Office 2007 public beta

Tempting.

But no, I think I better pass. It appears that in order to run Office 2007, you have to uninstall Office 2003. I only have one PC, and that’s not an option. I think I read somewhere that Word 2007 files can’t be opened in or downsaved to  Word 2003. If that’s true, unless I can convince everyone I work with to upgrade (yeah, right) I’ll wait until there’s a release that has the promised backwards compatibility.

The whole “public beta” thing is such an overused joke. Companies have an obligation to fully test their software in most typical conditions. Beta is supposed to mean that all the features are set, you just have to have enough people kick the tires and give you feedback to eliminate as many unexpected glitches as you can.

Nowadays, private betas are in fact alpha tests with features barely in place. Public betas are the company’s way of saying, “Here, world, test this for us and we have absolutely no responsibility to you if it doesn’t work. Now, say ‘thank you’ to us for giving you this software early and free. We really don’t care what you think unless you love it, and then we’ll quote you in our ads.”

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2 thoughts on “Office 2007 public beta

  1. Rajiv says:

    That’s a pretty arogant post. Although I agree public betas have more problems than they should, especially at Beta 2, they do have value. Office 2007 Beta is feature complete, and is fairly ready for use. I have had almost no issues except with Outlook and it turns out my Outlook problem is occuring only in a small percentage of situations. The fact that it is being found in the public beta means the process is working; my problem will now be fixed in the final release. There is no way some of the problems would be discovered just in internal testing… there are too many possibilities when it comes to software. A lot of companies also use Betas to do early development and compatibility evaluations. People ask for Betas, and Microsoft has been good about giving them out…. its much better than their previous approach of releasing and then issuing 20+ updates in the week following. When there are major problems with a planned Beta release, they do delay it so it does not cause many users problems.

    Also another thing, although it is true the new Office 2007 format cannot be read natively by previous versions, they have not trashed backwards compatibility. You can save in Office 2003 format with Office 2007. In addition, they have already released a compatibility plugin so Office 2000 and later users can read the new Office 2007 format files. This is the most they can do when trying to introduce an entirely new XML based format to make it backwards compatible. Its a balance between innovation and legacy compat. Maybe open doc support would be nice, but thats another debate…

  2. Judi Sohn says:

    Sorry, Rajiv. I disagree. The term “beta” used to mean that the software was feature-complete, but needed some stress testing. I don’t think companies do a good enough job stressing the fact that beta doesn’t mean “a free early release.” It means that it could still be broken and the company will not be held responsible.

    If you can work under those conditions, a beta is a great thing. But if you have one computer with one copy of Office that you use for your daily work then I think you are being irresponsible if you jump on a public beta without knowing exactly what you are doing.

    I know that backward compatibility will catch up with Office 2007. It has to.

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