Select testers get Office 14 alpha release

Select testers get Office 14 alpha release

Summary: I know I said just yesterday that no testers seemed to have any Office 14 code yet. Well, surprise, surprise, some external testers say they've now got access to documentation outlining what's coming in the alpha build that the company is starting to distribute today.

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Microsoft is set to begin has begun providing selected testers with access to alpha versions of its Office 14 server wares.

(Yes, I know I said just yesterday that no testers seemed to have O14 code yet. Well, surprise, surprise, some external testers say they've now got access to documentation outlining what's coming in the imminent alpha build .)

Update: Here's Microsoft's statement, delivered via a spokesperson on January 13:

"Today Microsoft provided a select group of customers early access to an Alpha version of Office server technologies. However, Microsoft is not disclosing information about the timing for a Beta version at this time."

Testers are going to being provided with early versions of the next release of SharePoint Server 14 -- along with the promised Office Web apps (Webified versions of some of Microsoft's key Office apps) which are tied to SharePoint 14. They are also getting SharePoint Services 14; Search Server 14; and Project Server 14. Microsoft also is providing the alpha testers with an early version of its identity server, codenamed "Geneva," which the company is telling testers must be installed as a prerequisite for Office 14.

Testers also said they are on tap to receive a brand new alpha SKU, designated as "Office for Sales 14." (Stay tuned for my next post, which will be all about Office for Sales.)

Microsoft isn't planning to accept bug reports on the alpha versions of the Office 14 servers. Instead, company officials are telling testers to deploy the Office 14 wares on non-production Windows Server 2008 machines just to get an idea of what Microsoft is planning with its next slew of Office releases.

Microsoft also told the alpha testers to expect a "first beta"of Office 14 later this year.

Yesterday, when I was chatting with Rajesh Jha, Corporate Vice President of Office Live and Exchange, I asked him for a timetable for Office 14. He said to expect Microsoft to update customers "later this quarter" about its rollout and release plans for Office 14.

Testers to whom I've been speaking said their Microsoft reps have been telling them Office 14 could still ship by the end of this calendar year, but also might slip into early 2010.

Jha said that Microsoft also has been testing Exchange 14 -- primarily the Microsoft-hosted Exchange 14 Online release -- for the past several months via its Exchange Labs program. (The next version of Exchange Online and Exchange Server 14 are based on the same codebase, Jha confirmed, and are being developed in tandem.) Exchange Labs testers are primarily college and university users and administrators.

A few things to remember when trying to figure out whether Microsoft will be able to ship Office 14 this year (something I still believe they have an opportunity to do):

  • The team has been actively developing Office 14 for nearly two years. A private, very select group of external testers seemingly has been working with Microsoft on this for months. (Just as is the case with Windows 7.)
  • It took Microsoft  year from the time it fielded Beta 1 of Office 2007 to release the product to manufacturing. That was in the November 2005 to November 2006 period. Microsoft's software development processes have tightened up a lot since then....
  • Even if the product ends up christened Office 2010, it still technically could RTM in calendar 2009

I've asked Microsoft for more information on the pending Office 14 alpha and am waiting to hear back.  (Note: Microsoft comment was added to the beginning of this story). In the interim, I'll try to unearth more about the new features that are part of the various Office 14 point products.

Are there any next-gen Office features in which you're specifically interested? What do you hope makes it into the next Office client and server releases?

Topics: Collaboration, Microsoft, Software

About

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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Talkback

16 comments
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  • Any idea if you can scan directly into Word?

    With Office 2007, MS actually had to issue a technical bulletin.

    http://support.microsoft.com/kb/827100

    Microsoft morons at their finest. Office XP is one of the most pirated programs for a reason: for power users it has more features and works better.
    croberts
  • The real question....Why?

    I have supported many businesses including an entire University, mom and pops shops and mid-sized businesses. About 70% of these people need Word and Email. Another 20% need spreadsheets. Less than 5% need a database. The other 5% are uber-nerds like me who dont really *need* the other stuff but could do it if we really had a reason to.. which.. we dont.

    The only reason I have upgraded Office for users in the last 9 years is because the version they had wasnt available anymore and they couldnt open their word files that people had sent them as an attachment. Period.

    Not ONE person of the literally hundreds I have supported have EVER said to me.. "Hay! That new Office has <feature> that I would really like, please upgrade me!"

    What I get a lot more of is "I wish they wouldnt change this, I was doing just fine before they changed <feature, function, menu, document compatability>

    Strange how most everyone was happy with what they had but were generally forced to buy something they didnt really want.

    The cycle goes like this..
    ------------------------------
    *Figure out some new whiz-bang for marketing.

    *Create new version which for some reason just dosent seem to work with the older versions.

    *Stop selling the older versions.

    *Wait for users to find incompatabilities between new and old version.

    *Watch people upgrade.
    ------------------------------

    People need email and word.
    Some people need spreadsheets.
    A few people need databases.

    Nobody I support needs, wants, or really cares about the rest of it.


    It has been this way since Office 97.

    It will be this way till Office End Of World, now with transendental document sharing (not compatible with previous versions)
    supercharlie
    • Agree, with one exception.

      Agree, with the exception of the ribbon. I think the ribbon really helped usability.

      But other than that? Totally agree.

      I'm not very excited by the tweaking game the previous versions played, and I'm not very excited by this "web 2.0" trend and the attempts to make everything webified, even applications where it doesn't make sense.

      You're right - the needs of the users for these types of applications really hasn't changed much. 99% of the changes that are made to Office make are pretty much for the power users.

      You're right - most people don't want and don't need a lot of changes to their basic applications.

      It's pretty much planned obsolescence. Change for the sake of change, to keep profit rolling in. That's pretty much how the software industry has been working for years.

