalized and made available to large businesses in late 2006 and had its consumer launch with Windows Vista in January 2007.

As for the new Web-based products, Capossela reiterated that they are already being tested "with a small set of people."

"We will look to expand that number relatively soon," he said. The final version, though he said, won’t come until the desktop version of Office 14 is also done. "In terms of when things will be completely done we’ll take the beta name off when the wave is completely done," he said.

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Office 14 crawls toward beta

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