Through its official Office blog, Microsoft has announced that a “technical preview” version of Office 15 has just been released, an important milestone in its development process. Unlike the developer preview for Windows 8, the one for Office 15 isn’t available to the public, but is instead limited to testing by those hand-picked by Microsoft and willing to sign a non-disclosure agreement – an interesting move, but one that surely has a good reason behind it.
As it stands, Microsoft has said nothing about what to expect from Office 15, but has called it the “most ambitious undertaking yet for the Office division“. This is no doubt the case due to the fact that Windows 8 is right around the corner. Are we going to see a Metro-styled Office? I think it’s reasonable to believe that Metro will play a role in some part. If I had to guess – the reason a public beta isn’t being made available at this point is due to the fact that it requires a newer build of Windows 8 that’s not available to the public. The current developer preview was released this past September, with the first official beta due next month.
It’s time to get the speculation train rolling. While I do think Metro will affect Office in some way, I don’t see the traditional interface as we know it changing all too much. Office isn’t just some regular application; it’s required for business and if things are changed too much, or productivity stands to suffer, then businesses aren’t going to adopt it. From an end-user perspective, there’s been little reason to upgrade Office every couple of years, so it’ll take something big with Office 15 to change that.
For those hoping to give Office 15 a go, a public beta will be made available at some point during the summer, which should also be around the same time that a Windows 8 beta is well underway. We don’t talk about Microsoft Office all too much around here, but if you are a regular user, is Office 15 something you’re looking forward to?