Outlook in Microsoft Office 15 features new calendars and more.  (Source:

Powerpoint looks to feature new templates for presentations, new effects, and new slide transitions.  (Source:
The future of office productivity software received a surprise preview on Monday.

Microsoft may not like that yet another one of its products leaked before entering the official testing process.  But it would be hard for the company to completely begrudge the positive attention that a Microsoft Office 15 preview build, leaked [translated article] by, is causing.

The sequel to Microsoft Office (MSO) 2010 ("Office 14"), Office 15 will likely aired sometime next year -- possibly in unison with the launch of Windows 8.  The new Office continues to build upon the Fluent User Interface (better known as the "Ribbon") -- a colorful GUI first introduced with MSO 2007.

The build of MSO 15 carried the build string 15.0.2703.1000 and was a 32-bit install.  It was obviously an early build -- while all the core components like Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word were functional, it crashed several times (as would be expected from an early build).

Overall the reviewer pinpointed a handful of new features, including new PowerPoint templates, effects, and transitions.  And the GUI overall has moved away from Aero themes and has been tweaked to bring it in line visually with Metro, the GUI found in Zune, Windows Phone 7, and Microsoft's new test homepage.

Outlook has been updated with new file sorting capabilities and new calendar layouts.

The most rough application at present appeared to be Excel, which struggled to even open.  The problems appear multifold, including problems with the built-in templates and with the partially complete .NET Framework 4 integration.  Excel was reportedly the only application in the distribution that didn't immediately run.  

The icons for the programs were identical to those found in Windows 14.

A video of the new software in action has been posted to YouTube (it's in Russian, but you can at least stare at the pretty screens). 

Microsoft Office was first released over twenty years ago in 1990.  It has since become one of the OS maker's biggest sources of revenue.  Today the productivity suite holds a market share of almost 95 percent, but it still faces challenges from competitors like the cloud-based Google Docs and the Java-based Open Office 3.  While these competitors typically offer far less features than Microsoft Office, they have the advantage of being free -- something that students and those on a budget particularly appreciate.

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