continues to heavily test
the next version of its business productivity suite and said the general
availability date will be later than originally expected
Instead of being on the shelves in the first quarter of 1999, the product
will be in customers' hands the next quarter, the company said.
Shying away from calling the second quarter release a delay, Microsoft
couched it as being a "more secure estimate" than what was provided before.
"Now we know that RTM [release to manufacturing] will be in the first quarter of
1999, with general availability in channels by the second quarter," said
Duncan said Beta 2 of the office suite is due to go out in the coming weeks,
which follows a widespread Beta 1 that went out to
As earlier reported, Office 2000 will inaugurate a new component strategy
and will, for the first time, include Microsoft's FrontPage Web authoring
tool in certain versions of the final product when it ships next year. It
will also include PhotoDraw 2000, the company's new business graphics
Expected to be priced around the same range of Office 97, or $499, the new
suite also features the first beta version of Outlook 2000, the latest
version of Microsoft's email client software. The new version features
enhancements like Office E-Mail, which allows users to compose messages
using any Office application and to send the message as HTML.
Microsoft will be offering five suite options when Office 2000 ships in
1999. Announced today, Office 2000 Premium offers corporate users and
software enthusiasts a high-end suite of Web tools, desktop applications,
document management software, and graphic design technology.
Microsoft has been trying to fix a "more secure estimate" since late summer when
executives said they expected to ship Office 2000 in the first quarter of
next year, months after analysts expected it to hit shelves.
Originally, both technology and Wall Street analysts had expected the
popular desktop application suite this fall. Some even targeted the release
of the Office upgrade as early as October. Analysts said the company
originally attempted to set the release of Office with Windows NT 5.
Duncan said the release plan is on target. "This is a quality driven
release. Everything is going according to schedule."