USA Today reports that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer plans to unveil Office 2013 (aka Office 15) during a news conference in San Francisco on Monday, July 16. The news arrives by way of unnamed industry sources who claim that the money-making suite will be available on store shelves early next year, "bristling" with hooks into Windows 8.
Microsoft has been highly secretive about Office 2013, but has promised to release a beta sometime this summer. This is probably part of Ballmer's announcement on Monday -- the release of the public beta so that consumers can get a taste of the upcoming Office suite. This beta will undoubtedly work alongside the Windows 8 Release Preview so that end-users get the full Metro experience before both go retail.
If Microsoft follows the same delivery schedule used with Office 2010, the company will likely launch the final product 28 weeks after it delivers the public beta. If the beta does indeed launch on Monday, then the likely release date will be around the week of January 28 to February 1, 2013.
But a different set of sources clam that the Office 2013 client, servers and newest version of Office 365 services probably won't be generally available until May 2013. This is seemingly late in the year given that Office 13 is expected to go RTM by the end of 2012. Until then, new machines will reportedly ship with "significantly" upgraded Office Web Apps based on similar apps listed in Office 2013.
Microsoft just recently confirmed that Windows 8 will launch in October. However the company also reportedly announced the Windows 8 licensing fees to OEM partners: $80 to $100 USD for using both Windows 8 Pro and Office 2013, and between $50 and $65 USD for using Windows RT and Office 13 RT.
The ARM-based version of Office 2013 will feature four touch-focused apps: Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. These apps are supposedly pre-installed (PDF) on Windows RT-based tablets, including Microsoft's own branded Surface RT. Does this mean we won't see the launch of Windows RT tablets until Office 2013 hits store shelves? Or will these devices initially offer Office Web Apps too if launched in October?
Currently Microsoft isn't verifying any information about Office 2013 public beta, the final release timing or distribution plans. The press conference taking place in San Francisco on Monday, which starts at 12pm PT and ends at 12:45pm, promises that attendees will get the latest news from Microsoft. Attendees will have a chance to speak with Microsoft experts and customers from 1:30pm to 5pm.
Analyst Charles King at research firm Pund-IT indicated to USA Today that not only is a lot riding on the success of Windows 8, but on Office 2013 as well. "If Office 15 is a bust, those repercussions will impact and potentially injure virtually every part of Microsoft," he told the paper.