Office 2007 Beta 2 Launches

I’m real sorry I couldn’t make it last week. But everything comes to he or she who waits. And this week I have a real doozy for you.

Office 2007 Beta 2 has just been released. And boy is it the greatest thing since sliced bread? The new user interface is so unbelievable. It is the first Microsoft product for the Windows platform with a true liquid interface. Microsoft Office for Mac did piggy-back on the AppleOS fantastic graphics. But its toolbar icons looked much like the ones in Office for Windows.

But Office 2007 Beta 2 has definitely raised the bar. Makes OpenOffice.org 2.x even more visually shoddy! Even though feature-wise OpenOffice.org 2.x has nearly the same features as Office 12. And even introduced an XML based OpenDocument format over 3 years ago. Problem is OpenOffice.org kept shooting itself in the foot. An each new version introduced a new default document (and template) format that didn’t work with older builds.

Not that Office 2007 is any better. The new Office document format uses XML. And is incompatible with older versions. You have to save in Office 97-2003 compatibility format. Which is annoying when a company has a mixture of early-adopter geeks and stodgy stay-at-homes who cling tenaciously to whatever they are comfortable using. But if you are among those who like to blaze new paths (do pardon the cliches). Don’t fret. Microsoft has worked it out. And have released a Compatibility Pack to assist the transition from Microsoft Office XP/2003 to the new Office Open XML Formats.

To get a copy of the new Office 12 system, you need a valid Windows Live (formerly Passport) ID. This includes MSN and Hotmail user IDs. Register to download the files. The registration process requires you take a short survey (because since when was anything really free on the Internet?) before you can choose which applications to download. At the end you see a page with links to selected applications and the serial numbers. Office 2007 Beta 2 is valid until February 1, 2007. But the software needs to be activated before you can use it.

You can choose to download the following programs:

  • Office Professional Plus 2007 (435-550 MB) (Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, InfoPath & Publisher)
  • Office Groove 2007 (300 MB)
  • Office SharePoint Designer 2007 (305 MB)
  • Office OneNote 2007 (280 MB)
  • Office Outlook 2007 with Business Contact Manager (380 MB)
  • Office Project 2007 (285 MB)
  • Office Visio 2007 (330 MB)
  • Office Groove Server 2007 (300 MB)
  • Office SharePoint Server 2007 (1 GB)
  • Office Project Server 2007 (300 MB)
  • Windows SharePoint Services (75 MB)

Groove is a new collaboration tool that allows teams to work together dynamically and effectively. SharePoint Designer is the new FrontPage and seems to have been developed almost exclusively to improve developing SharePoint sites. Don’t take my word for it. Read all about the Microsoft Office 2007 Programs.

Do make sure before you begin that your Net connect runs at 128 kbps or better throughput with a medium-to-high bandwidth limit (if any). Because the individual files are large. Office 12 Beta 2 Plus version clocks in at 440 MB. If you don’t think you are up to that, there is also a Receive Beta By Mail option.

Office 2007 Picture Manager offers lossless zoomSetup is quite simple, run the application to install, and it will prompt you for the serial number. Then depending on your previous Microsoft Office setup, you get an option to Upgrade or Customize. Rather stupidly I chose the former. Then had to go in an modify my settings to remove extras like InfoPath, Access and Publisher that I have no need for. As well as some other add-ins. Once the new Suite has been successfully setup. You need to open any one of its components to activate the product. That’s all there is to using the most happening Office suite ever. As for the actual experience, you’ll need to wait until I have used Office 2007 for a while. Maybe the next time if you are lucky. Meanwhile here more on the new Microsoft Office User Interface.

Also new this week is Opera 9 Beta 2 (Build 8432). The Betanews.com render problem was resolved in last week’s Beta Build 8414. This one includes several IMAP fixes for the M2 mail and new client. Cookie fixes including where cookie settings will override general display preferences. And a fix that stops cookies from crashing the browser. XHTML mobile profile rendering has been fixed too (see http://www.google.com/xhtml/). As well as several content blocker fixes. And the ability to define a temporary download directory used for opening files in external applications in opera:config. For the Unix version, operapluginwrapper detects plug-ins. Multiple concurrent login dialogs no longer crash the browser. And Java no longer grabs all keyboard input. However some user report that certain access keys don’t work. Or crash the browser.

Opera 9 Beta 2 (Build 8432) is available in separate version for Windows (Windows Installer & Classic), MacOS and Unix.

And as we went to press (virtually speaking of course) comes the release of Firefox 2 Bon Echo Alpha 3. Available for Windows (5.3 MB), Mac (17 MB) and Linux (8.8 MB). This introduces new anti-phishing protection. And support for client-side session and persistent storage. There’s also an updated Portable Firefox Bon Echo Alpha 2.

That’s it for this week. Stay Safe. And we’ll meet again soon.

That’s it for this week. Stay Safe. And we’ll meet again soon.

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