Apart from a few screenshots leaked early last year, not much was known about the next major release of Microsoft Office codenamed “Office 15”. However, as of yesterday, Microsoft has announced that "Office 15" has entered into Technical Preview, with the public beta slated for a summer release.

The technical preview is currently open only to a select few outside Microsoft under a non-disclosure agreement.  Last time around, prior to the launch of Office 2010, people had a chance to sign up for the technical preview. However, this time, Microsoft seems to have taken a less public approach for choosing potential candidates for the technical preview.

In any case, the technical preview means the suite should most-likely be feature complete and relatively stable to let end-users try it out. Details on what’s new are scarce right now, but it could be fair game to expect some Metro-esque updates to the UI, aligning the user experience with other products such as the Xbox Dashboard and Windows 8.

Microsoft is calling "Office 15" as one of the most ambitious undertakings for the Office division, promising a simultaneous update to all its Office products and services across all platforms for the first time ever.  

Either way, it should be interesting to see what new features and enhancements make their way into Office 15. Personally, I would like to see deeper integration with Microsoft’s cloud services such as Office 365 and Skydrive, allowing for easier sharing and collaboration.

Office 2010 brought to the table several new features such as the controversial Backstage View, a consistent Ribbon UI across the suite, and lots of minor enhancements in every app. However, it was by no means a must have upgrade. I guess we’ll have to wait for the public beta to see if "Office 15" fits that bill.

Source: MS Office Blog

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  • piroroadkill - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Going to be all that great compared to 2010. Could be, but I'm betting on being a metro-style version of Office, for Windows 8, and then basically Office 2010 style for Windows 7, maybe with a few metro-ish looking UI elements.

    Seriously, the feature set of 2010 is already ridiculous..
  • retrospooty - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    LOL. ya, I cant think of a thing I use that cant be done in Office 2003.

    Not knocking the app, its great. Its just that it was great a decade ago.
  • apinkel - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    The excel 65536 row limitation alone made office 2007 a must have upgrade. I also much prefer the ribbon UI to digging thru ump-teen million sub menus. I can actually find stuff now. 2007 was a must have for me... I can take or leave 2010.

    And, cloud integration is the big one for me. But since I'm currently a dropbox user, an android user as well as a windows user I really wonder if MS is going to come up with a solution that is flexible enough for me.
  • Akrovah - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Exactly. I work in the HR department of a 70,000+ employee organization. Out roster alone was too much for Excel 2003, not counting reports of leave accruals, payments made, etc.

    And then on a more personnal level I was taking some physics courses at about the time Office 2007 was release, and these courses required embedding complex formulas into Word documents, and the improvements tot he formula editor alone in Word 2007 over 2003 sold me on that as well. Not to mention the ability to copy Excel graphs into a word document and still have the ability to modify them as if they were still in Excel (thanks to the xml coding behind them now) whereas in 2003 it basically just copied a picture of the graph.

    Oh yeah. Office 2007 was just Window dressing /eyeroll.
  • dawza - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    There are things 07 is far better suited for, and I really can't think of any downsides. The ribbon is superior once you get used to it, the xml base offers far more cross-application usability, and the enhancements to Excel alone are worth the upgrade. That said, I agree that for many users, these benefits my not be readily apparent. But dig in a bit and you may be pleasantly surprised.

    I wish we could do away with 2003 altogether so I wouldn't have to design spreadsheets in 03 to ensure backwards compatibility.
  • Murloc - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Equation editor is a whole new world in Office 2007 or superior.

    It's not an external plug-in, it's directly in the file.
    It supports formatting much better.
    You can use endless commands like \matrix(@@) or \sqrt (n&x) to write equations.

    I successfully keep up with the math teacher who's writing on the board with Word 2007.
    With my usage, from 2007 to 2010 I saw only a few useful tweaks but nothing revolutionary.
    From 2003 to 2007 it's a revolution and a huge increase in productivity.
  • Penti - Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - link

    They won't drop the Ribbon UI, the WinRT framework is a whole different runtime that they won't port to. Simple as that. Win 8 means continue to develop the Ribbon UI and other desktop APIs. Which of course means that there won't be any Office (built on Office/MSO at least) for ARM based Windows tablets.
  • Egglick - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Now, if they were to get rid of that stupid ribbon interface and only charge $15, it might be worth a second thought over OpenOffice. Still using '03 at work, and I'm gonna ride that out as long as I can.
  • evilspoons - Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - link

    Ribbon's here to stay, buddy... it's even in Windows 8's file explorer.

    Why? Oh yeah, because it's better. I got used to it in a month after Office 2007 hit and I've never looked back.
  • Tanclearas - Thursday, February 2, 2012 - link

    Nope. Not better. "Different" is not equal to "better". The ribbon is nothing but a giant menu bar/toolbar hybrid that also gives you access to the exact same dialog boxes from previous versions of Office.

    The amount of productivity that has been lost since the introduction of the ribbon is immeasurable. Take an interface that, while not ideal, had literally millions of experienced users and throw it out the window to accommodate a ridiculously small percentage of users who have never used Office before AND who have absolutely no access to support from someone familiar with Office. From there, start with a brand new interface that leaves that huge percentage of experienced users fumbling around searching for things they used to know how to find, and who are also now unable to provide assistance to the people who are using Office for the first time.

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