Microsoft on Monday said that its upcoming 2007 version of Microsoft Office has gone "gold," a designation that marks the productivity software code's release to manufacturing (RTM).
After months of sliding deadlines and revised release dates, the completion of the Office code is a cause for merriment at Microsoft and perhaps to a fair number of customers—450 million people worldwide use Office, and Office 2007 beta was downloaded 3.5 million times.
The company's plan to make its Office suite, Windows Vista operating system, and Exchange Server 2007 available to business customers on Nov. 30 appears to be on track.
General availability is scheduled for early next year.
The next major milestone is the release to manufacturing of Windows Vista, which is likely to occur in the next few days. Microsoft plans to mark the release of its long-awaited software with events around the globe, including one with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to be held in New York.
"We've crossed the development finish line, and the team deserves to celebrate," said Jeff Raikes, president of the Microsoft Business Division, in a statement. "The 2007 Microsoft Office system RTM completes the most significant improvements to the products in more than a decade. It's rewarding to be able to send this release off to our customers and help them take the next big leap forward in productivity."
To help people learn about the new version of Office, Microsoft Office Online has been redesigned and augmented with a variety of tools and informational resources. Microsoft has created almost 50,000 new help articles and 24 new online courses to help users learn about the revamped Office suite.
Microsoft aims to help business adoption along as well. In order to make the upgrade processes easier, it has readied a variety of software tools for IT professionals such as Office Migration Planning Manager, Open XML Formats Conversion Toolkit, Business Desktop Deployment 2007 Solution Accelerator, and Office Resource Kit, among others.
On Dec. 1, Microsoft plans to expand the Online Test Drive currently available at the Office Online site with a downloadable Office trial intended to give users a better sense of the new applications.