Microsoft channel partners will get a better idea of just when they can get their hands on the next release of Office, Microsoft's flagship desktop productivity application suite, when it makes its debut today.
Known until now as "Office 15," Microsoft sources say the software is expected to be officially crowned "Office 2013," indicating that it won't be generally available until after the first of the year.
Microsoft has scheduled a press conference in San Francisco for later today with CEO Steve Ballmer, who is serving as master of ceremonies. While Microsoft has sought to keep the Office announcement a secret, it hasn't been as successful as it was several weeks ago, when it surprised the industry with its Surface tablet announcements.
Microsoft launched a technical preview of Office 15 back in January, providing a limited number of developers and customers with an early look at the software. Microsoft executives at the time said the public beta would be available later in the summer, so today's event is widely expected to include either an announcement of the availability of the public beta or a time table for releasing on -- and possibly a schedule for its general availability.
Microsoft has been tightlipped about the features and functionality in the new Office release. But the applications are expected to sport a new look and feel because they support the Metro design language used to develop Metro user interface in the upcoming Windows 8.
Microsoft is in the midst of an unprecedented wave of new product releases and product updates. Earlier this year, the company shipped System Center 2012, a new edition of its systems management suite, and the SQL Server 2012 database. Last week, Microsoft announced availability dates for Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 later this fall.
PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2012