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Microsoft delays consumer release of Office

Microsoft said Friday that the update to its Office business software suite also won’t appear in stores until January.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Three days after saying it will delay the consumer version of its new Windows Vista operating system, Microsoft Corp. said Friday that the update to its Office business software suite also won’t appear in stores until January.

The new version of Office, the popular suite that includes a word processor, Excel spreadsheet and Outlook e-mail software, had been expected to be widely released by the end of this year.

In a statement, the Redmond software company said Office 2007 will be completed in October as planned and will be available at that time to large customers that buy software licenses in bulk. But it will not hit retail shelves until January, to coincide with Windows Vista’s retail debut. ( is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

Malina Johnson, a spokeswoman with Microsoft’s public relations firm Waggener Edstrom, said in an e-mail that the decision to delay the release of the retail version is “simply an indication of our desire to provide an easy retail experience by coordinating delivery with Windows Vista.”

She said development of the product is on track.

Microsoft will release some versions of Windows Vista to businesses in November. But the company said Tuesday it would release the consumer version in January, after computer makers and others complained that setbacks in the new operating system were making it tough to prepare for a holiday sales push.

With Office 2007, Microsoft is touting simpler graphics and a feature that tries to anticipate the commands a user is most likely to need, based on whether the user appears to be typing a list, editing someone else’s work or performing some other job.

The version also will allow documents to be saved in the popular PDF file format, one of several efforts the company is making to broaden Office’s appeal.

Office 2007 will work with Windows XP, the version of the operating system that has been out since late 2001, as well as Vista.