During his annual “strategic update” with Wall Street analysts, Steve Ballmer made it very clear that Office 14 will not launch in 2009. Normally outside of the business community, few would take notice of this. But with the high profile beta of Windows 7 igniting a passion in both raging Microsoft fans and Mac / Linux converts alike, a delay on the Office side should have everyone concerned. The reason for this is simple; Office releases usually follow operating system launches extremely closely. Windows XP & Office XP both shipped together in 2002, and Windows Vista & Office 12 shipped together in January 2007 as well. Even though some versions of Office have released in-between operating systems, if we simply rely on history as a guide we won’t be seeing Windows 7 until 2010.
Microsoft released an alpha version of its new office suite back in January, and rumors were swirling that Office 14 would indeed come in 2009, rumors Steve Ballmer has now put to rest. With an open beta not planned until sometime in the summer, it seems likely that the RC (release candidate) version would push well into the fourth quarter and see an early 2010 release.
Now that we know Windows 7 development is far ahead of Office, will Microsoft delay the launch in order to have a concurrent release? Or will it break with tradition in order to capitalize on the good will that has been building since the release of the beta. Let us know what you think.