Businesses waiting to get their hands on Microsoft's flagship Office software will have to wait a little longer now that the company has postponed delivery while it works out some kinks discovered in beta versions of the product.
Delays have become common practice with the software giant with the release of the muchhyped Vista operating system also being pushed back several times in recent months.
According to Microsoft the redesigned Office portfolio will be released to the public early next year instead of October as was previously announced.
"Based on internal testing and Beta feedback around product performance we are revising our development schedule to deliver the Microsoft Office system by the end of year with broad general availability in early " the company said in a statement.
The large number of people particpating in the Beta test might have led to the discovery of the performance issues. Gartner analyst Michael Silver said Microsoft was apparently surprised by the number of Office beta downloads.
"With a project this big a launch delay can be expected but this is somewhat surprising given how firm they were in March about the October shipping date" he said.
Silver suggested that Microsoft might be struggling with finetuning the large number of new server and client components included in Office . "The problem is that they have not budgeted enough time to get everything done on time" he said.
The relatively short delay is not a major setback for Microsoft Silver said although it could ruffle the feathers of small business customers who have Software Assurance contracts that might expire before Office is delivered. "In some cases those customers won't qualify for an upgrade which means Microsoft will have to extend the contracts or make other arrangements to keep them happy" he said.
Jupiter Research analyst Joe Wilcox offered a similar take saying that the pattern established by Microsoft hurts the company's credibility among businesses customers. "Pushing back the release of Office by a couple of months is not a major problem especially since they are still on track to release Vista at the same time" he said.
But he added if Vista suffers another bump the repercussions could be worse because so many PC users are clamoring for the nextgeneration OS.
Delivering new products that work well out of the box presents a Catch situation for Microsoft said Kyle McNabb of Forrester Research.
"If they release something too soon without adequate testing they may have to issue a service pack that could present an annoyance for users" he said. "On the other hand repeated delays don't do much in building confidence among their customers."