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Microsoft has announced details of its forthcoming Office franchise update. Office 2007 - formerly Office 12 - will be out by the end of this year and will come in several flavours.

All are set to present a clutch of new features, including a new user interface and XML-based file formats. The new Standard and Professional editions will come in at $399 and $499 respectively.

For volume business customers the Professional Plus edition will offer “information management and teamwork solutions”, according to a Microsoft press release. This will principally be delivered through addition of SharePoint Server 2007, and Office's own instant messaging program Communicator.

Enterprise 2007 will further build on this with more for mobile and collaborative business, incorporating Ray Ozzie's Groove software, which Microsoft acquired last year.

Microsoft says Groove will enable group sychronised working - either through its own server, or a $79 per year subsciption service, hosted by the software giant.

The $149 home edition will be called Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007, and will no longer be bundled with Outlook. A second beta release will be available in the first half of this year. ®

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