Microsoft to launch next Office for Mac in second half of 2014

Microsoft Germany executive declines to provide more information on what will probably be called 'Office for Mac 2015'

Microsoft today said that it would launch a new version of Office for Mac before the end of the year, but won't discuss details until the second half of 2014.

In an interview with Computerwoche -- literally, "Computerweek" -- a Microsoft Germany official said that Office for Mac had been delayed because the development team, dubbed the Macintosh Business Unit (MacBU), had been folded into the larger Microsoft Business Unit (MBU), the division responsible for Office on Windows, in the first quarter of 2011.

Thorsten Hbschen, business group lead for Microsoft Office in Germany, spoke to Computerwoche -- like Computerworld owned by IDG -- at CeBit 2014, the massive computer trade show running this week in Hanover, Germany.

Hbschen said Microsoft would reveal more information about Office for Mac in the second half of this year.

The next Office for Mac is already late by past Microsoft practice. The average timespan between Office for Mac editions -- going back as far as Office v. X -- has been 1,088 days. But as of today, it has been 1,232 days since the launch of Office for Mac 2011.

Historically, Microsoft has hewn to a three-year development cycle for both Office on the Mac and the far-more-popular Office suite for Windows, with a new version of the former following the newest of the latter by several months at a minimum.

Office for Mac 2011, for instance, followed Office 2010 on Windows by 134 days, or just over four months. Office for Mac 2008, however, came 351 days, or nearly a year, after the debut of its Windows sibling, Office 2007. But even the longer lag time of the latter has been exceeded: Office 2013 for Windows launched Jan. 29, 2013, 406 days ago.

It's likely that the next Office for Apple's OS X will be titled "Office for Mac 2015," as Microsoft typically slaps the next year's date on an Office edition that launches in the second half of a calendar year.

If Microsoft waits until later this year to ship Office for Mac 2015, it will be cutting it close: The Redmond, Wash., company supports Mac editions of Office for just five years, half the support lifecycle of the Windows' suite, and Office for Mac 2011's retirement date is set for Jan. 12, 2016. Customers may have little more than a year to migrate to the newest edition before Microsoft stops patching Office for Mac 2011.

Microsoft also shuttered the Mac Office-specific blog it maintained for years at the site where it touts and sells the productivity suite. "As of today, no new posts will appear," the blog stated Monday. Future posts will be published on the more inclusive Office Blogs website, where Office on Windows and Office 365 dominate.

The MacBU blog shutdown was part of a January refresh of all Microsoft's blogs that focused on Office topics, a company spokeswoman said.

Microsoft neither confirmed nor denied Hbschen's comments on Office for Mac release timing. "The team is hard at work on the next version of Office for Mac," the spokeswoman said in an emailed reply to questions.

This article, Microsoft to launch next Office for Mac in second half of 2014, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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