Microsoft decided -- after a number of "alarmist news stories" (the Mac Business Unit team's words, not mine) -- to share publicly the timetable for releasing the promised Office-file format converters needed by Office for Mac users to read the new Office 2007 default document formats.
Microsoft plans to release the Office file-format converters in late March/early April, according to a posting on the Mac BU team's Web site.
(Update: Actually, as one reader alerted me on Wednesday, it's only going to be a beta of the converter that is available in the spring.)
"We realize this will be an inconvenience for some of you (trust me, we know - 90% of Microsoft has been dogfooding Office 2007 for many months, and we in the MacBU are well used to asking for down-reved versions ourselves)," said Microsoft Mac BU group marketing manager Sheridan Jones. "For now, we recommend that Mac users advise their friends and colleagues using Office 2007 to save their documents as a “Word/Excel/PowerPoint 97-2003 Document” (.doc, .xls, .ppt) to ensure the documents can be shared across platforms."
The next version of Office for Mac is expected in mid- to late-2007, based on information previously shared on the Microsoft Mac BU blog.
My last word (for now) on the flap: I'm glad all those alarmists (present company included) sounded the bell today and got Microsoft to release information that should have been freely forthcoming.