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Microsoft delays consumer Office software to 2007

Written by: Staff
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NEW YORK, Mar 25 (Reuters) Microsoft Corp. said on Friday it would delay the consumer launch of its Office software package until next year to coincide with the debut of its Vista operating system.

Both products had been expected later this year. The 2007 Microsoft Office package, which includes the Word processor, Excel spreadsheet, and PowerPoint presentation software, will be made available to business customers in October 2006, the world biggest software maker said.

Earlier this week, Microsoft delayed the consumer launch of its much-anticipated Windows Vista software until January 2007 from an earlier target of the second half of 2006 and pledged to ship the next version of its operating system to business customers in November.

Vista is the first major overhaul of Windows since Microsoft rolled out Windows XP nearly five years ago. The company's last major update to Office came in 2003.

''We do not find it surprising that Microsoft chose to delay the Office launch in order to launch the two products together,'' Sanford C. Bernstein analyst Charles Di Bona wrote in a note to clients.

''We think this strategy is appropriate as a way to create the maximum initial demand for both products, rather than trying to split marketing resources between two big launches separated by only a couple of months.'' Last week, Microsoft launched a 0 million marketing blitz campaign called ''People Ready'' to highlight its software to help businesses be more efficient including the upgrades to Office and Windows.

The successful roll-out of the new products are vital to Microsoft re-establishing itself as a company with robust growth potential and kick-starting its stock, which has been mostly stagnant for the last five years.

Microsoft shares rose 22 cents to .07 Friday on Nasdaq.

REUTERS SD RK1518

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