Office 2007 delayed

Microsoft is delaying the release of its Office 2007 software, saying it will ship in 'early 2007.'

Office 2007 has hit another delay and will now probably ship a few months later than previously expected, Microsoft said Thursday.

Microsoft is delaying the product so engineers can better incorporate feedback from the 2.5 million Office 2007 beta testers, a spokeswoman with Microsoft's public relations agency said Thursday. "What they want to do is to... give themselves a bit more time to make the product as good as it can possibly be," she said.

For business customers, this means that Office is now expected by year's end, a few months later than the previously announced October target date. For consumers, the Office ship date is now "early 2007." Previously Microsoft had been aiming to deliver the consumer version in January.

Just three months ago, Microsoft announced that it was pushing back Office's ship date in order to release the software in tandem with its upcoming Vista operating system. This most recent slip raises questions about whether another Vista delay is imminent as well.

Last month Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said the consumer launch of Vista could slip past his company's January launch date.

Microsoft is readying two business editions of the productivity suite: Office Professional Plus and Office Enterprise. Consumer versions of the product include Office Home and Student 2007, Office Professional 2007, Office Small Business 2007, Office Standard 2007, and an Office Ultimate 2007 edition.

The latest Beta 2 version of Office 2007 was made available in May, a little earlier than expected.

Earlier this week, Microsoft released a Web-based version of Office that users could test within their Internet Explorer browsers. (http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/beta/testdrive.mspx)

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