Paul Thurrott of the SuperSite for Windows has published an article that discusses the next version of Microsoft Office and what it might bring to end-users. There’s not a lot of detail in there but he does a good job of laying out the areas in which Microsoft is going to focus with this next release. He has some screenshots of prototype versions of the individual applications in the suite (I like the looks of the Outlook calendar screen). The expected time line for the release of Office 12:
Office 12 public disclosure: May 2005
Microsoft plans to begin unveiling the Office "wave 12 pillars" to key customers in May 2005, the earliest in an Office version’s lifetime that the company has ever done so.
Beta 1: October 2005
Beta 2: First half of 2006
Beta 3: Mid-2006
RTM: Late summer 2006
General availability (GA): October 2006