Enterprise guinea pigs will soon be getting hold of the next big update to Microsoft's Office Suite, with the public promised beta access in the near future.


What Can Office Do Next?

Microsoft's Office blog has just announced that version 15 of the almighty productivity suite has hit tech preview status. That means that its time to start testing it in real world offices and enterprises to see how it gets on with live data, servers and users.

All of this goes on behind closed doors, so any problems can be fixed in private, but it means that Microsoft is confident the product is stable enough to be let loose. There are a batch of updates in this version, bringing collaboration, mobile and web together in one package. As the post states:

Learning Opportunities

"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."

Which just leaves the final question of what will the official title be? Office 2012, Office 2013, Office 24/7? We'll find out soon enough.

Bring the Beta

The public beta will be out this summer, and following in the wake of Windows 8, should have some neat Metro-style features to improve information sharing between users and collaboration between teams. Some screenshots were leaked last year, but little has been seen of it in public. I'd expect Microsoft's Skype to be embedded in there somewhere too, or at least easily accessible from the apps.

Anyone wanting to opt out of the MS Office upgrade cycle could look to the likes of LibreOffice, which escaped from the implosion of OpenOffice or the Web-based services like Google Docs or Zoho. With MS bringing Office to the iPad, expect this edition to follow suite at some point. For those looking to escape SharePoint, Huddle seems to be a popular option.