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Office 2003 Sent to Manufacturers

Microsoft sent the core products in its Office System -- including all Office 2003 editions and the 2003 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Visio, FrontPage and Publisher -- to manufacturing Tuesday, noting the products will hit retail shelves on Oct. 21.

Microsoft also noted that Office Live Communications Server -- intended to provide secure, enterprise instant messaging and presence -- was among the products released to manufacturing Tuesday.

The firm also took the wraps off pricing for Office System components. Estimated retail pricing (ERP) for the Microsoft Office 2003 Editions is the same as it is for Office XP. The firm said Student and Teacher Edition 2003 will go for $149, Standard Edition 2003 for $399, and Professional Edition for $499.

The standalone applications prices are also unchanged, at $229 for Word 2003, Excel 2003, Access 2003 and PowerPoint 2003. Outlook 2003 comes in at $109 in the standalone version. Microsoft's newest application, InfoPath 2003, will retail for $199 in the standalone version, while the company's note-taking application, OneNote 2003, has an ERP of $199 with a $100 mail-in rebate for qualifying North American customers.

"From my perspective, it looks like a decrease," Joe Wilcox, lead Microsoft analyst for Jupiter Research (whose parent company also owns this publication), told internetnews.com. "Microsoft dropped its price on XP in May, and has kept those lower prices [with this new release]."

Wilcox explained that Windows 2000 was discounted before Windows XP was released, but XP was launched at pre-discount prices.

He also noted that some standalone products have seen price increases with this latest release. One example is FrontPage, which Microsoft is trying to reposition higher up the stack to corporate customers. While Microsoft has previously charged $149 for FrontPage, FrontPage 2003 has an ERP of $199.

"The release to manufacturers of the Microsoft Office System is a milestone, not only in terms of the unprecedented development and testing work that went into it, but also because it enables customers to piece together data and operational aspects of their business where the real work happens: at individuals' desktops," said Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of the Information Worker Group at Microsoft. "The value of software is measured in how you use it, and never before has it been so easy for businesses to derive such incredible value from their software investments."

Microsoft has divided the Office 2003 suite into six different editions: Professional Enterprise Edition, Professional Edition, Small Business Edition, Standard Edition, Basic Edition, and Student and Teacher Edition.

The Professional Enterprise Edition, available only through the Volume License and Academic Volume License programs, will be the most complete, featuring professional versions of Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, PowerPoint 2003, and Access 2003, as well as Publisher 2003, Business Contact Manager 2003, InfoPath 2003 and value-added solutions capabilities such as support for customer-defined XML schemas, Information Rights Management (IRM) content creation and authoring.

Office Professional 2003, available through retail, OEM and academic channels, will be identical to the enterprise edition, except for the lack of InfoPath.

Office Standard 2003, available in the retail channel as well as all volume licenses, will be stripped down to include Outlook 2003, Word 2003, Excel 2003 and PowerPoint 2003.

Small Business 2003 will be available through retail, OEMs and Open Volume License, and will feature Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, PowerPoint 2003, Publisher 2003, and Business Contact Manager 2003.

The Basic 2003 Edition will be available only through the OEM channel, and will feature Word 2003, Excel 2003, and Outlook 2003.

Finally, Student and Teacher 2003 Edition, available through the retail and academic channels, will include Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, and PowerPoint 2003.

In addition, the company will offer a number of the applications as stand-alones through the retail, OEM and Volume License channels. The applications will include professional versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access 2003, as well as InfoPath 2003, FrontPage 2003, and OneNote 2003. The company also said Outlook 2003 will be offered with Exchange Server 2003 customer access licenses (CALs).