Microsoft has announced its latest productivity suite, Office 2010, will be released to the public next year after the software giant completes technical previews in the third quarter of 2009.
While beta screenshots for Office 2010, code-named Office 14, were leaked in early January, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed that the productivity suite will not be released this year, but will begin shipping to manufacturers in the first half of 2010.
According to a statement from Chris Capossela, senior vice president, Microsoft Office, it will still take anywhere from six weeks to four months or more to reach PC end-users. Of course, the availability of the Office 2010 suite will differ for consumers and enterprise segments as well for those who download it or purchase it through a retail outlet.
The advance notice and the technical previews will give solution providers ample opportunity to prime customers for the new suite, as well as work out any compatibility or integration issues that may arise.
These technology previews are more limited than public betas, and typically are focused on more highly technical users. Public betas, on the other hand, more closely resemble a final release, and may be offered to millions of users.
The technology preview will include both the traditional desktop versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote as well as the browser-based Office Web Applications Microsoft is building. The browser-based versions will be somewhat more limited than their desktop counterparts, but will include basic editing abilities, Microsoft has said. The software maker has also said the browser-based applications will run in Safari and Firefox as well as Internet Explorer, which means Office could gain a foothold both on Linux computers and Apple’s iPhone.
Microsoft has also confirmed that the new Office will be the first of Microsoft’s productivity suites to have two separate versions, 32-bit and 64-bit, according to a spokesperson.
Usage of 64-bit operating systems has become more common after Microsoft Vista’s release. Now, users running 64-bit Windows OS will be able to use 64-bit Office 2010 without emulating it as 32-bit version, according to Microsoft.