Office 2007 Beta Tech Refresh On The Cusp

This move puts the new Office software on track for general availability release early next year.



Redmond birdies chirp that the Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh (okay, breathe) will be distributed internally this weekperhaps even today. Then in a day or two it should make its way to outside testers.

That would put the new Office on track for general availability early next year (and perhaps even make it to volume licensees as planned before New Year's.) Of course, if there are problems, all bets are off.

According to etailer Amazon.com, the slated street date for Office 2007 and Vista is January 30.

Sources confirm that earlier builds do indeed allow users to nix--or at least collapse-- the much-ballyooed ribbon interface.

Office guy Jensen Harris wrote about this in his MSDN weblog earlier this summer although official spokespeeps at the time said there was nothing set in stone about this plan.

Harris subsequently went into damage control mode, explaining that this ability to "collapse" the ribbon had always been available. His bullet points are here but to summarize:

As long as the Ribbon has existed, it has included the ability to minimize it; in fact, this capability was present in the very first design review we ever had. If you have Beta 2, you can press CTRL+F1 or double-click the selected tab to see this for yourself.

In Beta 2 the minimize state isn't saved, and the Ribbon expands anytime you use a command with the mouse or keyboard.

We improved the minimize feature in the upcoming Beta 2 Technical Refresh by making the minimize state persistent; after you use a command, it returns to its minimized state.

The only issue here is that Microsoft execs have pretty much said all along that "the ribbon" will be the only interface option available. No wonder there's so much confusion here.

Get it? Got it? Good.

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