Microsoft Office 2010 is now available for free download in Beta form.
The download is for Office Professional Plus 2010, a feature-laden edition that will be available only to enterprises and organizations that purchase licences in volume when the final suite ships next year.
Office Professional Plus includes Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath, SharePoint Workspace - formerly called Groove - and Communicator.
The 32-bit version of the English-language suite runs 685MB, while the 64-bit edition tips the scales at 750MB.
Users who download Office 2010 Beta are provided with a 25-character product key to activate the preview.
The updated Office will be available in two separate formats: a traditional PC-based edition and a completely web-based version. Both products are expected to be released in the first half of 2010.
So far, Microsoft has offered a preview of its next desktop suite only to a relatively small group of testers. It has also opened the online edition, Office Web Apps, to a similar preview.
Office Web Apps includes lightweight versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint and will be made available to millions free of charge in the first half of next year, the only timetable Microsoft has set for Office 2010's ship date.
People who download Office 2010 Beta can try out the public preview of Office Web Apps by using a Windows Live account to create, edit, store and retrieve documents online.
Office Web Apps require Internet Explorer 7 (IE7) or later on Windows; Firefox 3.5 or later on Windows, Mac and Linux; or Safari 4.0 or later on the Mac.
Microsoft today launched a public beta of Office Mobile 2010 as well.
That suite, which runs on Windows Mobile 6.5-based phones, includes scaled-back versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and new SharePoint Workspace Mobile 2010. It can be downloaded from the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, DelBene said.
DelBene did not set a timetable for the release of Office 2010, keeping to the company line that the suite will ship in the first half of next year.
Anyone will be eligible to test drive the Office 2010 beta, said Microsoft today - see technical specifications below.
In a keynote presentation at its annual Professionals Developer Conference (PDC) in Los Angeles, Kurt DelBene, Microsoft's senior vice president of the Office business productivity group, announced the immediate availability of the Office 2010 Beta.
"In the last few minutes, we have made available the public beta of Office 2010," said DelBene.
"It's now available on the Web, and we hope you all download it."
Sporting mostly incremental improvements, Office 2010 serves to bridge the gap between the Windows Vista and Windows 7 eras by streamlining the product's controversial Ribbon-based user interface and extending it to encompass the full range of Office applications.
Last summer, Microsoft said that it expected to distribute millions of copies of the Office 2010 public beta.
You must have a Windows Live ID to download the software.
Technical specifications for running the Microsoft Office 2010 Beta:
- 500MHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor or higher
- 256MBof system memory or more
- 3GB of available disk space
- 1,024x768 or higher resolution monitor
- DVD-R/W Drive
- Windows XP with Service Pack (SP) 3 (32-bit)
- Windows Vista with SP1 (32-bit or 64-bit)
- Windows Server 2003 R2 (32-bit or 64-bit)
- Windows Server 2008 with SP2 (32-bit or 64-bit)
- Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit)