Office Code Goes Gold

Microsoft releases code to manufacturing, readying it for early 2007 release

Microsofts 2007 Office system code has gone gold.

Reached 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 said, 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 host events worldwide, including one 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 Performance-Point Server, have not yet gone gold because they are on different development timelines, Chris Schneider, senior marketing manager for Microsofts Information Worker Product Management Group, told eWeek.

But all the desktop productivity applications and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 have gone gold, Schneider said, adding that beyond the overall code quality for RTM (release to manufacturing), other notable updates include a new service—SMS Link for Office Outlook 2007—that lets Outlook 2007 users connect with mobile phones using SMS (Short Message Service) text messaging.

SMS Link for Office Outlook 2007 allows people to send and receive e-mail, contacts, appointments and tasks as text messages to mobile phones, Schneider said.

The RTM of the 2007 Office system code ends the largest Office beta program to date, with more than 3.5 million people downloading the second beta. In addition, the Redmond, Wash., company 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 enable people to try the new desktop programs before they buy or upgrade to the 2007 release, Schneider said.

The trial program starts Dec. 1 in the United States and Canada and will be rolled out afterward 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 the general availability in early 2007, Schneider said.

Microsofts Office Professional 2007, Office Small Business 2007, Office Standard 2007, and 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 Microsofts Office Groove 2007, Office OneNote 2007, Office Project Standard 2007, Office Publisher 2007, Office Accounting Professional 2007 (in the United States only) and Accounting Express (as a part of the Professional download), Office Visio Standard 2007, and Office Visio Professional 2007, Schneider said.

The free trial period begins after users download and activate their 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 users decide not to buy the complete product after the trial period, they will still be able to view and print existing files but will 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.

Going Gold

Microsoft on Nov. 6 released to manufacturing the code for its 2007 Office system:

* The move ends the largest Office beta program, with more than 3.5 million people downloading the second beta

* All desktop productivity apps within the Office system have been released to manufacturing

* Other products, including Office Live, are on a different schedule and have not yet been released to manufacturing

* A trial program starting Dec. 1 will let customers download the 2007 Office system products for free

Source: eWEEK reporting