Microsoft Releases Office 2007 Refresh

As expected,

Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh, which weighs in at 495MB from the Redmond, Wash. company's Download Center, had been anticipated for weeks by testers. Users must have Beta 2 of the upcoming application suite already installed on their systems, said Microsoft, which is taking advantage of the situation to also test the Office 2007 patching technology and back end support.

Technical Refresh (TR) is the only version of Office 2007 that will run properly under Windows Vista Release Candidate 1 (RC1), the nearer-to-final test edition of the operating system Microsoft released to the public last week.

Although the TR is free of charge to Beta 2 users, "anyone not currently on Beta 2 will need to download Beta 2 before they are able to download the Technical Refresh," said a Microsoft spokesperson. "So those customers will have to pay $1.50 to download the beta first."

Microsoft slapped the download fee on Office 2007 Beta 2 early last month after more than 3 million had grabbed the preview. Then, it called the $1.50 charge "a cost recovery measure."

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The TR includes performance improvements, bug fixes, fit and finish enhancements, and according to Jensen Harris, a lead program manager on the Office team, more than 1,000 changes to the Office interface's newest graphical element, the Ribbon. "The UI [user interface] is now totally feature complete, and you will see only cosmetic differences between B2TR and the final version in most areas," Harris wrote Wednesday in a blog entry.

Microsoft has set prices for the new application suite, but has been coy about a launch date, saying only that it plans to put the program in corporate users' hands by the end of this year, and ship it to others in early 2007. Last month, began taking pre-orders for the product, and listed January 30, 2007 as the ship date.

Office 2007 Beta 2 Technical Refresh can be downloaded from this page on the Microsoft site.