Getting Your Hands on the Beta Version of Office

by David Chernicoff, david@windowsitpro.com

During the past few weeks I’ve received a lot of email about acquiring and using the beta version of the next generation of Microsoft Office. The inquiries seem to have reached critical mass, so I thought I’d provide answers.

Beta 2 of the Microsoft Office 2007 system is available to the general public. You can download it or request the DVD. The availability on DVD is necessary because the installation files for the entire system take close to 3.5GB of storage--a significant download even on a fast connection. The entire Beta 2 system includes the server and client products. If you want to evaluate only the basic Office components (i.e., Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2007), the download is 550MB. You can download additional Office components individually; for example, I’ve been using Visio 2007, which is a 330MB download. The downloads are delivered as ISO images, so you’ll need software to burn your installation CD-ROMs. The nonserver Office programs and basic Office suite downloads total more than 2GB, so ordering the DVD isn’t a bad idea.

You can acquire the beta at the following URL, where you can either download or order the DVD, as well as find collateral applications and materials necessary for a successful evaluation of the new Office suite: http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/getthebeta.mspx.

If you're considering IT deployment of Office 2007, you can find documentation and tools for doing so at this URL: http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/deploy.mspx.

Office 2007 incorporates new file formats for documents it creates, so you'll need a way to convert older file formats. The Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007 File Formats (Beta 2) lets Office XP and Office 2003 read and save files in the Office 2007 formats. You can find it at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/converter.mspx.

It’s important to note that this compatibility pack is a beta and works only with the current Office 2007 beta. When newer betas arrive, you'll need to update prior installations of the compatibility pack.

Although Microsoft claims that the Office 2007 Beta 2 is feature-complete, remember that the chances of it changing significantly before release are likely; thus, documents you create with the beta might become unusable. I can only reiterate what Microsoft states: Don't use this software for production work unless you are willing to lose that work at some future point. As always, Microsoft doesn't offer formal tech support for the beta, though Microsoft newsgroups do offer some.

Tip-- Restoring a Wireless Keyboard

After setting up the 64-bit version of Windows XP on my newest state-of-the-art testing computer, I lost the use of my wireless keyboard and mouse. This surprised me because I had successfully set up another 64-bit XP computer with a wireless console earlier and wasn't expecting problems with the process.

It turned out that the wireless mouse and keyboard I was using on the newer computer were connecting via Bluetooth, and I needed to install a different set of Intellipoint drivers than those that worked under 32-bit XP. The 64-bit IntelliPoint 5.5 mouse driver has been available since January at the following URL: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=d7e1d03b-3fbd-44f3-a7bf-e84df41a6932&DisplayLang=en.

The IntelliType 5.5 keyboard driver is available at this URL: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=18cb8e7f-ecd3-424d-870c-32288020f788&DisplayLang=en.