According to the Redmond company, the Beta testing program for Office 2010 Service Pack 1 (SP1) is planned for debut by the end of 2010.

Invitations have already been sent out to a select pool of Beta testers that are close to the software giant.

Early adopters are invited to participate in a very exclusive testing program for Office 2010 SP1 Beta but also for SharePoint 2010 Beta.

“We are contacting you about an opportunity to participate in an upcoming Beta testing program. You may be a previous tester of Microsoft products, or someone who has been nominated,” reads the email sent by the Microsoft Office Customer Programs Team.

“Beta programs are unique ways to experience product updates and provide feedback to the development teams. More »

As is the case with the Windows operating system, Microsoft is working extensively to make sure customers around the world benefit from using Office 2010 in their native language.

In this sense, just as for Windows 7, the Redmond company offers a number of localized versions of the latest productivity suite.

However, with Office 2010 available only in 38 languages, it is clear that some users might feel like they have been left out.

This is why the software giant is also offering what it refers to as Language Interface Packs or LIPs.

At the end of the past week, the first three out of a total of more than 60 LIPs have already started being offered to customers. More »

Microsoft has released a new version of the Office Migration Planning Manager (OMPM) to go along with the latest major iteration of Office, which hit store shelves earlier this year. Microsoft Office Migration Planning Manager 2010 is now up for grabs via the Microsoft Download Center, a resource designed to streamline the transition to Office 2010. According to the Redmond company, the Office Migration Planning Manager 2010 will help IT professionals plan and test for the migration to the successor of Office 2008. The collection of tools is offered by Microsoft free of charge.

“OMPM helps IT Pros discover and assess the compatibility of existing Office documents for conversion from the binary document formats (Office 97-2003: .doc, .xls, etc.) to OpenXML formats (Office 2007 and beyond: .docx, .xlsx, etc.). Additionally, OMPM 2010 adds features that assess macro compatibility with Office 2010 and 64-bit Office compatibility. The toolkit also contains the Office File Converter (OFC), which enables bulk document conversions from binary to OpenXML formats,” revealed Jill Maguire, from the Office team. More »

After it released a resource designed to help customers of the latest iteration of its productivity suite get familiarized with Word, Microsoft is releasing a similar guide for Excel. Microsoft Excel 2010: Interactive menu to ribbon guide is now available for download free of charge. The guide is designed to help long time users of Office, but which have not tried any new versions of the product since Office 2003, to find their way around the latest version of the product.

With the introduction of Office 2007, Microsoft completely overhauled the graphical user interface, moving away from the traditional Menu style. In Office 2010, the Redmond company perfected the new look and feel associated with the Ribbon/Fluent GUI. However, users that did not make the jump to Office 2007, with find just as big of a gap in terms of the evolution of the UI when it comes down to Office 2010. More »

According to Microsoft, there are no less than two main categories of functionality when it comes down to integration with the next version of the Office System. Instant messaging (IM) applications can hook into Office 2010 only at a basic level, or go deeper and deliver presence integration. Microsoft has made available for download a document which outlines “Presence Integration between IM Applications and Microsoft Office 2010.” The resource is offered for free via the Microsoft Download Center, along with another document titled: Office Communicator 2007: Presence Integration Between IM Applications and 2007 Microsoft Office System.

“With basic IM and Presence integration, a third party can use IM applications to leverage Presence and integrate IM functionality in Office applications within the following: Outlook 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Word 2010, Microsoft Excel 2010 and Microsoft Powerpoint 2010,” the company explained.

Of course, at the same time, third-party developers can go deeper than just basic IM and Presence Integration. In this regard, instant messaging applications can integrate with Office 2010 components for search, contacts and even conferencing features. More »