As many as 10,000 users and software providers will be receiving the technical beta release of the next version of Microsoft’s Office system, code-named Office “12.”
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The next release of Office will introduce the XML file format for saving documents and provide new graphics and diagramming engines, together with task and information management tools. Other features include collaboration and enterprise content management tools along with a business intelligence add-on in the next release of Excel.
The company is also providing native support for Adobe’s PDF file format and a print-ready document format called XPS.
Microsoft will allow users of its forthcoming Office 12 collaboration suite to save documents in its own XPS electronic document format. A “save as” button will be added to the software to allow users to save files in the XPS (XML Paper Specification) format, a potential rival to Adobe’s portable document format (PDF).
Microsoft has promised that Office 12 will be compatible with previous versions of Office, but documents saved in the new XML file format will not be able to run macros or Office applications developed using VBA. Office 12 is due to be released in the second half of 2006.