With the recent flood of information surrounding Windows 7 and its official status of Beta 1, I thought I would take a moment to shed some light on some of Microsoft's current plans for the Office 14 Beta. As some of you know, Microsoft begins collaborating very early on in its development process with select customers via a program called TAP (Technology Adoption Program). The next tier of testing much later down the road is a program called a Technical Beta. A Technical Beta is much more far-reaching with testers than participants of a TAP, but even then, the number of people on a Technical Beta is drastically less than the third tier of testing; a Public Beta. Both Windows and Office have followed these testing tiers, though it's questionable as to if the recent Windows 7 Beta invites sent to select people are merely a formality or if they're truly an invite to a Technical Beta program to be distinguished from that which the public will be able to participate in. Regardless, here is a detailed breakdown of the tiers of customer interaction with Office 14:
TAP (Technology Adoption Program)There are two phases of the Office 14 TAP: PV (Product Validation) and RD (Rapid Deployment)
TAP - PV: Extending from Alpha builds through Beta 2 builds, TAP - PV customers interact directly with their very own Microsoftee(s) to "provide actionable feedback throughout the product development cycle and commit substantial resources for the duration of the program." To be eligible for this phase of the TAP, you are required to have a sponsored business solution/POC (proof of concept), architectural and deployment plans readily reviewable, and a pilot deployment at Beta 2 (based on POC status). Alternately, you can just hope you happen to work for and have access within a company who goes through this process and gets nominated. That, or you can write the script for "Ocean's 14" and make the payload that of builds galore. Your choice.
TAP - RD: Getting involved at the end of Beta 2/beginning of the RC (Release Client) phase, TAP - RD customers "drive marketing evidence for launch" via requirements of production employment at Escrow and participation in launch activities. TAP - RD is "ideal for companies looking to showcase their involvement in leading edge industry efforts [and] engage in joint public relations efforts with Microsoft."
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