      Wanna know the real reason for this whole web 2.0 thing? Planned obsolescence. Change for the sake of change. Another step towards renting software instead of buying it. Another way to keep cash flowing in.

      Call me cynical, but the supposed "advantages" of this whole web 2.0 stuff aren't that great.

      The incredibly increased reliability was way off base - we went from single computers that lasted for years to large server farms that seem to have troubles staying up for months, even with "redundancy." "Redundancy" seems to be code for "instead of losing data to a hard drive crash, our data center gets struck by lightning more than the Empire State Building and hacked every other day."

      In addition, all of this web 2.0 stuff has this wonderful "feature" that, instead of having to use a relatively painless installer, you lose access to all of your data whenever you fly on an airplane. No thanks, I'll stick to my "complicated" installers. Tell me when there's a better idea.

      Did I mention the supposed increased security that, instead of the occasional script carried by a floppy, we now have professional hackers ready to take over your data stored on somebody else's servers, ask for your personal information while looking like your bank, and give pictures of naked ladies to your wife and the cops? Isn't this web 2.0 thing great?

      This whole Internet thing - it's great, don't get me wrong. It opens up a lot of possibilities. It's great being able to keep in contact with people across the world. It's great being able to buy stuff without leaving my chair. It's great being able to do stuff at home that I had to do elsewhere every once in a while.

      But must we really put [b]everything[/b] on it?

      It's great - but it's not that great.

      As in most things - I don't think the answer is ultimately to one extreme or the other. I think there has to be some happy medium where online and offline coexist peacefully and where we don't need to be online 24/7 to be productive.

      I really, honestly, do not think that the ultimate, eventual answer will be online. I think that it's going to be hybrid.
      CobraA1
  • Not excited.

    Not terribly excited. I'm not a big fan of webifying everything under the sun, and don't really see the big benefits of doing so.

    The ribbon was very nice as it solved some real life problems, and from watching my parents and other people use it, I think it was a great move, despite some complaints about being so different and some lack of customization. It solved the problems it was designed to solve, and it's a lot easier to find the features you want in it.

    After watching what people [b]did[/b] with Office rather than what they complained about, I'm very convinced that the complaints are only temporary and that it was a very good move in the long run.

    But Office 14? Big feature is the webified stuff?

    Bah, that's just following the misguided crowd on something that's likely to be a fad.

    To be honest, I think it would be nice to solidify their existing products. Allow a bit more customization to the ribbon (but [b]NOT[/b] the "accidentally drag something to the wrong place" kind). Make Outlook a bit smarter at finding and removing duplicates created by poorly designed synchronization software. Make it handle IMAP timeouts better.

    I think that Outlook would probably benefit the most from another look at the UI. It's decent, but I don't think it's there yet.

    The functionality of Outlook is great, though. After hating it so much, I took a second look and I truly can't believe nobody else has tried to get into the PIM game. Mail, Contacts, Calendar, TODO list, Notes - it's all there, in one place. Everything is integrated and drag & droppable too. Works great with my mobile device as well, except the occasional time when it creates a lot of duplicates. Why has nobody else done this??

    IMHO I think the best thing to do right now is to continue going strong in what Office does best.
    CobraA1
  • Talkbacks dissappearing?

    What the . . .

    This had several talkbacks. Where did they go???????????
    CobraA1
  • okay, that's odd

    Okay, that's odd - the talkbacks are there when I submit them, but not when I read the article.
    CobraA1
  • RE: Select testers to get Office 14 alpha release any day now

    I wonder how to become alpha tester.
    -Riwut-
    http://blog.libinuko.com/?p=18
    cakriwut
  • RE: Select testers to get Office 14 alpha release any day now

    WHY are we talking about an ALPHA software release??
    It will be the same crap as with previous versions. Not compatible with older versions and trying to sell "NEW and IMPROVED" that really isn't.
    I'm moving all my customers away from "MS Office" to "Open Office"! It's a) Cheaper as in $$ and b) fills the needs of writing and spreadsheets.
    As a previous talkback mentioned, that's all 95% of users need.
    When was the time MJF talked about an Alpha version of Thunderbird or Firefox or Wordperfect or Lotus or... you get the drift.??
    Northwolf
  • Powerpoint? Publisher?

    How come nobody talks about users using Powerpoint? I use it all the time.

    What about Publisher? I don't do a whole lot of publishing, and it does what I need when I need to.

    How does Writer or Impress compare to Publisher?
    FlyingsCool
  • Hopes? SharePoint/Outlook integration (*true* integ.), offline support

    The inability to keep all materials relevant to a particular topic/client/project--especially email--is a big hole in SharePoint currently. Yes, it can be done, but it's hardly easy for the end-user, and it's very limited. There are also some significant scale limitations (on the UI side) that make this impractical. Once this is added, SharePoint becomes a much, much stronger ECM solution.

    Offline support is perhaps just as important.
    blu_vg@...
  • How will it compare with Google Docs?

    I'm interested about the features it will have
    compared to Google Docs. For collaboration, Docs is
    excellent, but more features could be added (just take
    a look at Zoho).
    http://googlescloud.blogspot.com
    Shuelin
  • Download it here! Alpha version

    download the genuine alpha version of alpha here:

    http://www.techguides.freeforums.org/
    gothev
    • Cant find it

      can someone pass the alpha version to me too??
      shomeet@...
  • Download it Here! Alpha version

    this is the site no joke (I SWEAR TO GOD)

    http://www.techguides4free.com/
    gothev
    • testing

      thnk for 14" beta. i want to send my coment
      dnsp
  • RE: Select testers to get Office 14 alpha release any day now

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