Office 2007 to Go 'Gold' This Month

Microsoft is winding down the beta program for Office 2007 as it prepares for a release to manufacturing before the end of the month. On October 25, Microsoft will close its Office Preview site and stop allowing downloads of the beta.

The Beta 2 Technical Refresh, made available last month, will be the last build available to testers. As previously reported, Microsoft will not be issuing a third beta or release candidate of Office 2007, although the development team has continued to make tweaks to the product.

"Office 2007 products will be available in retail channels early next year," Microsoft wrote in an e-mail to testers. "The Beta2TR build is set to expire on March 15, 2007 for all client products and May 31, 2007 for all server products. This should allow you to use Beta2TR until you can upgrade to the retail version."

Beginning October 28, the support site for Office 2007 will be migrated to Microsoft's primary Web site. On October 30, the BetaPlace Web site and support newsgroups for the beta test will close. SharePoint team sites will be decommissioned on October 31, and all data will be destroyed.

"We are thrilled with the incredible excitement around the upcoming 2007 Microsoft Office system as is evident by over 3 million people installing the Beta 2 and later Beta2TR builds. With your help, we have far exceeded our technical participation goals," the company added.

However, Microsoft is not supplying beta testers with copies of Office 2007 final. The company notes the beta program was a volunteer effort for the mutual benefit of testing the new Office in "real world usage scenarios" such that improvements could benefit all users.

After being made available to businesses later this year, Office 2007 will likely arrive on store shelves alongside Windows Vista in early 2007. Standard Edition will run $399 USD, with Office 2007 Professional priced at $499 USD. A new "Ultimate" edition with every Office component will cost $679 USD.

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