Microsoft roadmap leaks for Office 15, IE 10 and more key products

Microsoft roadmap leaks for Office 15, IE 10 and more key products

Summary: Screen shots of a Microsoft product roadmap for partners have leaked to the Web. Here are the key take-aways.


Microsoft has provided some of its partners with a roadmap for next versions of many of its key products, including Office 15, IE 10 and Windows Phone, and parts of that document have leaked to the Web.

One of the partners who received the roadmap, Maarten Visser, CEO of Meetroo -- a new SharePoint and mobility startup -- recently posted screen shots from it and tweeted links to them.

"For who want to know: I got the roadmap from the Microsoft Partner Network, where it can be downloaded without logon," Visser tweeted a week ago.

Visser gave me permission to embed his screen shots on my blog. I can verify this roadmap, which is marked confidential, was distributed by Microsoft externally to some of its partners and bears a 12/22/11 date. As Visser indicated, the document is/was not password-protected by Microsoft (for whatever reason).

Here are the two shots Visser posted from the roadmap:

(click on image above to enlarge)

(click on image above to enlarge)

And here's the key to what the symbols mean that are on the roadmap:

My 10 key takeaways from the roadmap:

The Windows piece of the roadmap is unsurprisingly vague about anything beyond the Developer Preview. Because the roadmaps were created in December last year, they don't even mention the Consumer Preview, which Microsoft released on February 29. The roadmap specifies "Windows 8 information will be communicated via other channels." (In other words, what happens in Windows client is only shared by Windows client.)

Internet Explorer 10 looks like it could be released any time now. Microsoft officials have never said when they planned to deliver IE 10 for Windows 7; in fact, they haven't updated the preview build for Windows 7 since June 2011. But note that the symbol marking general availability (in terms of the color orange) for IE 10 is a bar instead of a square. The bar symbol, according to the key for the roadmap, indicates "historical cadence." So all I can say for sure from this is if Microsoft follows its established release patterns, IE 10 could be out by mid-year -- maybe around the time Microsoft delivers the Windows 8 Release Candidate.

The Office 15 wave of products don't specify an RTM date. (The release to manufacturing dates are marked by circles on the roadmaps.) But they do indicate general availability for these products will be in the early part of 2013. As I've reported before, the "whisper date" for Office 15 RTM is November 2012, but the launch/general availability date is believed to be early next year.

Lync Server 15 is the one Office 15 product that is missing entirely from the roadmap. The roadmap for Lync shows Lync Online only, which is being updated quarterly like the rest of the products (Exchange Online and SharePoint Online which comprise the Office 365 family). Does that mean Lync is going cloud only with the next release? No. I hear Microsoft still is planning to release an on-premises Lync Server 15 product, but maybe it will lag the release of the rest of the family in terms of its RTM date.

On the Windows Phone front, the roadmap also is fairly vague. There's a square (marking general availability) somewhere around the latter part of 2012 marked as "future investments." This could be the Tango Windows Phone updates for the Mango release of the operating system. I tend to think it's more likely, though, that this is Apollo, a k a the Windows Phone 8 operating system -- which Microsoft has told some of its partners will be out before the end of this year.

There are other interesting parts of the roadmap which Visser didn't post screen shots of. These include:

Silverlight: The roadmap shows Silverlight 5's December 2011 release to the Web. After that, there's nothing on the roadmap indicating that future releases are in the pipeline.

Visual Studio: VS11, the coming release of Microsoft's tool suite that will support Windows 8, is shown as being released to manufacturing in the latter part of 2012, as expected.

SQL Server: The roadmap shows SQL Server 2012 Parallel Data Warehouse as being released to manufacturing in the latter part of 2012. It also indicates an online transaction processing (OLTP) appliance from HP running SQL Server 2012 will be out around the same time -- the latter part of this year.

IIS: Around mid-year, Microsoft will release to manufacturing codename "Antares," which I recently blogged about. Antares, which may be IIS 8.0, based on how the roadmap reads, is Microsoft's Web hosting framework for Azure and on-premises Windows Servers.

Things to keep in mind about all this. First, while December 2011 doesn't seem all that long ago, dates slip and commitments/priorities change, meaning these targets may not be absolutely on track. Also: There's a tendency by some teams at Microsoft to pad dates provided to partners to keep Microsoft from looking late. (The old "under-promise/over-deliver" thing.) So some of these targets also could contain a bit of "fat."

Update: And here's a Microsoft spokesperson emphasizing those same caveats in a statement sent to me via e-mail today: "We often provide forward-looking information to our partners and customers under our confidentially agreements with them. This information contains our best estimates and is, in no way, final or definitive."

Topics: Windows, Browser, Collaboration, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Office on WOA?

    What does the release date of Office 15 mean for the incorporation of Office apps in WOA? I thought Microsoft was aiming for a simultaneous launch of Office 15 and Windows 8/WOA.

    Also, are these calendar years, or fiscal years? (Microsoft's fiscal years don't line up with calendar years)
    • calendar or fiscal

      Hi. Based on the products that are included in there that have shipped already, these seem to be calendar years, not MS fiscal years.

