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Office 2010 to enter public beta next month

Microsoft is making the announcement at a SharePoint conference on Monday, where it will also announce what it has in store for the next version of its portal software.

Microsoft on Monday is announcing that it will release in November a public test version of Office 2010.

The software maker released a limited technology preview of the software in July and plans to release the final version next year. It also started testing of the browser-based "Office Web Apps" in September.

Microsoft, which is making the announcement at its SharePoint conference, is also detailing some of the features of the next version of its portal software, which will also enter beta next month.

The new version, SharePoint 2010, includes Office's Ribbon user interface as well as enhanced support for video, audio and Silverlight. Programmers will also be able develop Sharepointl sites using the next version of the company's Visual Studio, which is going into a second beta this week.

SharePoint is an important product for Microsoft as it is one of the company's fastest growing large businesses. Last year it brought in more than $1.3 billion in revenue, up 20 percent from the prior year.

"SharePoint 2010 is the biggest and most important release of SharePoint to date," CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement. "When paired with Microsoft Office 2010, SharePoint 2010 will transform efficiency by connecting workers across a single collaboration platform for business."