Microsoft: Office 2007 to be late, too

Following its delay of Windows Vista, Microsoft confims that Office 2007 release will also move to next year.

Fresh on the heels of a delay in broad availability of Windows Vista, Microsoft confirmed late Thursday that it is also pushing the mainstream launch of Office 2007 to next year.

As with Vista, Microsoft hopes to finish the code for Office 2007 this year. The company said work will be completed by October, when it will make Office 2007 available to business customers that have signed up for Microsoft's volume-licensing program.

And, again like Vista, Microsoft plans to ship retail and original equipment manufacturer versions of the product in January.

"We believe this will provide an easier experience for consumers and retailers alike," a Microsoft representative said in an e-mail to CNET

Microsoft announced the Vista delay Tuesday. With the twin postponements, the PC industry's holiday season is shaping up to be quite different than the one originally expected. Microsoft has said it doesn't expect the Vista delay to dent PC sales in the fourth quarter, but analysts have largely disagreed.

Microsoft is making major changes to Office, which will feature all-new XML-based file formats, as well as a completely overhauled user interface, among other changes.

By pushing out the Office launch date, however, Microsoft will regain the ability to launch the two products in tandem. Microsoft had been planning a massive fourth-quarter launch for the products.

Earlier on Thursday, Microsoft announced that it would make Office head honcho Steven Sinofsky the leader of a new Windows and Windows Live development group. Microsoft said Sinofsky will work with Microsoft Business Division President Jeff Raikes in the coming weeks to help determine who will lead the Office business after his move.

The change in launch timing for Office 2007 was noted earlier Thursday by JupiterResearch analyst Joe Wilcox on his Microsoft Monitor blog.

Microsoft in November had released an initial test version of Office 2007, then known by its Office 12 code name. A broader test version is planned for this spring.

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