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FAQ: All you need to try out the Office 2010 Beta

Everyone can get Microsoft's next-gen productivity suite, but all the pieces aren't ready

November 19, 2009 01:51 PM ET

Computerworld - As anticipated, Microsoft yesterday launched the first, and likely only, public beta of Office 2010.

Because this is the last available-to-all milestone for the new suite, Microsoft's geared up to get the beta into the hands of a very large group. "Instead of tens of thousands who tried the Technical Preview, now we're talking about millions and million of people," Takeshi Numoto, the corporate vice president for Office, said in an interview Wednesday.

On your end, the best thing about Office 2010 Beta is that you can use it free-of-charge for nearly a year: The preview won't expire until Oct. 31, 2010.

But what does our expert say? "Anyone interested in Office should get a copy of this beta," wrote Preston Gralla in his first-take review. "It was solid and performed well without crashing once. I experienced none of the slowness that you sometimes do with betas."

You can find out whether Gralla's right by downloading the beta and giving Office 2010 a spin yourself. But where is it, how do you install it, what do you need to run it, and how do you get rid of it if it's a can of worms?

Questions, questions, questions. Here are our answers.

When can I download the beta? That's easy: Now. Microsoft rolled out the beta during a keynote at its Professional Developers Conference (PDC) mid-day Wednesday.

Where do I get it? The public download is available from the Microsoft site, on this page.

Office 2010, by the way, is the first Microsoft suite to be offered in both 32- and 64-bit versions. Choose the version that fits your operating system. You can check to see whether you have a 32-bit or 64-bit edition of Windows 7 by clicking the Start button, then clicking Control Panel and System Maintenance. Click System.

Follow the instructions here for checking Vista and XP.

Is Microsoft limiting who can download the beta, like it did with the Technical Preview, or the number of people who can have it? No, there is no numerical cap on the number of downloads for Office 2010.

It's unclear whether Microsoft will set a time limit on Office 2010 Beta, as it did for Windows 7 Release Candidate (RC) last summer. "I'm not sure if we have a specific plan to shut off availability at some point," said Numoto. Microsoft does plan, however, on making sure "millions and millions" of users are able to download and try the preview, Numoto added.

What edition of Office 2010 is the beta? At the Nov. 18 debut, the version offered everyone was Office Professional Plus 2010, the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink collection.



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