Before I write anything today, let me thank you for all of the kind birthday wishes on Thursday. The big day came and went and, surprisingly, I'm still standing.

I don't say this enough, but thank you for coming back and reading what I write week after week. Your readership and comments make writing worthwhile. It's funny to see my name crop up from time to time as "professional blogger" or "Office evangelist" because blogging for me is extra-curricular and not part of any of my official work objectives or commitments. I write from home, after normal working hours--so it wouldn't be worth it to me to spend my time writing unless there was someone out there reading. So: thank you, thank you, thank you.

Here's something cool I stumbled on last week: you can try out Office 2007 Beta 2 without downloading or installing it. Using your web browser and a small Citrix add-in, you can log onto a remote desktop running Office 2007 to poke around and play with it.

I didn't write about it last week because I was having problems getting it to work. I'm not sure if the servers were overloaded or if it was just a snafu getting it set up, but I tried Friday and again today and it seems to work now, so I thought I'd let you know.

A couple of things to note as you're playing around with the trial:

  • Several non-English editing languages are enabled. The most noticeable impact of this is that you'll see Japanese commands throughout the English product. In Word, for example, you'll see 4 additional commands in the Font group on the Home tab, 2 in the Paragraph group, and additional commands on many of the other tabs as well. This means that the scaling you'll see (which commands show up in what form at which resolutions) is not what you'd normally see in the English product.

  • You'll see a super-huge Business Contact Manager tab in PowerPoint at least (if not other apps as well.) This isn't the desired integration for Business Contact Manager, and doesn't reflect what you will see in the final product.

  • The fonts are strictly black-and-white and aren't in any way anti-aliased; this is an artifact of running the software over the network.

As you might expect, there are other issues inherent in running Windows software in a web browser; for instance, performance on more graphics-intensive features will be dependent on the speed of your network connection.

All those caveats aside, this is a great way to play around with Office 2007 Beta 2 if you don't have a spare machine on which to install it.