Microsofts 2007 Office system code has gone gold, the software maker said on Nov. 6.
This milestone means that the Microsoft Office code has been released to manufacturing before that of Windows Vista, which entered its last official beta test last month with the availability of the second release candidate.
But, Microsoft officials noted, the worldwide business availability of the 2007 Office system, Vista and Exchange Server 2007 is still on track for Nov. 30, when company executives will participate in events around the globe, including an event with CEO Steve Ballmer in New York.
That will be followed by the general availability of the products in early 2007.
Some products within the Office system, such as Office Live, Microsoft Office Communicator and PerformancePoint Server, have not yet gone gold as they are on different development timelines and are not expected to RTM at this time, Chris Schneider, senior marketing manager for Microsofts Information Worker Product Management Group, told eWEEK.
But all of the desktop productivity applications and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 have gone gold, he said, adding that beyond the overall code quality for RTM, other notable updates include a new service—SMS Link for Office Outlook 2007—that lets Outlook 2007 users connect with mobile phones using SMS text messaging.
It allows people to send and receive e-mail, contacts, appointments and tasks as text messages to mobile phones, he said.
More information about the 2007 Microsoft Office system and the new SMS Link service can be found by visiting the new Office Online.
The RTM of the 2007 Office system code ends the largest Office beta program to date, where more than 3.5 million people downloaded the second beta.
In addition, Microsoft is offering customers a program under which they can download and try the 2007 Office system products for free. This expands the current Online Test Drive and will allow people to try the new desktop programs before they buy or upgrade to the 2007 release, Schneider said.
The trial program starts on Dec. 1 in the United States and Canada, and will then be rolled out in short order to another 13 international markets—the United Kingdom, Ireland, Germany, France, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Italy, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Mexico.
The program will also be expanded into additional markets before, and after, its general availability in early 2007, Schneider said.
Microsoft Office Professional 2007, Microsoft Office Small Business 2007, Microsoft Office Standard 2007, and Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 will all be available for downloadable and convertible trial.
A number of programs will also be available under the trial, including Microsoft Office Groove 2007, Microsoft Office OneNote 2007, Microsoft Office Project Standard 2007, Microsoft Office Publisher 2007, Microsoft Office Accounting Professional 2007 (U.S. only) and Accounting Express (as a part of the Professional download), Microsoft Office Visio Standard 2007, and Microsoft Office Visio Professional 2007, Schneider said.
The free trial period begins after a user downloads and activates the programs of choice. "After that, you can participate in the trial program for 60 days before being prompted to convert to full-packaged product through a simple process on Office Online or by visiting a local retailer. The process of activating trial software begins automatically when you first open any Microsoft Office product trial," Schneider said.
If the user decides not to purchase the complete product after the trial period, he or she would still be able to view and print existing files, but would not have the ability to create new files, modify existing files or save files, he said.
Also coming with the new Office system is assistance from nearly 50,000 help articles, a how-to refresher through one of 35 new demonstrations, online training through any of the 24 new courses, downloading of one of the more than 400 new templates, and accessing of other product downloads and tools, Schneider said.