      Re: WOA and the "inclusion" of the four O15 apps, I'm thinking the apps will be beta or RC and upgradable to final when O15 RTMs.... MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Hmm....

        How is that going to work if these are incorporated into what is likely going to be an embedded-style license of Windows? Microsoft would have to send the RTM software to the OEM to be distributed to end-users because Microsoft doesn't handle end-user support for OEM or embedded products. I don't think Microsoft would allow the beta software to be downloadable separately, since it makes them look bad by not allowing any 3rd-party desktop applications to be installable on WOA. It also goes against their comment about Office 15 "coming with" WOA. Something about this situation doesn't add up.

        Perhaps the 4 core Office products (for ARM) will be completed by the release of WOA, but the x86 suites won't reach GA until 2013. The ARM versions are a limited SKU release anyway. No doubt getting the SKU's for all of the x86 suites worked out for all of the different sales channels will take a lot longer.

        Oh, and I would imagine that Microsoft has a special internal version of Visual Studio to compile the ARM desktop apps, since there is no public development track for desktop ARM apps.
      • It must be nice to be Microsoft.

        It must be nice to be Microsoft. While shit-storms of hate and ugly accusations surround Apple all over the internet 24/7/365, Microsoft sails by with the biggest concern being what features will be included is some release 2 years from now.
        It's nice when you "own" the reporters, the media, the government, the Judges, the Commissions, The Non-Profit Orgs., etc.
      • What does Apple owning

        reporters, the media, the government, the Judges, the Commissions, The Non-Profit Orgs., etc. have to do with this story, zato_3@...?
        William Farrel
  • Bad vibes about this.

    Things missing in current office that used to be in Office 97 and 2003.
    SCAN TO DOCUMENT OCR and insert picture.
    It takes more steps to finnish creating that document!
    The way Microsoft Office is heading I can only assume larger blinking orange button.

    The entire suite will be futher dumbed down to look like to be for kindergarden kids.
    • Getting a little carried away?

      I doubt you will find a single review dubbing Office 15 as "dumbed down". The nit you are picking has more to do with Microsoft commitment to their third party ISV partners than anything else. "The way Microsoft is heading" looks to be awesome. In your myopic world, you see things differently.
    • Why?

      Why do some people find it so outlandish for a company to make it easier for their customers to operate the software that they purchase? Just wondering????
      • Very true

        OnceI got a hang of Office 97 then upgraded to 2003 I then
        really felt "AT HOME" knowing where and how to do things without asking for help all the time. The Office team loves to always reintroduce the bell curve.
  • roadmaps are calendar...

    ...names are fiscal; so RTM in 2012 will be a 2013 name if it's after July ;) For WOA it could be RTM final code on WOA and for Office for holiday season and still not GA until 2013 - look at the SQL Server 2012 hokey cokey release dance...
  • Mary Jo!

    Mary Jo;

    I don't get on here and comment much like I used to and having said this, I just want to let you know that I greatly appreciate your hard work in researching, writing, and publishing your findings in these articles.

    There, I said it.

    Douglas S. Taylor
    Author and Writer
    The Douginator
    • Thanks!

      Glad the posts are useful! MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • Yes

        I also enjoy very professional, unbiased analysis provided in M.J's articles. I enjoy the fact that she does not produce stories out of no where, she rather performs a criminal research :) on the available facts and reliable info and tries to connect them.

        Mac, PG, Malaysia
    • Seconded

      Well said.
  • More on WOA and O15 apps

    @JoeRaby: Remember, though, we also don't know what MS means by the word "include" with the Office apps for WOA. When I asked if that meant bundled, they wouldn't say....

    I agree with you, though: If MS does bundle these, I'd think they'd need to be the final versions and not beta ones. MJ
    Mary Jo Foley
    • "We just don't know" again

      Well, that's exactly the point: We still don't know how to define "include". Maybe WOA will ship without Office and Microsoft releases an "Office on ARM" edition.
  • Gotcha

    What's the difference between posting a confidential document that wasn't password protected, and burglarizing a house that wasn't locked? Nothing. The decent person would have returned the document to Microsoft (or any other originator) and said, "You forgot to protect this." Evil is evil, no matter who you're playing gotcha against.
    • I agree

      I think perhaps Mr. Maarten Visser will be receiving an uncomfortable phone call from a Microsoft executive shortly. This is not how a "partner" should treat confidential information.
  • Thank you for the story

    Microsoft actually does a stellar job of producing developer tools and this report is exciting.

    However, it is clear that for those of us using Microsoft products to build applications are in the unenviable position of continuing to work with tools which are going to become legacy some time later this year or earlier next year.

    It's sad to be on the leading edge of obsolescence.
    • Playing it safe?

      Companies feel more safe in older versions. But it's harder to hire good talent - when employees love what's next. And it's harder to get support - when vendors are always focused on what's next. Companies feel more safe in older versions, and to some extent they are right, but not very.