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Microsoft puts Office preview online

People can try out the upcoming software without installing a beta or replacing the version they already have.

Microsoft is trying to allow people to try out the next Office--without the hassle of installing beta software or replacing their current version.

The software maker late Monday released a free, Web-based test version of the new Office.

Microsoft said more than 2.5 million people have downloaded the Beta 2 version of Office 2007 since it was released last month.

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Video: Microsoft Office 2007 beta 2
Changes in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook

"The online test drive offers the perfect opportunity for everyone to experience an easier and better way to work," Microsoft said.

The new Office is a considerable departure from the current edition of the productivity suite, sporting a radically redesigned user interface as well as new XML-based file formats.

Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes said in an interview Friday that Office 2007 remains on track to be shipped to large corporate customers this year. Microsoft has said it plans the mainstream launch of Office 2007 and Windows Vista for January, though there is considerable speculation that further delays of Vista could push that launch to later next year.