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Tentative Beta Launch For Office 15 Suggests A 2012 Release Date

Eric is a veteran British tech journalist, currently editing ChannelBiz for NetMediaEurope. With expertise in security, the channel, and Britain's startup culture, through his TechBritannia initiative

Microsoft is starting to take the wraps off “Office 15”, the suite that will blend with Windows 8 and the cloud

Microsoft has kicked off its beta development of Office 2010’s successor with a rather coy entry on the Office Exec Blog.

The announcement of the codenamed “Office 15” technical preview programme explains that a cloak of secrecy is being draped over the work in progress. It is not that there is nothing to show yet, Microsoft has been working on the project for over a year, but anything revealed will be shielded by non-disclosure agreements.

Stable development

Microsoft has been consulting with its key customers as it honed the collective ideas of the development team against the grindstone of commercial reality. Presumably, Microsoft is now at the alpha stage of development where it is ready to release reasonably stable code for the testing process that will lead to wider beta testing later.

In the past, Microsoft has tried to keep Office in step with releases of its operating systems and the imminent release of Windows 8 later this year is a strong impetus to update Office. The new Metro interface of Windows 8 will be wasted on Office 2010 and the arrival of a tablet version of Office will boost Microsoft’s hopes for entering this market.

PJ Hough, Microsoft’s CVP of development for the Microsoft Office Division, blogged that this is his group’s most ambitious undertaking to date.

“With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cCloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio,” he said.

The wraps will come off the new Office in late summer when a public beta programme will open. This is about the time Windows 8 should appear, at least as a release candidate. It is possible that Microsoft will try to get the product out the door by the end of the year so it will be called Office 2012 rather than 2013.

When Microsoft converted the Office 12 beta into the Office 2007 release, it started work on Office 14 (Office 2010) rather than  “unlucky” 13.