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The world’s biggest software maker said it will now aim for a launch of Office 2007 to business customers by the end of 2006 rather than an earlier autumn target. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also said it would delay the general availability of the Office upgrade to early 2007 from its previous January target.

It should come as no surprise, really, as Microsoft is known for serially delaying new products. Furthermore, with the Vista operating system delayed, what was Office 2007 supposed to run on anyway?

For the record, we feel about Office as we feel about Vista: Microsoft needs to get them right so delays are better than half-baked products. However, longer-term it will be crucial for Microsoft to get more effecient use of its R&D budget. It needs to release reasonably significant upgrades on an ongoing basis rather than having huge overhauls every 4-5 years. In short, it needs to get smaller because that is the most likely way to get more nimble.

MSFT 1-yr chart:

MSFT 1-yr chart

Source: Microsoft Pushes Back Office 2007 Release (yawn) (MSFT)