Microsoft Office 2010

Microsoft Sharepoint Server 2010  (Source: Microsoft)
Get ready, because another Microsoft beta party is coming to town

Just in case its customers might feel a little let down for lack of new software products once the eagerly awaited Windows 7 lands this Thursday, Microsoft will be launching its public betas of two of its other most popular software products -- Microsoft Office and Sharepoint Server -- in November.

Office 2010 has already been discussed in great detail.  Among the most interesting of the new features is the ability to create custom ribbons, packed with you most commonly used items.  Also significant is that Outlook has received a major overhaul, getting a ribbon and using email threads to organize emails.

Among the other important pieces of Office 2010-related news is that it will come preinstalled on many new computers, operating in a limited ad-supported form.  The software has gone DVD-free, relying exclusively on preinstalls and internet downloads.  Instead of DVD, customers will purchase a credit card-like activation card, in thin plastic wrapping, an approach Microsoft lauds as more environmentally friendly than traditional DVD packaging.

Sharepoint Server 2010 has been less widely discussed, but many are equally excited for it.  Sharepoint Server 2010 rolls together many collaborative products, along with web-content based tools.  The result is a platform useful for everything from blog or wiki creation to creating a shared corporate workspace.  The suite is tied into the free successor to Microsoft FrontPage, Microsoft Office Sharepoint Designer.  Microsoft is targeting both traditional and cloud computing setups with the software (as the software is a strong tool for common storage in a cloud).

Among the points Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer emphasized about Microsoft Sharepoint Server 2010 were its new customizable ribbon interface (similar to Office 2010), better web content management (it follows the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0), and rich media, including video, audio and Microsoft's Flash-competitor, Silverlight.  The software also features richer APIs and is tied into Visual Stuido 2010.

Mr. Ballmer cheered, "By taming the overflow of information across systems and technologies, SharePoint enables organizations to thrive.  SharePoint 2010 is the biggest and most important release of SharePoint to date. When paired with Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint 2010 will transform efficiency by connecting workers across a single collaboration platform for business."

In addition to Office 2010 and Sharepoint Server 2010 betas, Microsoft will also air betas of Visio 2010 and Project 2010.  The betas should become available here.

Microsoft is targeting the first half of 2010 for the release of both Office 2010 and Sharepoint Server 2010.  This would position the products to take advantage of both back-to-school/fall sales, and holiday sales (though this is less of a factor for the more business-like Sharepoint Server).

We will keep you updated as more details on the beta program arrive.

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