Update: Microsoft slates Office 16 for second half of 2015

Will go through TAP and beta testing stages, says marketing manager

Microsoft has confirmed that it plans to launch its next version of Office for Windows in the second half of 2015.

ZDNet blogger Mary Jo Foley first reported on comments made by Julia White, general manager of marketing for Office and Office 365, at Microsoft's Tech Ed Europe conference in Barcelona.

According to Foley, White said that the next version of Office on Windows would launch in the last half of next year, a broad timetable that was different from previous speculation, which had focused on the first half of 2015, perhaps as early as April.

During the end of a guest spot Tuesday on Channel 9, Microsoft's online television channel, White did not specify the second half of the year, saying only "later in 2015." But she did mention that the next version of Office would go through Microsoft's typical testing process, including TAP (Technology Adoption Program) and a beta, with the latter presumably available to the general public.

TAP builds are pre-beta, and restricted to an invite-only group that's usually composed of Microsoft's larger corporate customers.

Microsoft confirmed that White's comments were accurate as reported.

If Microsoft makes its target of the second half of next year, the upgrade would be on the same schedule as the last several editions, which have been released about two-and-a-half-years apart. Office 2013, for example, reached what Microsoft calls "general availability" in January 2013, while Office 2010 and Office 2007 made that milestone in June 2010 and January 2007, respectively.

The next office, code named Office 16, would carry the official label of Office 2016 if Microsoft follows convention.

White's mention of Office was almost an afterthought, as she spent the bulk of her time in front of the Channel 9 cameras talking up Office 365, the rent-not-buy subscription model that provides constant updates to the locally-installed Office applications.

Office 16, or Office 2016, would be the version sold as a perpetual license, the kind that are paid for once, then used as long as the customer desires. Microsoft continues to sell the majority of its Office licenses -- to both consumers and companies -- as perpetual licenses, although Microsoft said that the number of subscription "seats" sold to enterprises in the September quarter was almost double that of the same period in 2013.

Microsoft has never disclosed an Office 365 total revenue number for any quarter, or revealed the number of paying users it has on the commercial side. And since it rejiggered its financial reporting in 2013, it has made it very difficult for analysts to tease out overall Office revenue because it splits sales among three different reporting categories.

Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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