This morning, we announced that starting tomorrow (Thursday, Septemeber 14) you'll be able to download the Beta 2 Technical Refresh build of Office 2007 (build 4407.1005).
Note: There's a newer post now with the download link. You can keep reading, though, to see a list of what's new in the Technical Refresh user interface.
I'm travelling on the east coast this week (New York, Boston, D.C.) and I've been using this build extensively and can honestly say that it's been very stable for me. I'm used to running bleeding-edge builds at work, so it takes a trip like this to really notice how far along the quality is in this build vs. where it was in Beta 2 and earlier betas (or a random daily build.)
If you're running Windows Vista RC1, you'll be happy to know that B2TR works great on RC1 (unlike the much earlier Office Beta 2, which has some problems on Vista RC1.)
B2TR represents an iterative step forward for the UI design—a refinement and polishing of each component. The UI is now totally feature complete, and you will see only cosmetic differences between B2TR and the final version in most areas.
As I wrote in June, there are a number of changes in B2TR, ranging from minor tweaks to relatively significant improvements. In particular, we've made nearly 1000 individual improvements to the content in the Ribbon—everything from redesigning the Home tab of PowerPoint to subtle changes to scaling or labels to work better on small monitors. Most of these changes are, of course, very minor, but they add up to a new level of fit and finish in the overall user experience.
Some of the more significant improvements to the user interface in Beta 2 Technical Refresh:
- Improved support for the minimized Ribbon
- Visual redesign of the "Northwest" corner of the programs
- Double-click the Office Button to close the window
- Silver color scheme
- Redesign of the PowerPoint Home tab
- Improvements to default styles for all objects (pictures, tables, charts, SmartArt, headers, footers, etc.)
- Quick Customize Menu
- New product icons
- Usability improvements to the Office menu
- Send button in the form in Outlook
- Over 1000 changes (most minor) to the content of the Ribbon
I hope you'll give the new build a try and tell us what you think. A full list of new features and improvements to the entire product (not just the user interface) will be available along with the download tomorrow.
Thanks so much for your feedback which made these changes possible.