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'Office 2007' It Is

It's official. Microsoft announced overnight on Wednesday that Office "12" will be officially known as -- ta da! -- Office 2007. At the same time, the Redmond software maker announced a dizzying array of packaging and licensing options.

Through the fog, one analyst sees the outlines of higher prices.

"Complexity ... is about costs," JupiterResearch senior analyst Joe Wilcox commented on his Weblog. "There's no question Microsoft has increased value for customers that need the new features, but upfront acquisition costs will be a hardship for some businesses ... Those businesses without an Enterprise Agreement or Software Assurance will pay a lot more."

Actually, the official new name is a little bit foggy as well. The company's press materials refer to it as the grammatical tongue-twister -- 2007 Microsoft Office System. But on the same page, Microsoft refers to it as simply Office 2007 -- likely to be the moniker people use to refer to it.

Microsoft released the "technical" beta of Office 2007 in November. A wider beta is planned for spring, with release planned by the end of 2006.

Meanwhile, this latest incarnation of Office has been bundled into seven separate editions with a myriad of options and other add-ons. At the top will be Office Enterprise 2007, a new offering meant only for volume customers (pricing was not provided for the Enterprise edition).

Office Enterprise 2007 will consist of 2007 releases of Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, Access, InfoPath, Communicator, Publisher, OneNote and Groove. It will also include what Microsoft refers to as "integrated solution capabilities," such as enterprise content management, electronic forms, and information rights and policy capabilities

The other editions include Office Professional, Professional Plus, Small Business, Standard, Home, Student and Basic. Office Basic 2007 provides Word, Excel and Outlook, and it will only be available through OEMs on new PCs. Pricing was not given for the Basic edition either.

Standard edition adds PowerPoint to the list included in the Basic edition, while Professional adds Access, Publisher and Business Contact Manager. Professional Plus adds on the Groove collaboration client and OneNote note-taking application.

Office Standard 2007 will cost $399 new or $239 for upgrades. Office Professional 2007 will cost $499 for the full package or $329 for the upgrade. Plus, which is the new name for Office Professional Enterprise Edition, will only be available for volume purchasers. The Small Business edition will be $449 new and $279 as an upgrade, and the Home and Student versions will cost $149 new (no upgrade available).

Microsoft also will have an a la carte menu for additional products. For instance, InfoPath will cost $199 (no upgrade) and OneNote will cost $99 (also no upgrade). A new Web portal design tool called SharePoint Designer 2007 will cost $299.

Additionally, Microsoft is offering a slug of servers to work with its Office System "platform." These include three new servers: Office Forms Server 2007, Office Groove Server 200 and Office Project Portfolio Server 2007. However, all are, according to documents on Microsoft's site, only available through volume licensing. There are additional new client access licenses coming as well.

Which is where JupiterResearch's Wilcox sees the rub.

"Like Office 2003, many businesses will pay more for Office 2007 than its predecessor [although] the cost increases might not be obvious with retail pricing. At a base level, volume licensing customers can expect to pay about 5 percent more than for Office 2003," Wilcox notes.

Microsoft has posted more complete information here.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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