Retail pricing for the comparable versions of the product has not been increased, remaining unchanged from the retail prices for Office 2003, John Cairns, senior director of licensing and pricing in Microsofts Information Worker division, told eWEEK.
Asked about the large number of offerings, Cairns said customers have been telling Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., about the changing nature of their work and their new and diverse needs. "We believe these offerings will provide the flexibility customers need to meet all of their needs," he said.
There are three new offerings among the seven Microsoft Office client suites, two of which are specifically targeted at business users. The new Office Professional Plus 2007 has a number of enhancements, most notably the addition of server-enabled capabilities that allow customers to do things like document routing and approval, create electronic forms and pass those around, and publish spreadsheets more easily, he said.
It also includes 2007 versions of Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, Access, InfoPath and Publisher. On top of that, Microsoft has added the new Office Communicator application, its enterprise-ready instant messaging client.
"IM is becoming a mainline way in which people do work in the enterprise and customers have been asking for a secure IM client, and we are now offering them this," Cairns said. "This is the workhorse release for business users."
Microsoft, however, considers the new Office Enterprise 2007 suite "the biggest news for the enterprise" as it contains all the software found in Office Professional Plus 2007 as well as two additional applications: Office OneNote and the new Office Groove, which are aimed at to boost collaboration and mobility for users. "We believe that this will be the benchmark suite for those companies that take collaboration seriously," he said.
Both of these Office suites will be available only through Microsofts various volume licensing programs, and Cairns declined to comment on pricing in any way, not even to say whether the price will go up for those customers.
The Microsoft Office Professional 2007 suite will retail for $499, while an upgrade will cost $329.
Microsoft will also introduce a new offering in the consumer space, known as Office Home and Student 2007, which is essentially a follow-on to its current Office Student and Teacher Edition.
The product will no longer be sold to just students and teachers, Cairns said, but to any consumer who wants to buy it. Another change is that Outlook has been replaced with the OneNote application, as that will be more useful to students, he said.
"But we are keeping the non-commercial use restriction for the product, so it cant be bought for use in business. Also, at an estimated retail price of $149 and with the right to load it on three machines, which translates into about just $49 per install, this is by far our most affordable option," Cairns said.