Sunday, November 1, 2009

Give thanks for the Office 2010 beta. Mmmm. Good.


By Joe Dolittle

Are you one of those people who can't wait for the holidays? Do you run around the house, looking into closets and corners and under beds to see where the presents are hidden? If you're one of those people, this might be for you.

Are you one of those people who likes to live life on the edge of technology? Do you download every beta and pre-release you can get your hands on, just so you can have bragging rights to be the first on your block with something new? If you're one of those people, this might be for you.

Outlook 2010 is coming and Office is getting fat. Please download your beta, what do you think of that?

Bad Outlook poetry aside, we have some actual, real news for you. The public betas for Office 2010 (including Outlook 2010) and SharePoint 2010 are now available and you can download them.

We've talked on and off about new features, but the Office 2010 Engineering bloghas announced a new social networking capability for Outlook (does this worry you as much as it worries me?):

The New Outlook Social Connector brings your communications history, business and social networking feeds right into Outlook, helping you quickly keep track of conversations and stay up-to-date with co-workers, friends and family without switching programs or changing your routine. Today's beta supports SharePoint social networking and will support Windows Live when Office launches. The business networking site LinkedIn will be the first to provide a connector for the Outlook Social Connector early next year.

And just in case the changes in the ribbon bar and other Office 2007 user interface changes haven't freaked you out enough, Office 2010 is about ready to sport a new, newer look (oh, joy!):

The Microsoft Office brand will sport a new look next year, reflecting technology innovations in Office 2010. The re-design includes an updated Office logo, a new orange color palette for the Microsoft Office brand, and updated icons for Office 2010 applications that make it easier to quickly identify the Office products you work in.

We're actually very excited about Outlook 2010, due in May or June. But we are concerned whenever the UI changes (it's tough enough explaining how to use the software to our aging parents, but when the UI changes for each release, it's positively baffling to them). And while social networking is a big thing these days, Outlook needs to stick with its roots and not get all bloated with new gizmos.

In any case, look to the box below for the beta download details. Oh, and have a Happy Thanksgiving! Save some of that dark meat turkey for the boss.