The company's statement was brief and to the point: "Based on internal testing and beta 2 feedback around product performance, we are revising our development schedule to deliver the 2007 Microsoft Office system by the end of year 2006, with broad general availability in early 2007. Feedback on quality and performance will ultimately determine the exact dates.
The initial plan, announced in March, was to have the product ready by this October and offer early access to corporate customers, with general retail availability in January 2007, around the same time Windows Vista is supposed to ship.
Citing beta feedback struck Joe Wilcox, senior analyst with Jupiter Research, as unusual, as he has found the second beta of Office 2007 to be "very solid."
But, he added, Office 2007 is ambitious. "You have a new file format, a new user interface. Changing the interface has a lot of impact. Think of all the add-ons to Office that mimic the user interface so they're familiar. Well, now that UI has changed," he said.
Since Microsoft has not said how long Office is being delayed, it's hard to gauge the impact of the delay. However, Wilcox pointed out that shipping it to customers in October is rather pointless. "Who's going to test and deploy during the holidays, anyway? It's a non-issue whether it's available to businesses in November or December," he said.