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Office 2010 preview program coming in July

The first to get a chance to play with the new Office will be those attending this week's TechEd event in Los Angeles.

Those attending Microsoft's TechEd event will not only get to hear about Office 2010, they will also be among the first to get to try it out.

Microsoft said Monday that it will launch an invitation-only Technical Preview Program of the new Office in July, and said that those at this week's Microsoft conference in Los Angeles will be among the first to get to kick the tires on the new version of Microsoft's flagship software.

Viewing for Word Image
Microsoft first talked about the browser-based abilities of Office 2010 (then code-named Office 14) at a developer conference last October. Click image for full gallery. Microsoft

Whereas Office 2007 introduced new file formats and a major overhaul of the user interface, Office 2010 is a more modest change to the desktop programs. However, in conjunction with the release, Microsoft is also releasing browser-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote, known as Office Web Applications. It will also be the first version of Office to come in a 64-bit version, as well as the traditional 32-bit variety.

Microsoft had previously said that a test version would come sometime in the third quarter. Microsoft said it will scale the test version to users beyond those at TechEd, but did not give a time frame.

The final version of Office 2010 is due out next year.

To run the desktop versions of Office 2010, Microsoft said that users will need either Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista, or Windows 7. Hardware that is capable of running Office 2007 should also support Office 2010, Microsoft said.

In addition to announcing the timing of the Office technical preview, Microsoft is also using the first day of the TechEd event to announce more details on the next versions of SQL Server and Windows Server and to confirm that it will release Windows 7 in time to be on PCs this holiday season.