Microsoft to deliver invitation-only tech preview build of Office 2010

Summary:On July 13, Microsoft is slated to make available a limited technical test build of its Office 2010 suite to select testers via the company's Connect download site. The new build is not a public beta. Here's what it is....

On July 13, Microsoft is slated to make available a limited technical test build of its Office 2010 suite to select testers via the company's Connect download site.

The new build is not a public beta. A public beta of Office 2010 is slated for later this year, as company officials have said previously. The promised July test build, which will be downloadable starting today, is of Office 2010 Professional -- one of the five planned Office 2010 SKUs -- only.

(Is today's tech preview build the same, except for being officialy sanctioned, as the Office 2010 build that leaked in May? That May build was numbered 14.0.4006.1010.  Today's Office 2010 tech preview build -- based on a new leak -- seems to be 14.0.4302.1000. So today's build is newer.)

Microsoft also is making available to select testers this week invitation-only tech previews of Visio 2010, Project 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010, officials said. The tech preview of the Office Web Apps --the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- is slated to be available to select testers some time in August, not this week.

Microsoft officials are planning to announce the availability of the tech beta at the company's Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), which kicks off in New Orleans today. The conference is for 5,000 or so of the company's reseller partners.

All WPC attendees will have access to the invitation-only technical preview program and will receive an e-mail invitation to the program, according to Office officials.

Also on July 13, Microsoft officials are unveiling the five planned Office 2010 SKUs the company plans to make available in the first half of 2010. The current version of Office, Office 2007, is packaged as eight different SKUs. Microsoft officials said they are reducing the number of SKUs to reduce complexity.

Microsoft is not sharing Office 2010 pricing yet, officials said.

The five Office 2010 SKUs will be:

* Office Professional Plus 2010 (available only via volume licensing) * Office Professional 2010 * Office Home and Business 2010 (the new SMB SKU) * Offie Standard 2010 (only available via volume licensing) * Office Home and Student 2010

All five SKUs will include OneNote, Microsoft's note-taking application. SharePoint Workspace -- the renamed and updated Groove offline/online synchronization app, is part of the Professional Plus SKU only. The Ofice Web Applications will be part of the Professional Plus and Office Standard SKUs, but not the other three. However, Microsoft has plans to make the Web-centric Office Web Applications available to a broader set of XP, Vista and Office 2010 users. (See this post on Office Web apps for more details.)

For more details about what is part of each Office 2010 SKU, check out my ZDNet colleague Ed Bott's post.

Microsoft has scrapped plans for an Office for Sales SKU. The Office 2010 Enterprise SKU, which was listed in an internal slide presentation earlier this year, also has been scrapped, or possibly replaced by another SKU. Microsoft officials wouldn't say more about either of these SKUs when I asked.

Topics: Software, Collaboration, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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