Is Microsoft’s Office 2010 ‘a Couple of Months’ Away?

There’s one perk that Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer likes to exercise, as much as the CEO’s handlers might like him to stifle some of his out-of-the-blue statements. The head of Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) can announce anything he wants, even unrealistic ship dates for important products.

Last week, in a speech to the Nashville Technology Council at Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville, Tenn., Ballmer pulled a classic. The outspoken CEO either got a little ahead of his developers or he pre-announced early availability of Office 2010. It wouldn’t be the first time for either scenario.

“You’ll see the new version of Office [2010], which comes out here in just a couple of months,” Ballmer told the audience. He didn’t elaborate, however.

That may be news to the Office development team. On Dec. 1, the company announced that Office 2010, the successor to Office 2007, will ship right when it was first promised — in June 2010.

Of course, if Ballmer literally meant “a couple of months,” as he said, that would move the ship date for Office 2010 forward by as much as three months.

A company spokesperson carefully downplayed Ballmer’s statement Monday.

“Please note that we expect Office 2010 and related products to be generally available in June 2010,” the spokesperson told in an e-mail. The spokesperson, however, did not directly negate Ballmer’s statement, but rather reiterated what the company said in December.

It is not inconceivable that Office 2010 could ship early. After all, the first beta began in October 2008, followed by a second beta test release last fall. Since then, some 2 million users downloaded the second beta test release.

Meanwhile, Microsoft also revealed the system requirements for the latest version of the company’s productivity applications suite.

“If your current computer can run Office 2007, it can run Office 2010; if you’re purchasing a new laptop or netbook, it can run Office 2010; [and] if you have a computer with a multi-core processor, it can run Office 2010 even faster,” said a post on the Office 2010 Engineering blog Friday.

That is, for users who are already running Office 2007, Office 2010 should run without problems.

“We’re comfortable with a 500 MHz CPU and 256 MB of RAM as appropriate minimum requirements for Office 2010,” the post said.

“Our footprint has gotten larger since Office 2007, but we’re proud to say that we’ve succeeded in keeping the CPU and RAM requirements the same as for Office 2007,” the post continued. The disk footprint for Office 2010, though, has grown by between 1 and 1.5 GB over that required for Office 7. That footprint varies, however, depending on which edition of Office 2010 it is.

Office 2010 runs on all recent versions of Windows, including Windows XP Service Pack 3, although the 64-bit edition of XP is not supported and neither is the 64-bit release of Windows 2003 R2.

Stuart J. Johnston is a contributing writer at, the news service of, the network for technology professionals.

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