Outlook 2010 has been seen out in the wild, courtesy of an anonymous source within the Education team at Microsoft.
This is major news for students as most universities have adopted to Office 2007, which thankfully, it seems for the time being, Office 2010 will sport the same user interface. However, with the release expected late this year, most likely next year at some point, with an adoption already still very much under trial, I do not foresee universities jumping on the Office 2010 bandwagon just yet.
This is the About box, which at the moment sports only the license agreement and privacy statement. You can probably start to feel as to how this version of Office will present itself; bright, energetic and citrus in colour.
While the icons are still to be desired as they have clearly not been finished yet, you can tell from the revised user interface that a clean look is important to users. It also sheds some light as to what "OIS" and "InterConnect" are; possibly the new name for Groove?
Outlook 2010 now sports the Ribbon toolbar, which was implemented due to the massive increase of features within the application. Depending on the back-end infrastructure, the next generation of Exchange Server will presumably offer more functionality along with Outlook.
As you can clearly see, most of the application has been blanked out as to first and foremost protect the identity of the employee, but also to ensure their emails and Outlook items are preserved.
The interface is less confusing, much cleaner and feels more seamless than before. I've never been able to get my head around Outlook 2003 or 2007, but perhaps if Outlook 2010 is put forward with Office Home and Student (or whichever way they decide to go with SKU's) then it would give students a better email management system.
Whilst some sources remain to be sceptical, and understandably so, all evidence currently points to a final name of Microsoft Office 2010, or some combination of the name. We will have to wait and see, because Microsoft do love throwing a curve-ball at any given opportunity...
This other screenshot yields some interesting thoughts, also, with the name Office 2010 clearly displayed with a new orange logo. As the text suggests, this is currently "placeholder branding" but suggestions from around the web seem to point to it being the accurate name for the final product.
Excited? Dismayed? Leave your thoughts and witty banter below.