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Microsoft teases possible Jan. 29 launch for Office 2013

Mystery event scheduled in New York City

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An old adage holds that nobody on their deathbed ever said, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office." But more time is exactly what Microsoft is offering in a new ad campaign that appears to tease a January 29 launch date for Office 2013 and its accompanying refresh of Office 365.

Few details have been revealed so far other than the date, the hashtag #Timeto365, and text reading, "More time to do the things you want."

  Microsoft's teaser website proffering a possible Office 2013 launch date

Even more baffling, when El Reg contacted Microsoft for clarification, we got absolutely nothing. A spokesperson wouldn't even repeat the January 29 date, let alone what we could expect to happen on it.

"All we can reiterate is what Microsoft has previously said: 'The new Office will become generally available in the first quarter of 2013,'" is what we were told.

Despite this evasive response, however, Redmond has been beavering away on the buzz with a few cryptic Twitter posts that suggest some kind of event will take place in New York City's Bryant Park on Tuesday.

Photographs posted to the official Office Twitter feed show large, orange stand-up letters on display in the park, reading, "Create" and "Imagine." As to what these are supposed to signify, well, we can only (ahem) imagine.

The retail version of Office 2013 has been available to MSDN and TechNet subscribers since October. Microsoft made a time-limited trial version available for download in November, and Volume Licensing customers have been able to buy it since December. Redmond, however, has yet to announce a date when the full product will be generally available at retail.

The formal Office 2013 launch is widely expected to coincide with a refresh of Office 365, the subscription-based version of the suite that bundles online extras with the desktop Office applications.

Microsoft has been leaning hard on customers to go the subscription route, by offering more-flexible terms for Office 365 licenses and promising future extras that it says won't be made available to customers who buy the retail, perpetual-license version.

It makes sense, then, that Redmond would build most of its launch hype around Office 365 rather than the retail Office 2013, as it seems to be doing with the Bryant Park event on Tuesday.

As for whether this event truly will signal general availability of the suite, however, we'll just have to wait and see. ®

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