It has been less than two weeks since Microsoft officially released the first open beta release of its upcoming Office 2010 suite, and it is already been made known that the Redmond engineering team is hard at work on its next major development in the software platform.
The information comes from a recent post on the Microsoft Access Team Blog detailing the company’s plans and strategies for improving its Access and SQL Server applications. Greg Lindhorst, Software Manager at Microsoft, briefly notes that the application development team is already beginning to plan ‘Office 15’ and is considering improvement for SQL Server Support. “Note that we are very early in planning, and considering many possible areas of investment, I unfortunately can't commit to any actual improvements at this time,” quotes Lindhorst in the blog post addressed to MSDN partners. He continues by prompting the community to respond to a variety of posed questions relating to manageability and efficiency within Microsoft Access and SQL Server applications.
Several journalists have recently pointed out that Office 2003 was released on November 17, 2003, while Office 2007 arrived on January 30, 2007 and Office 2010 is scheduled to arrive in June 2010. It is not necessarily these dates that have any direct meaning within a speculative approach to guessing the 'Office 15' release timeframe. Rather, it is the information that lies secretly within the codenames for each development milestone. In retrospect, Office 2003 was codenamed ‘Office 11’ while 2007 was ‘Office 12’ and 2010 is codenamed ‘Office 14.’ It is immediately noticeable that an ‘Office 13’ release is missing, and the reason for this can be sourced directly to Microsoft from a statement made a few years back.
In December 2006, Eric Vigesaa, Program Manager for Office system client applications, stated during a TechNet radio chat, “13 is an unlucky [number], so we’re calling [the next release] Office 14.” Jensen Harris, Group Program Manager for Microsoft’s Office User Experience Team, further emphasized this claim by stating " is an unlucky number so we're going to skip Office 13 and call the next one Office 14.” (see: triskaidekaphobia). If the company is reluctant enough to completely disregard a whole number in a linear series, it is within our best guess to assume that there will be no ‘Office 15’ release in the year 2013.
This leaves us with two logically speculative possibilities. Microsoft could choose to release ‘Office 15’ within the same time frame as Windows 8 in late 2012, or it could choose to hold off the release until early 2014. We are inclined to believe the former as it agrees more closely with the “early development” claims made by the Access and SQL Server teams on MSDN. At the same time, it does not seem likely that Microsoft engineers are conjuring up improvement ideas some four years in advance, if the upcoming development milestone was to coincide with the latter possibility.
In perspective, it would be unwise for us to presume the upcoming ‘Office 15’ release to be dubbed Microsoft Office 2012, but the possibility is very likely and the argument is sound with the company’s Windows 8 release strategy. In the meantime, Office Professional 2010 and Office Professional Plus 2010 have already been downloaded over a million times in the past two and a half weeks. For those who haven’t experienced a free beta copy, we highly recommend doing so.