Microsoft unveils Office 2010 public beta

As expected, company posts preview for general download

As expected, Microsoft today launched its first public beta of Office 2010, posting the preview for download on its Web site.

In a keynote presentation at its annual Professionals Developer Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, Kurt DelBene, Microsoft's senior vice president of the Office business productivity group, announced the immediate availability of the Office 2010 Beta. "In the last few minutes, we have made available the public beta of Office 2010," said DelBene during his time on stage at PDC shortly after 1 p.m. ET. "It's now available on the Web, and we hope you all download it."

Microsoft added a download link for the beta to its Web site Wednesday. Computerworld immediately began downloading the preview. Although the beta had not finished downloading as this story was filed and posted, Computerworld encountered no problem reaching the site, retrieving a product key or initiating the download.

The download is for Office Professional Plus 2010, a feature-laden edition that will be available only to enterprises and organizations that purchase licenses in volume when the final suite ships next year. Office Professional Plus includes Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, SharePoint Workspace -- formerly called Groove -- and Communicator. The 32-bit version of the English-language suite runs 685MB, while the 64-bit edition tips the scales at 750MB.

Users who download Office 2010 Beta are provided with a 25-character product key to activate the preview.

Earlier this week, Microsoft made the beta available to developers and IT professionals who subscribe to the MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network) and TechNet services, hinting that the public version's launch was imminent.

Microsoft also launched a public beta of Office Web Apps, its entry into the online Web applications market. Two months ago, Microsoft cranked up an invitiation-only preview of the online editions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, but delivered bare-bones versions. Word Web App, for instance, allowed testers only to view Word documents online, not edit them.

People who download Office 2010 Beta can try out the public preview of Office Web Apps by using a Windows Live account to create, edit, store and retrieve documents online. Office Web Apps require Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) or later on Windows; Firefox 3.5 or later on Windows, Mac and Linux; or Safari 4.0 or later on the Mac. Microsoft today launched a public beta of Office Mobile 2010 as well. That suite, which runs on Windows Mobile 6.5-based phones, includes scaled-back versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and new SharePoint Workspace Mobile 2010. It can be downloaded from the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, DelBene said.

DelBene did not set a timetable for the release of Office 2010, keeping to the company line that the suite will ship in the first half of next year.

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