Microsoft has begun inviting selected testers to be part of a beta of a new, consumer-focused Office-family product, codenamed "Albany."
The beta invitation for Albany is cryptic, according to testers who received the invite and asked not to be named. Albany will be aimed at home PC users, not business customers, and will include both a software and a services component. The individuals who’ve been invited into the private, limited beta so far are those who’ve previously beta-tested Office releases.
I hear some folks who helped Microsoft test Windows Live OneCare all-in-one consumer security/backup service also got invites to the Albany beta.
Some testers with whom I’ve spoken are betting that Albany could be the next version of Microsoft Works, Microsoft’s low-end productivity suite. Works includes an address book, calendar, database, dictionary, PowerPoint Viewer, basic Word and templates.
Microsoft officials said last year that they planned to conduct pilots and beta tests of Microsoft Works 9 SE, an ad-funded, free version of Microsoft Works. Officials would not discuss when and whether the company also planned to release a complementary Microsoft-hosted version of Works — even though there have been many signs pointing to Microsoft doing such a release.
One tester suggested that Albany, instead, might be a new offering from Microsoft’s Office Authoring Services team. Office Authoring Services is in charge of the “authoring” applications that are part of Office — specifically, Word, OneNote (Microsoft’s note-taking app), InfoPath (its electronic forms offering) and Publisher.
Microsoft, Beta, Microsoft Project, Albany, Microsoft Office