On Monday Microsoft said (opens in new tab) that it has kick-started the "Office 15" Technical Preview Program, an invite-only program that allows chosen participants to get a taste of Microsoft’s next-generation office suite before it goes into public beta later this year. Participants will be required to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
"These [technical preview] customers play a key role in our development process by testing early builds and providing feedback, which we incorporate into the final release," said PJ Hough, CVP of Development in Microsoft's Office Division. "At this early point in our development cycle, I'm not able to share too much about Office 15, but I can tell you Office 15 is the most ambitious undertaking yet for the Office Division."
Unfortunately for those wanting to get an early taste, the Technical Preview is already stocked full with test subjects. However Hough said that everyone will have the opportunity to try the Office 15 public beta later this summer. He didn't go into details, but promised to provide more info closer towards the beta's launch.
In July 2009, Microsoft began its Technical Preview program for Office 2010, followed with a public beta in mid-November. The final product was then released in April 2010. If Microsoft follows the same schedule, the public beta for Office 15 may actually launch in May or June, followed by a retail release towards the end of the year or early 2013.
With Office 15, Microsoft is updating everything at the same time including the company's cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio. Office 15 is merely a codename for now -- the suite will likely have a Microsoft Office 2012 or 2013 title, depending on its actual release.