Microsoft says Office business software will be delayed

Microsoft Corp. on Thursday postponed the release of its next-generation Office business software suite, citing "product performance" issues.

In a statement released by the company's Waggener Edstrom public relations firm, Microsoft said it now plans to release the product to big business customers by the end of the year, instead of in October as planned.

Consumers and other business users are now scheduled to get the product in early 2007. Microsoft had previously said it would be broadly available in January, to coincide with the delayed release of Microsoft's Windows Vista computer operating system.

"Feedback on quality and performance will ultimately determine the exact dates," the company said in the statement.

Microsoft has made early versions, or betas, of Office 2007 available for technical experts to download and test. In the statement, Redmond-based Microsoft said the delay was due to "internal testing and the beta 2 feedback around product performance."

The company declined to comment further, reports AP.

Office was delayed once earlier this year when Microsoft announced its other flagship product, the Windows Vista operating system, would also come out later than expected. The company said it is delaying the release of Office, which includes its word processing, email, spreadsheet and presentation programs, after users of test versions provided feedback on performance.

Office 2007 is now scheduled to be broadly available for consumers in early 2007, though exact dates haven't been released, informs Seattle Times.

According to Digital World Tokyo, an online test version of Office could spur rumors that Microsoft will eventually offer the software online as a web-based service. Microsoft already offers a service called Office Live that offers website hosting, document-management and business-management tools, but it does not offer worker productivity applications the way the packaged software version of Office does.

However, competitor Google offers a free, web-based word-processing application called Writely, a move that some think Microsoft may counter in the future with a web-based version of Office.

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