Microsoft Windows 7 and Office 14 are unlikely to be released simultaneously, despite Office 2007 and Windows Vista having been released at the same time, sources have said.
Those who follow Microsoft closely said that while they expect Windows 7 to be in full release as early as August or September - or at least by the end of this year - Office 14 probably won't be out until next year.
Microsoft released the first Windows 7 beta for public download on Saturday, initially limiting its release to a certain number of users due to an overwhelming response that caused problems for its web site. The company later lifted the ban.
The Windows 7 beta is feature-complete, which means that all Microsoft will do between now and the final release is fix bugs and ensure the code is stable, rather than add new features to the OS.
However, no one has seen anything close to an Office 14 public beta yet, and Microsoft won't publicly comment on the software or its release date.
Andrew Brust, chief, new technology for Microsoft consulting partner twentysix New York, said he would not be surprised if Windows 7 were available to business customers in the summer, which in the US refers to June, July and August.
Brust said he does not have specific insider information about Windows 7's scheduled release. However, the initial positive response to the Windows 7 beta and the fact that the OS is highly anticipated in the wake of Vista's shortcomings give Microsoft a strong impetus to get it into customers' hands sooner rather than later.
"People want this thing yesterday, and I think Vista sales could stagnate now because of it," he said via e-mail. "So it's in Microsoft's best interest to get Windows 7 to market. Not before it's ready, mind you. But the second it's done, it's got to go out.
However, he thinks Office 14 "will be a 2010 thing," a theory supported by screenshots posted on the UX Evangelist blog of Stephen Chapman, a Microsoft enthusiast, of an alleged road map for Office. The screenshot shows Office 14 as a 2010 release.