Microsoft delays Office launch

Users eager to update to Microsoft Corp.’s Office 2003 suite will have to wait a little bit longer – the company announced last week that the release date has been pushed back.

Initially slated for delivery to the market in the second quarter, the company cited feedback from beta testers as the instigator for the delay and will be issuing a refresh of Office 2003 beta 2 as a download to its beta testers for further code-scrubbing and fine-tuning. Scott Jackson, product manager, Microsoft Office, at Microsoft Canada in Mississauga, Ont. said the company is still aiming for a summertime release.

Microsoft released 600,000 beta 2 versions of Office 2003 back in March 2003 with about 30,000 of those in Canada. The first beta version went out last October to a few thousand testers, mostly in Microsoft.

“It’s one of the largest beta program we’ve ever endeavoured upon,” Jackson said. “It turns out we just got an absolute ton of feedback on the products…and so really what we’re doing is making sure we’re getting a chance to take a close look at the this feedback and…ultimately release a product that is high quality.”

In the past Microsoft had not received such a deluge of feedback, but Jackson explained that some of the more sophisticated automatic reporting tools used to ferry error reports back to Microsoft hadn’t been available.

Microsoft Office 2003 is the latest iteration of this software suite since Office XP, and features added support for extensible markup language (XML) and greater collaboration abilities. It will ship in and six separate editions tailored for different needs – Professional Enterprise, Professional, Standard, Small Business, Basic, and Student and Teacher.

In addition, each application that makes up these suites will also be available for purchase separately.

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– With files from the IDG News Service