Microsoft has pushed the next iteration of its Office productivity suite of software applications to what it calls its 'Technical Preview' programme stage.
At this point in the product's development a combination of customers, dedicated testing professionals and partners get to 'play with' the product and provide feedback to the MSDN developers who will ultimately take the product onward to 'release candidate' stage i.e. Microsoft's preferred term for final beta version with potential for final release.
Although Office 15 will have already gone through both Alpha and Beta (presumably quite "closed" Beta) versions to get to this stage, Microsoft still describes this as an "early point in our development cycle".
PJ Hough CVP of development, Microsoft Office Division writes on the Office blog, "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."
NB: that extra C in the job title there stands for "Corporate" not "Community".
"With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio. Quite simply, Office 15 will help people work, collaborate and communicate smarter and faster than ever before," he said.
The Technical Preview programme is already full, but an Office 15 public beta is promised later this summer.
Of note with this release of Office is the fact that it will likely adopt the "Metro" block styling user interface familiar to users of Windows Phone 7 devices and Xbox. Given Metro's logical progression towards the Windows 8 operating system, it should be no surprise to see its form and function reflected in Office 15 when it arrives.