No sooner did the party invitations start landing in people’s mailboxes than the rumor mill cranked up a few gears and went into hyper drive.
According to the invites, which Microsoft started sending out yesterday, the September 30 event will be about Windows.
Speculation is rife already that what we might actually get is a technical preview of the long-awaited Windows 9, but that’s not all. There may also be news of a technical preview of Office.
In Boston, a Microsoft official at the SharePoint Technology Conference only confirmed there will be a September 30 announcement and declined to provide any details when asked by CMSWire.
Microsoft’s Rumor Mill
Microsoft is an old hand with the rumor mill and seems to really understand how it works. It sends out invites for an event, which include a tantalizing peek at what might be coming up, then shuts down tight as a clam. It neither denies nor confirms rumors after that.
The result is close to hysteria, not iPhone hysteria, but close.
Take the Office for iPad event a few months ago, when newly appointed CEO Satya Nadella appeared in public for the first time as the hand at the helm of the Microsoft.
Speculation around that one went on for weeks and Microsoft just "stayed stum." The result is that by the time the announcement was finally made, media hysteria in both the tech and the mainstream media ensured that just about everyone on the planet that has access to the media knew about Office for iPad.
This Is Different, Maybe
But this is different, you say. That time, it had been rumored for months that Steve Ballmer had been holding onto Office for iPad and wouldn’t release it for fear of damaging the desktop business.
Leaving aside the fact that the desktop business seemed pretty much doomed at that stage, it was clear that Microsoft was hanging onto something, probably Office for iPad, and numerous leaks from inside Microsoft had confirmed its existence.
This time around, though, no one seems to have actually seen Windows 9.
In fact, you could almost argue that when it comes to launching new products, leaks and Microsoft go together like ham and eggs - - you can have one without the other, but there's no fun in that.
The September 30 event is no exception. There’s no mystery about the fact that Microsoft has been working on Windows 9 and that it should be about ready for technical preview soon enough.
More Than Windows 9
However, it has also emerged this morning that this could well be more than Windows 9, although Windows 9 on its own would be pretty radical.
According to a source close to the action and cited in The Verge, Microsoft has been also distributing a technical preview of the new version of Office - - Office 16 - - and that partners and approved testers have already gotten their hands on it.
If this is the case and Microsoft is as close to releasing a new version of Office as a technical preview, then the upcoming event could well have more information about this, but its unlikely to be taking center stage.
The Verge has even published what it says are screen shots of the new version, which includes the "Tell Me" helper that has already appeared in the online apps and offers users a way of quickly searching documents.
Not Much New
From the screen shots that have “leaked,” there doesn’t appear to be much of a change to the Office ribbon, although it has introduced a new black theme that makes the interface look a tad different than we are used to.
It is also said to be improving its Outlook email client with sync options to just download one, three, seven, or 14 days of email, while image rotation is also expected to be added too, enabling users place images in documents easier.
In all, if indeed this is what is on the way, it looks like a fairly minor tweaking of the current versions of Office.
That in itself is interesting, though, in that it is in keeping with Microsoft’s promise last month that it will release updates to its products as they come off production line rather than waiting to do a major upgrade and announcement every year.
This is only Day One after the invites have gone out. There will, undoubtedly, be loads more rumors to savor between now and the actual announcement.
CMSWire Staff Writer Dom Nicastro contributed to the story.
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