Applications

Microsoft adds Ultimate edition of Office

The new retail package will offer nearly all the Office 2007 components available to large businesses in one $679 product.

Ultimate is becoming a popular word in Redmond.

After already announcing plans for an Ultimate edition of Windows Vista, Microsoft confirmed this week that it also plans an Ultimate edition of Office 2007.

The new retail package, which was not part of the Office 2007 lineup announced back in February, will offer nearly all the components available to large businesses in one $679 product. A Microsoft representative said on Thursday that the new entrant in the lineup was "created as a result of customer feedback," but didn't offer more details on its origins.

Office Ultimate is similar to the enterprise edition that is available only to large businesses, and includes standards like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook, along with Publisher, the OneNote note-taking software, the Groove collaboration suite, Access database and InfoPath forms software. Microsoft did not announce pricing for the enterprise edition, since it is only available for volume licensing customers.

Microsoft has been looking to higher-end versions of both Windows and Office as a way to help grow its two core businesses, which already have dominant shares of their respective markets. CEO Steve Ballmer first noted that such products were on the way back at a financial analysts' meeting in July 2005.

With Vista, Microsoft is adding an Ultimate edition that pairs the best of its business and consumer features. The company is also planning a concerted effort to pitch the Home Premium version over the lower-end Home Basic edition.

The Ultimate Edition was mentioned in a slide in Chairman Bill Gates' keynote speech on Tuesday at the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference and noted by Windows enthusiast site Bink.nu.