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Office 15 Beta Slated for Summer, Time to Move to Office 2010

The next generation of Microsoft Office is looming--a cue for those clinging to legacy versions to switch to Office 2010.

Microsoft has launched the community technical preview (CTP) for Office 15 to a limited audience, with a public beta planned for summer of 2012. With what will likely end up being Office 2013 looming on the horizon, it’s time for those still using Office 2007 to migrate to Office 2010.

At this point, we know very little about what Office 15 will bring to the table. A post on Microsoft’s Office Exec blog by PJ Hough, CVP of development for Microsoft Office, declares, “At this early point in our development cycle, I'm not able to share too much about Office 15, but I can tell you Office 15 is the most ambitious undertaking yet for the Office Division.”

What we do know is that Windows 8 is imminent, and that Windows 8 is built on a new Metro interface, and will run on tablets including those built on ARM processors. My PCWorld peer Jared Newman points out, “Office 15 is also expected to have some Metro-style enhancements for Windows 8 tablets, but Microsoft hasn't commented on that, nor has the company said whether Office 15 will support Windows 8 on ARM devices.”

In my opinion, the shroud of secrecy may work for Apple, but Microsoft should be more open and revealing with details. The leaks and speculation offer very little useful insight. Organizations around the world that are still using Office 2007 or older versions, and are considering upgrading to a new version of Office need to have the information necessary to decide whether it makes sense to hold out for Office 15, or just pull the trigger now and switch to Office 2010 (or Office 2011 on Mac OS X).

Throughout its existence, though, organizations have been perpetually behind the curve when it comes to Microsoft Office. There is always some sort of viewer tool for those with legacy versions to be able to open and view newer file formats, and options within Office to revert to older file formats when working with customers or partners that still rely on some previous version of Office.

For some it is a matter of incentive. If Microsoft Office is already meeting their needs, and the new version doesn’t have any new capabilities that make a compelling case for upgrading, there is no reason to bother. For others it is a matter of stability, and opting for a time-tested version rather than volunteering to real-world beta test the bleeding edge version.

We know the next version of Office is coming. It may be called Office 2013, or it may be Office 2012, or Microsoft could shake things up with an entirely new naming scheme. We don’t know what features or functionality it will have, but it will soon be here which means that your current legacy version of Microsoft Office will be one step closer to the grave.

The Office 15 CTP is your wake up call that it is time to seriously consider getting off of Office 2003 or Office 2007, and at least catch up to Office 2010 to make sure you can continue to work smoothly with customers and partners that do make the switch to Office 15.

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