As widely expected, Microsoft has begun rolling out the public beta of its Office 2010 suite this week.
On November 16, Microsoft made the beta code available to subscribers to its MSDN and TechNet services. Microsoft is expected to open up the beta, so that anyone who'd like to try it can download it -- possibly this week (though Microsoft officials refused to confirm that when I asked them today).
Microsoft also has made the 64-bit Beta version of Office Web Apps -- its Web-centric versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote -- available for download to MSDN and TechNet subscribers today. (No word yet if/when the 32-bit version of Office Web Apps will appear on MSDN/TechNet). The public also is expected to get the refreshed Office Web Apps bits, possibly this week. Again, Microsoft officials won't confirm the public availability date, beyond saying it will be "in November."
Microsoft has set up a download page from which the public will be able to download the Beta bits. On that page, Microsoft lists as the versions it will make available the Office Home and Business 2010; Office Professional 2010 and Office Professional Plus 2010 versions of the product.
Among the noticeable changes between the beta and the Community Technology Preview (CTP) build of Office 2010 that Microsoft released this summer are the new installation procedures for the beta build, a new Upload Center, modifications to the Backstage view; and new icons for all the Office products that are part of the suite, according to a post on the Redmond Pie blog.
Last week, a build of Office 2010 build that was marked "Beta 2" leaked to the Web. That build was number 14.0.4514.1009. Microsoft officials told me that the leaked build was not the same one as would be released later this month.
Many Microsoft watchers are expecting the company to make the public beta bits available on November 18, as that is the day that one of Microsoft's Office big-wigs, Senior Vice President Kurt DelBene, is keynoting the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference in Los Angeles. Given that Microsoft often releases bits to MSDN and TechNet subscribers anywhere from a couple of days to a week-plus before it makes them available to the public, I wouldn't be surprised to see the public Office 2010 and Office Web Apps Beta 2s to go live this week.
Microsoft is expected to launch the final version of Office 2010 client, Office Web Apps and SharePoint Server 2010 in May/June 2010.
I'd like to hear what folks think of the Beta once they've had a chance to download and try out the client and Office Web Apps versions both. What is new and different?