Essentially the Office 2010 Beta is a ‘nearly finished’ version of the newest version of Office – Office 2010 – which will be released for sale later this year. Microsoft often release Beta versions of their products to the public or to selected groups of IT professionals. Getting a Beta product out to a broad, real-life audience means Microsoft can get invaluable feedback from users to make sure the final product is as good as it can possibly be. It’s also a great chance to let our most enthusiastic Office users try out the latest features!

If you are keen to try out the latest version of Office but are still not quite sure what the Beta entails, I’ve outlined a few of the most common questions I’m asked below. For even more information, take a look at the Office 2010 Beta FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), which has a comprehensive set of answers to any question you may have – or perhaps never knew you had - about the Beta :).

Do I need to uninstall my current version of Office to run the 2010 Beta?

The good news is that if you choose to use the Office Home and Business 2010 Beta or the Office Professional 2010 Beta it will happily run alongside your existing copy of Office. Install the Beta, and when you open your program menu you will see your existing Office programs, as well as the Office 2010 Beta programs. You just choose whether you want to use the old version (eg Word 2003) or the Beta version (Word 2010 Beta) each time you open the programs from the menu.

The only exception to this is Microsoft Outlook, which isn’t happy running when a former version of the product exists.

Here’s the blurb from the FAQ:

‘Upon installation of your Office 2010 Beta, you may be offered the option to Upgrade or Customize. Clicking Upgrade results in only the newer Office 2010 Beta product remaining on your machine. By clicking Customize, you may explicitly select to have multiple versions of Office coexist with the exception of Outlook and SharePoint Workspace (formerly known as Microsoft Office Groove 2007). These applications cannot co-exist with previous versions and you will need to select one version of the program to have installed on your computer.

If you are not offered the option to Upgrade or Customize, the default behaviour will be for your Office 2010 Beta to co-exist with your previous Office product(s).’

When does the Beta version expire?

The Beta will stop working (or ‘timebomb’) in October 2010. After that time you can choose to download the trial version of the finished Office 2010 product, buy a copy of Office 2010, or continue using your old Office software.

Are there special system requirements for running Office 2010?

System requirements for Office 2010 are pretty much the same as for Office 2007, including the following:

  • Windows XP SP3, Windows Vista or Windows 7
  • You don't need to replace hardware that is capable of running Office 2007; it will support Office 2010 :).
  • Processor: 500 MHz or higher
  • Memory: 256 MB or higher
  • Hard Disk: 1.5 GB; a portion of the disk space will be freed after installation if the original download package is removed from the hard drive.

What’s next?