Starting yesterday, Microsoft has started to let users try out the beta of Office 2007
. Rather than allowing users to download a large DVD image or a lengthy installer, Microsoft instead is demonstrating an online version, completely web-based and usable inside Internet Explorer. It works with Windows 98, 2000 and XP, according to the article, and does have some template documents included. Some features are disabled, such as saving and printing, so it's meant more to let people get a feel for the new software without letting them produce documents on it. Is this a sign of Microsoft moving to web-based applications and “software on demand”? Apparently, no:
Although the online test drive -- the applications run within a browser and off Microsoft's servers -- may make some wonder if the effort is also a sly way to experiment with delivering Office as a Web application or service, a Microsoft spokesperson rejected the idea. "No. This new online test drive is designed to help people to explore the benefits and enhancements of the 2007 release through their own Web browser without having to download or install the beta 2," she said.
It's somewhat thin-client based, so the installation of a Citrix plugin is required to use the demo. If you use Office and want to see what lies ahead, it's free and probably can't hurt to give it a try. To get setup you visit Microsoft's site