Microsoft Gears Up for Office 11 Beta 2

With the second beta release of Office 11 on the horizon, Microsoft has begun to make final preparations in anticipation of the beta's widespread availability. Beta 2 kits will be offered for purchase through a customer preview program, as well as being sent to testers and Redmond partners.

This week Microsoft announced it had given the name "InfoPath" to the new Office application formerly code-named Xdocs. InfoPath is a word processor like Microsoft Word, but uses XML-based forms to streamline data collection within documents. Although it is not clear how Microsoft will ship the final product, InfoPath will be included with Beta 2.

Sources say Microsoft has tentatively settled on "Office 2003" as the new suite's official product name, returning to a year moniker. Company officials concede the name is in consideration but claim nothing has formally been decided.

In addition to InfoPath, OneNote will join Office 11 for Beta 2, testers were assured late last month. Microsoft's OneNote enables Office users to jot quick notes and store them in a tabbed interface for easy access and organization.

Microsoft has not yet announced a specific ship date for Office 11 Beta 2, but testers tell BetaNews that Beta 2 code will be completed in the next two weeks for a release by early March. Non-testers can sign up to be informed when Beta 2 kits become available for purchase.

Release candidates will follow Beta 2 before Office 11 goes gold. Microsoft continues to target a mid-year release date for the next generation Office.

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