Recent reports indicate that a simultaneous launch of Windows 7 and Office 14 is not likely. But I think it behooves Microsoft to launch the two together as a united front against the brand damage of Vista and the rising threat of Web-based productivity applications.
Much like Windows 7, Office 14 is slated for release in late 2009/early 2010. It’s impossible to say when either of these products will actually ship, as Microsoft has been evasive about Windows 7 and virtually silent about Office 14.
One could argue that Office 14 can afford to wait until 2010 and Windows 7 cannot. I agree about Windows 7. But can Office really wait, particularly the promised Web version of Office, when more and more consumers and businesses are migrating to inexpensive online alternatives from Google, Adobe and Zoho?
The beta of Windows 7 and alpha version of Office 14 are both out there in the wilderness now, making a simultaneous launch more of a possibility. It would probably delay Windows 7, which is a bit further along in the release cycle than Office. But it’s worth it. If there was ever a time for Microsoft to start fresh with new a new OS and productivity suite it’s this year, especially if Microsoft follows through on the promise of a Web-based version of Office to compete with Google Apps.
The buzz around the Office 14 alpha release this week was amplified when a Russian tester set free screenshots of Word 14, Excel 14, Publisher 14, Access 14, Visio 14 and a list of other apps that will be part of Office 14. Click here to see the screenshots.
The beta of Office 14 reportedly will start in May and Microsoft is expected to provide more details about Office 14 in the next quarter.
If Microsoft does streamline the releases of Windows 7 and Office 14, as it did with Vista and Office 2007, it will need to give consumers and business buyers a compelling reason to buy both. Details for an integration plan between the two are scarce, but improved enterprise search (i.e. finding files in SharePoint or any Office applications) is something I’ve heard rumblings about.
For those who have tested both the Windows 7 beta and the Office 14 alpha, what ways do you think they could integrate together and do you think they should launch at the same time?
With a down economy and persistent talk of Microsoft layoffs, at the very least it would be cheaper for Microsoft to launch them together.