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Microsoft Delays Office 2010 Web Apps Preview

With just a day left until September arrives, Microsoft confirmed Monday it will not hit an August deadline to begin the technical preview of its upcoming Office 2010 Web applications, but said the test releases are pending.

At its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in mid-July, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) began a technical preview of the PC-based Office 2010 suite involving tens of thousands of invitation-only participants.

At the time, company officials said that the Web-based versions, which will run in Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, and Mozilla Firefox browsers, would begin technical previews in August.

Now, Microsoft appears to be backpedaling a bit.

"At WPC, we said the Office Web applications technical preview would tentatively be available in the August timeframe. While they will not be available by the end of August, we are still planning to release them soon," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement e-mailed to InternetNews.com.

The Web applications are Microsoft's response to the growing popularity of Web-based applications such as Google Apps and Zoho, and are an integral part of the company's "software-plus-services" initiative. Microsoft has even acquired the domain name Office.com, ostensibly as part of its plan to host Office 2010 and Office Web.

Once finished and released, the Office Web applications will be free to some 400 million Windows Live members as well as to about 90 million Office annuity customers, and via Microsoft's own hosted Online Services.

"Office Web will be available to nearly a half a billion customers at launch," Takeshi Numoto, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, told InternetNews.com in July.

Microsoft first demonstrated the lightweight, Web-based versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote almost a year ago at the company's Professional Developers Conference in late October.

Office 2010 began alpha testing in mid-January.

Office 2010 is currently scheduled to begin beta testing by the end of the year, and to be released during the first half of 2010.