July 09, 2012, 10:59 AM — Microsoft may announce the first public preview of Office 2013, the likely name for its next productivity suite,
at its annual gathering with partners later today.
Although Microsoft has not publicly revealed its plans for Office 2013 -- which has been codenamed "Office 15"
-- other than to say that a public beta would be rolled out "later this
summer," there are clues that the company will unveil a sneak peek today.
The opening keynote of Microsoft's
Worldwide Partners Conference (WPC), which begins at 9 a.m. ET in Toronto, will feature company CEO Steve Ballmer
and Kurt DelBene, the president of the Office division, according to the event's website.
More telling, Microsoft used the same conference three years ago to announce Office 2010.
Microsoft introduced Office 2010 on July 13, 2009, the opening day of that year's WPC, then followed up with
invitations for a pre-beta build, dubbed "Technical Preview," to select testers.
DelBene was the executive who later announced the first Office 2010 public
beta at Microsoft's Professional Developers Conference on Nov. 18, 2009.
Office 2013's timeline will be different, as Microsoft seeded developers and testers with a technical preview of
the new suite in January.
Most analysts and pundits expect Office 2013 to go on sale early next year, several months after the launch of
Windows 8 and its offspring, the tablet-oriented Windows RT.
Microsoft has not yet provided any information about Office 2013's price, on-sale date, or the number of
editions that will be sold or their contents. It's unlikely all those details will be divulged today if Microsoft
does issue a public preview: The company typically waits until much nearer to the release of a finished product
before announcing prices, for example.
If Microsoft follows the same development trajectory for Office 2013 as it did for Office 2010, which went on
sale June 5, 2010, it will ship the suite 28 weeks after it delivers a public beta. Assuming a beta appears today,
retail availability of Office 2013 would be during the week of January 21-25, 2013.