Microsoft is being tight-lipped about the feature set for the next version of Office.
According to MW, Microsoft has established an internal Office 12 ship calendar that pegs Office Beta 1 availability for August 29, 2005. Beta 2 is slated for December 5, 2005. The internal release-to-manufacturing target is May 22, 2006. And the target for "street" availability for the Office 12 System is July 17, 2006, the sources said.
The Office team is still contemplating whether to add other new Office servers to the mix in the Office 12 timeframe, partner sources said. If Microsoft does so, a Visio Server is a likely candidate. The new Excel and InfoPath servers are expected to operate similarly to Project Server 2003. Users are expected to the servers through a choice of the full desktop Excel and InfoPath products, or through a thin Web client that will allow users to access Excel and InfoPath data stored on a centralized server, according to partner sources.
There must have been a lot of pressure internally to ship Office 12 alongside Longhorn. And certainly, Office 2003 hasn't been the runaway success that Microsoft had wanted.
Paul writes: With its lucrative Office suite in decline, Microsoft is feeling the heat. Once accountable for about 50 percent of Microsoft's revenues, Office contributed less than one-third of the company's revenues throughout 2004, and increased competition from low-cost options such as Corel WordPerfect Office 12 and Sun's StarOffice/OpenOffice.org tandem are starting to hurt as well. But Microsoft's biggest competition in the office productivity space, ironically, comes from within: Older versions of the Office suite, including Office 2000, XP, and 2003, are often cited by customers as being good enough. Thus, businesses aren't upgrading to new Office versions as quickly as they used to. And most now skip a version or two before upgrading.