Today at the Office Developer Conference in Redmond, Bill Gates announced the immediate availability of a Community Technology Preview of Visual Studio Tools for Office 'v3'.  This CTP release works against the Beta 1 Technical Refresh of Microsoft Office 2007.  If you don't have access to the Beta 1 Technical Refresh of Microsoft Office 2007, don't despair--there will be another release of the CTP coming later this spring that will work against Office 2007 Beta 2 which will be more widely available.

If you want to read a tutorial that talks about the VSTO 'v3' CTP, follow this link.  Kathleen McGrath has also blogged with a video link showing the CTP in action.

The CTP is available for download here and it installs on top of an existing Visual Studio 2005 installation.  Here's some more info:

This is the March 2006 Community Technology Preview of Microsoft Visual Studio Tools for Office "v3", planned for the next version of Microsoft Visual Studio ("Orcas").

Note: This CTP requires you to have the Beta 1 Technical Refresh of Microsoft Office 2007. Only customers currently registered with the Microsoft Office 2007 Beta 1 program (including the Office Developer Conference 2006 attendees) are able to install this CTP. If you are not one of them, there will be another release of this CTP coming later this spring that will be available for installation by the general public.

The primary goal of this CTP is to give Microsoft Office 2007 beta 1 technical refresh developers an early glimpse at some of the key new features and feature directions in the area of Office programmability. The upcoming release of Microsoft Office 2007 introduces a number of new technologies intended to further establish Microsoft Office as a powerful and flexible solution development platform.

The next version of Visual Studio Tools for Office is designed to help developers take better advantage of those new capabilities in Office 2007, as well as to provide additional infrastructure to ensure .NET solutions in Office run more reliably, efficiently and securely.

The highlights of this CTP include:

  • Support for the new Office Open XML file formats in Microsoft Office 2007
  • Support for the new UI ( “ribbon”) extensibility model in Microsoft Office 2007
  • Add-In projects for Microsoft Access 2007, Microsoft Excel 2007, Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2007, Microsoft InfoPath 2007, Microsoft Outlook 2007, Microsoft PowerPoint 2007, Microsoft Project 2007, Microsoft Publisher 2007, Microsoft Visio 2007, and Microsoft Word 2007
  • Support for the new application-level customizable taskpane
Before you install:

As with any pre-release software, you should not install the Visual Studio Tools for Office “v3” CTP on a production machine. Uninstalling this CTP might not bring your computer back to its original state. Hence, it is strongly recommended that you either set up a separate computer for this purpose, or create a backup image of your computer, before installing any of the software referenced here. Alternatively, use a Virtual PC.

Eventually, the next version of Visual Studio Tools for Office will be an independent product, much like the previous versions. Currently however, this CTP is available only as an update to Microsoft Visual Studio 2005. Therefore, in order to install this CTP, you will also need a spare licensed copy of either
Visual Studio 2005 Tools for the Microsoft Office System or Visual Studio 2005 Team System. If you do not have one, then you may download and install Visual Studio 2005 Team Suite 180-Day Trial at no cost from: http://msdn.microsoft.com/trial/.

You will also need to install
Microsoft WinFX Runtime Components - February Community Technology Preview (CTP).

This Visual Studio Tools for Office "v3" CTP is available in English only.