Office 14, the follow-on to Office 2007, is due out in the first half of calendar year 2009, according to a slide deck allegedly from Microsoft, posted on the AeroXperience blog.
The timeline states that the first beta of Office 14 is due out in the first half of calendar 2008. The second beta is slated for the second haalf of 2008. This year, the plan is to "lock" certain "key innovation areas," the timeline states.
The information on the next version of Office comes at a time when Microsoft is attempting to quell "speculation" about the due dates and feature sets for the post-Vista and post-Office 2007 versions of its flagship products. Microsoft began selling Windows Vista and Office 2007 through all channels on January 31, 2007.
Microsoft is focusing on a handful of "investigation areas" in planning the next version of its Office client, server and services products, according to the posting on AeroXperience. These include individual productivity; communication and collaboration, enterprise content management, business process and business intelligence, Office as a development platform, and manageability and security.
What does that mean, in terms of potential tangible deliverables? If Microsoft delivers on some of its initial goals, Office 14 may:
* Enable users to perform more complex tasks more easily (more Ribbon user interfaces for more Office apps, would be my guess as what this means)
* Provide more self- and community-based help options
* Deliver improved search relevancy
* Include tighter integration of unified communications, unified identity, and unified policy/compliance/support across all apps and for all devices
* Focus on "flexible storage solutions for digital asset management"
* "Bring BI (business intelligence) to the business process itself, as opposed to having it as an isolated as-needed activity"
* More tightly integrate declarative programming and improved Business Data Catalogue capabilities into the core Office development platform
* Provide tools to make global deployments easier, with new "federated, offline and virtualized models"
* Improve SharePoint's offline capabilities.
Caveat: So far, no word back from Microsoft on whether these slides and accompanying info are real. But I've seen a lot of Microsoft slide decks and read a lot of Microsoft planning documents in my day. This strikes me as the real deal.
Update: Microsoft is not disputing the legitimacy of the slides and information in the AeroXperience post. The official statement, delivered via e-mail from a corporate spokeswoman:
"It's common for Microsoft to be planning and having conversationsaround the next version of Office, and while it is typical for the Office team to deliver a new version every 2-3 years there is nothing to disclose at this time."
Wonder if we'll see a Microsoft press release soon, advising customers to ignore "speculation regarding the next version of Office"....
(Thanks to ActiveWin.com for the original link to the AeroXperience blog entry.)