Office 2007 Moves Into Position

Microsoft Office 2007 has gone golden.

The Redmond, Wash.-based software vendor  released its latest version of the world-beating desktop productivity suite to manufacturing today.

“We’ve crossed the development finish line,” noted Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division in a statement.

Raikes added that the new release includes the most significant improvements to the products in more than a decade.

“It’s rewarding to be able to send this release off to our customers and help them take the next big leap forward in productivity,” said Raikes.

But it remains to be seen whether customers will want to take that big leap forward with Microsoft.

It has often been said that Microsoft is its own biggest competitor, as it saw when it tried to lure business users to Windows XP.

“People like to put in a version of Office and keep it there as long as they can,” noted JupiterKagan analyst Joe Wilcox.

This may be why Microsoft has put a fresh coat of paint on its marketing site, Microsoft Office Online.

U.S. and Canadian customers will be able to download trial versions of Office 2007 from that site beginning December 1, 2006.

That offering will be extended to thirteen other markets soon thereafter.

A notable addition to Office 2007 is an SMS  link for Office Outlook 2007.

The new service allows Outlook 2007 users to send e-mail, contacts, appointments and tasks — all current Outlook functions — as SMS messages to mobile phones.

Wilcox also noted that Microsoft has a lot more at stake than simply Office.

“Office is an important step but Vista is really important,” he said.

Microsoft said it will release its new Vista operating system as well as release details of Exchange Server 2007 availability on November 30, 2006.

The company expects to make all three products generally available in early 2007.

Should this happen on time, it will punctuate a difficult year with a sigh of relief for Microsoft, which endured the negative publicity and potential earnings impact of having had to delay the release of Vista.

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