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Office 2010 beta goes public

The test version is being released in conjunction with Microsoft's Professional Developer Conference in Los Angeles. New features include a mechanism for connecting Outlook to social networks.

LOS ANGELES--Microsoft announced on Wednesday that the beta of Office 2010 is now publicly available from the company's Web site and from CNET

Among the features new to the beta is a social networking connector that allows users to bring in Windows Live and other social networking feeds into Outlook. LinkedIn is the first that will take advantage of it--early next year--but there is a software development kit for others to do so.

"I hope that you will all download it," Microsoft senior vice president Kurt DelBene said at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference here.

Microsoft has posted an article noting that Office Mobile 2010 is also in beta and available for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones via the Windows Mobile Marketplace.

The public beta also includes the ability for businesses to start testing the browser-based Office Web Apps within their enterprises. The beta versions, unlike the technology preview of the Web Apps includes editing in Word as well as the OneNote Web app.

The consumer version of the Web apps, however, remains in technology preview in Windows Live. There's no specific timeframe for when the Office Web Apps will hit Windows Live.

Office 2010 is due out in final form in the first half of next year.

The company is talking more about Office 2010 as part of the Professional Developers Conference keynote that is still taking place. Click here for CNET's live blog of that talk.