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Office 2007 Code Finished, Microsoft Says

Microsoft's newest suite released to manufacturing, with delivery to coincide with Windows Vista.

(Redmond, Wash.) Microsoft Corp. said it has wrapped up work on its delayed Office 2007 suite and released the code to manufacturing.

The world's largest software maker announced last week that Office 2007, along with updates of Windows and Exchange server for e-mail and calendars, would be made available to large business customers on Nov. 30.

The products are to be offered to retail consumers in early 2007, with prices for the full standard edition starting at $399 and upgrades starting at $239.

In June, the company delayed its release of Office, which includes its popular Word word processing, Excel spreadsheet, and PowerPoint presentation programs.

Office 2007 had been scheduled for release to big corporate customers in October and to consumers and smaller businesses in January, but Microsoft said feedback from technical experts and its own staff during "beta" testing raised enough concerns about quality and performance that it decided to postpone the release dates.

Windows Vista, the first update of Microsoft's operating system since 2001, has also been plagued by delays. Microsoft has said it plans to release Vista to consumers in January, but would delay it again if necessary.

Although Microsoft has been increasingly focused on branching out with technologies like new Web-based services to compete with Google Inc., and a digital music player to challenge Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod, its profits still hinge on sales of Windows and Office.

In its latest fiscal quarter, the division that includes Office pulled in about $3.4 billion in revenue while the unit that includes Windows made $3.3 billion -- comprising more than 60 percent of Microsoft's total operating income for the quarter.

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