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Microsoft springs Office 2007 SP2 release date - kinda

Somewhere between Valentine's and April Fool's

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Microsoft has confirmed it will dish up Office 2007 Service Pack 2 in the first half of next year.

The software giant said yesterday that customers would get their mitts on SP2 for its current office suite of apps sometime between February and April 2009. It didn’t give a specific release date, presumably to avoid shooting itself in the foot again if the service pack rocks up later than planned.

The company also took the opportunity in an official blog post to remind the world about its “commitment to interoperability”.

In May Microsoft moved to appease its critics and reassure regulators by proclaiming that Office 2007 SP2 will support rival file format OpenDocument Format (ODF) 1.1 used by openistas such as IBM and Sun Microsystems.

The upcoming release will also provide format support via its office suites’ “save” menu for Adobe’s Portable Document Format (PDF) 1.5 and XML Paper Specification (XPS). In addition, the firm promised to cough up new APIs that should allow developers, working within Office, to make file formats more compatible.

However, the European Commission – which has been probing anti-trust allegations against Microsoft since the start of this year – said it would investigate the software multinational’s interoperability proclamations.

Then in June, the EC’s anti-trust Commissioner Neelie ‘Steelie’ Kroes strongly rebuffed Microsoft by urging businesses and governments to use software based on open standards.

No wonder then that Microsoft, which in April saw its contentious document format – Office Open XML (OOXML) – ratified as an international standard in the face of strong oppoisition, continues to talk up its newfound commitment to the open community.

Meanwhile, back at the Redmond ranch, Microsoft wonks are gearing up for next week’s Professional Developer’s Conference (PDC) where it’s understood that topics up for discussion will include Office 14.

We asked Microsoft if it could confirm developers will hear more about the office suite at the event in Los Angeles, but it declined to comment on what announcements would be made.

The Seventh Seal

Elsewhere, rumours continue to plod through the blogosphere that Windows 7, possibly Microsoft’s final operating system based on a desktop, will land in the second half of 2009.

This is something we’ve speculated about repeatedly since news first broke about the forthcoming OS that’s based on the Vista kernel.

The latest gossip comes from someone Twittering about Microsoft saying on its WinHEC 2008 website that “there is not another WinHEC planned before Windows 7 is released”.

Oh, and then the Asus CEO Jerry Shen appears to have attempted to score some ink dropped the ball by saying in a magazine interview that “in the second half of next year we will put Windows 7 on Eee PCs”.

According to a Windows blogger the logic follows that Windows 7 will tip up by November next year because, er, Wikipedia has confirmed that WinHEC is an annual event.

We're not so sure about that. After all, the company pushed back this year's WinHEC to November, but it was originally scheduled for April or May this year, and indeed it tends to be a spring rather than autumn shindig.

In reality, no one has a definitive date yet and Microsoft, whose execs insist it's being more transparent about future releases, remains on message: Redmond's lips are sealed. ®

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