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Originally published November 19, 2009 at 12:13 AM | Page modified November 19, 2009 at 9:24 AM

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Microsoft Office 2010 beta ready to download

If you want to try out Microsoft Office 2010, the beta is available for anyone to download, the company announced at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference.

Seattle Times technology reporter

LOS ANGELES — If you want to try out Microsoft Office 2010, the beta is available for anyone to download, the company announced at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference.

It also said Office Web Apps, Microsoft's online competitor to Google's Google Docs, will be available for anyone who downloads the 2010 beta.

Office Mobile 2010 is also available in beta, which you can get by going to the Marketplace for Mobile if you have a Windows phone.

An interesting new feature for Office is a Social Connector to Outlook that can pull in status updates from social networks. LinkedIn was the partner announced Wednesday at PDC. It will connect early next year. No word on Facebook or Twitter.

Also, for IT administrators, betas are available for Sharepoint Server 2010, Visio 2010, Project 2010. Office Web Apps on-premise is also available to beta test if a company wants to install it on its own servers.

The final version is supposed to be available in, not surprisingly, 2010.

"People may have historically thought of Office as a desktop or PC thing," said Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of marketing for Office. "With 2010, we are really focused on giving that productivity experience across the PC and browser."

Demo, details

about IE9

Windows President Steve Sinofsky, delivering a keynote Wednesday at the conference, gave some details on the development of the next version of Microsoft's Web browser, Internet Explorer 9.

He said the browser would be more interoperable and have improved performance from IE 8.

The development team has been working on the new browser three weeks.

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IE9 will support DirectX graphics technology and other standards, including CSS3 and HTML5.

Sinofsky briefly showed animations running in Internet Explorer 9 in his keynote. He also showed its ability to draw rounded borders and its sharper image display.

At least in the demo, the animations ran more smoothly compared with the "ka-chunk, ka-chunk, ka-chunk" of Internet Explorer 8, as Sinofsky described it.

"We intend to make sure Internet Explorer represents the very best browser for Windows and represents the most world-class browsing," Sinofsky said.

He said the development team has been focusing on improving the performance of the browser as measured by Acid3 tests.

Internet Explorer, which at one point dominated the market for browsers, has been steadily losing share, mostly to Mozilla's Firefox. Microsoft has a little less than 65 percent of the market and Mozilla has 24 percent.

Other competitors include Google Chrome, Apple Safari and Opera.

Silverlight 4

already in beta

Four months after releasing Silverlight 3, Microsoft said at the conference it is making Silverlight 4 available for beta testing.

Silverlight is multimedia user-experience software that competes with Adobe Flash. For instance, Silverlight is being used to stream the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games online, as well as the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.

New features include:

• The ability to create experiences in non-browser places, such as on the desktop.

• Webcam and microphone support.

• New animation features, including the ability to break a video screen into jigsaw-puzzle pieces.

• More manipulation of photos.

Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the .NET Developer Platform, demonstrated this by warping a photo of himself that he then posted to Twitter as his profile pic.

Sharon Pian Chan: 206-464-2958 or schan@seattletimes.com

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