A (Microsoft) code name a day: Magnesium

Today's "All About Microsoft" code name of the day is "Magnesium." And it's the perfect time to mention it -- given yesterday's flap over Mac-Windows Office file-format compatibility.

Even though more and more teams at Microsoft seem to be shying away from christening their fledgling products with good, old-fashioned code names – favoring the ever-so-boring “V.Next” designation instead -- there are still some who are doing so.

Microsoft code names always have piqued my interest. They offer some great clues about the Redmondians’ development priorities, not to mention a better understanding of which future Microsoft products fit together, from a strategy standpoint.

code name
of the day:

In honor of Microsoft code-name junkies everywhere, I’m going to feature one, random Microsoft code name per work day for the rest of this month. I’ll provide as much information as I’ve been able to unearth on each, and attempt to provide some context as to how the team chose the name and how the forthcoming technology fits into the Redmond product hierarchy.

Microsoft code name of the day: Magnesium

Best guess on what it is: The next version of Office for Mac (also known as Office 12)

Meaning/context of the code name: "Magnesium" is an interesting choice for the Mac Business Unit. Until now, the Microsoft group that favored metallic code names was the Exchange Server team. (Anyone else remember Exchange Platinum, Mercury and Titanium?)

Back story: It seemed the perfect time to mention the next version of Office for Mac -- despite the fact that it isn't expected to ship until Q2/Q3 of 2007 -- given the flap earlier this week over file-format incompatibilities between Office 2007 and existing versions of Office for Mac. (Just to recap, Microsoft revealed at the end of the day yesterday a "late March/early April" planned availability date for a beta version of the promised converters that will enable Windows-based Office 2007 users to share documents using the new Office 2007 formats.)

Additional info: What do we know so far about Magnesium? APC Magazine got some good details a couple of months back. Expect Magnesium to sport some kind of Mac adaptation of the Office 2007 Ribbon user interface. And it sounds like the new release will get the same new "Open XML" file formats that Office 2007 includes as defaults. Microsoft is planning on dropping three beta versions of Magnesium (though no large-scale public ones, like they did with Office 2007) before releasing the product later next year.

Anyone have any other details on Magnesium to share? Or have another Microsoft code name you’ve been wondering about? Send it my way and I’ll do my best to track down some leads on what it might be.

And if you want to keep track of the full month's worth of Microsoft code names I end up posting, bookmark this "Microsoft Codenames" page.