While Microsoft has made a few public and well-calculated moves to prepare the way for Windows 7, the company has said almost nothing (at least intentionally) about Office 14.
On August 15, however, there was mention of an Office 14 alpha release on one of the Microsoft blogs that I read skim regularly. That post, about PerformancePoint Server, mentioned the Office 14 (O14) alpha TAP (Technical Adoption Program) release. The monitoring and analytics component of PerformancePoint Server (Microsoft's business-scorecarding server) will be part of the O14 TAP, the posting said. And the alpha process for that O14 TAP is slated for November/December 2008. From the post (which since I blogged this has disappeared):
"The Alpha process will begin in the November/December timeframe this year. When you submit, please identify as a PPS M&A candidate. The deadline for submissions is August 28th."
Microsoft opened up its Office 14 TAP nomination program in mid-May 2008. Here are excerpts from the note the Office team sent to Microsoft employees asking for potential tester names:
From: Office Customer Program Team Sent: Friday, May 23, 2008 Subject: Office “14” Technology Adoption Program : nominations open!
The Office “14” TAP team is excited to announce that the Office “14” Technology Adoption Program (TAP) is now accepting nominations! Nominations will be accepted until 8/29/08 and can be found at http://tap/team/Office14TAP/O14Nominations/Forms/MyItems.aspx. This nomination form should only be completed and submitted by Microsoft FTEs (full-time employees).
Recruiting and on-boarding for this phase of TAP will occur in two waves. The first wave starts now and will continue through the summer. This wave will focus on recruiting customers to validate server-centric scenarios (not involving client products as these will become available in the second wave). The second wave of recruiting will occur early next calendar year and will include client-centric scenarios. Selection criteria aims to maximize testing coverage for deployment scenarios and new product features. Other factors considered during selection include industry diversity, potential business impact for the customer, completeness of provided forms, and customer willingness to provide feedback and participate with product group on rigorous testing the product.
Companies willing to participate in public relations opportunities will receive preferential consideration. The numerous selection criteria will be balanced with a very limited number of available participant slots. Please note that Office “14” servers are 64-bit only.
Regards, Office Customer Program Team
In case you want the official response from Microsoft on all things Office 14-related, here it is again, delivered via a company spokesperson on August 18:
"At this point we don't have anything further to share on O14 build/timing - it is too early to discuss specific features, capabilities or timing for the next release."
It still sounds like the final Office 14 is on track for 2009 -- though probably not in the first half. Anyone else -- TAP or not -- hearing otherwise?