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9/21/2007
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New Version Of Microsoft Office Due In 2009

The next version of the Microsoft Office productivity suite appears to be on track to be released in the fall of 2009, with test releases coming as soon as early next year.

Office 2007 came out earlier this year, and Microsoft released another service pack for Office 2003 earlier this week. But the next version of the productivity suite, code-named Office 14, is just around the bend. The software suite appears to be on track to be released in the fall of 2009, with test releases coming as soon as early next year.

Microsoft isn't talking, but an official Microsoft roadmap found on the Web site of recent Microsoft acquisition Stratature seems to be clear. According to the document, Microsoft will release Office 14 with Bulldog, which is the current code name for Microsoft's take on Stratature's master data management product, +EDM. A blog by Microsoft's Patrick Guimonet, an IT Pro Evangelist in France, notes that test releases of Bulldog will also "align" with those of Office 14.

The Bulldog roadmap states that an early, limited technology preview of Bulldog -- and thus Office -- is due in February 2008, with a more formal program due by the middle of the year, followed by a community technology preview by the fall of 2008 and the general release of Bulldog and Office a year later.

Stratature +EDM aims at handling a whale of a problem: how to manage and assure data quality among the large and disparate sets of information that are key to running a business, ranging from customer and product data to information on employees and suppliers. That provides companies with a single, accurate version of the truth that can show them, say, all the accumulated data on one customer.

Though this sounds like it should be something that fits well with SQL Server, the plan is for Bulldog, the next version of +EDM, to ship with Office 14, most likely as part of the next version of SharePoint Server. It will be tied into the company's PerformancePoint business intelligence product, Dynamics CRM and ERP products, Excel spreadsheets, SharePoint, "key third-party applications" and of course, SQL Server, according to the document.

As for the official Microsoft comment on the whole thing? "We've got nothing to announce at this point, we're focused on Office 2007 and the momentum we're seeing around it at the moment," a spokesman said.

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