Office 10 Preview Released

A technical beta of the next version of Microsoft Corp.'s Office productivity suite has been released to testers, a representative of the Redmond, Wash. software giant said Tuesday.

The offering, referred to as Office 10, has been released to "a small subset of Office customers," the representative said. Microsoft has not set a release date for Office 10, other than to say it should be available in 2001.

According to Microsoft officials, Office 10 will serve as a stepping stone to Office.Net, which will introduce the suite to the world of application hosting and "software as a service" arena of the company's .NET initiative.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft previewed Office 10 for a group of financial analysts two weeks ago, demonstrating new features such as integrated instant messaging software, new search features, print preview capabilities in PowerPoint, and enhanced word-count and cut-and-paste features.

Other new features include technology for recovering work in the event of a system crash and "smart tags," which lets users click on a word or name within a document to send e-mail, schedule a meeting, or find an address.

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