Office 2003 prices leak online

Summary:Pricing for Microsoft Office 2003 has appeared online together with a heavy hint at its release date, in what appears to be the latest e-commerce blunder

Prices for Microsoft Office 2003, together with a range of other upcoming products from the company, have been released on online retailer Amazon.com's UK site.

Microsoft had been keeping a tight lid on pricing information for the new products, as well as a launch date. The listings on Amazon.co.uk indicate that the products will be available on 24 October. An Amazon spokeswoman said the prices appeared to be authorised. "We generally put pricing up as soon as we get it," she said.

Microsoft however said it has still not released pricing and at the time of writing was looking into the matter.

Microsoft had previously said only that the various components of its newly renamed Office System line of products would ship late this summer. That meant Microsoft would need to have a final version of the software to ship to PC manufacturers within the next few weeks.

According to Amazon's listings -- pointed out by ZDNet UK reader Jean-Claude Romanino -- Microsoft Office 2003 for Windows XP, which comprises Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint, is priced at £349.99, while the professional version, which adds Outlook, Publisher and Access to the mix, costs £429.99. These prices are a slight hike over the £333.99 and £397.99 that Amazon currently charges respectively for the Office XP and Office XP Pro packages. The price for the Standard edition for students and teachers has also risen, from £87.49 for Office XP, to £119.99 for Office 2003. Office Small Business Edition, which is the same as the Professional addition but comes without the Access database application, costs £384.99.

Upgrades are priced at £199.99 for the standard edition, £269.99 for the professional version and £234.99 for the Small Business Edition.

Amazon is also listing prices for a range of individual applications that are due out soon -- again the date is given as 24 October. However, despite Microsoft's stated aim to rebrand the applications so they are less separate programs and more part of the entire suite -- Outlook 2003 would be called Office Outlook 2003, for instance -- Amazon seems oblivious to the rebranding.

On Amazon's site, Outlook 2003 is priced at £89.99, while Word 2003, Excel 2003 and Powerpoint 2003 each cost £199.99. Project 2003 is £484.88, Publisher is £139.99, Visio and Visio Pro costs £169.99 and £419.99 respectively. Upgrade prices for all these products are included too. The complete list of prices, together with an option to pre-order the products, is available here.

Amazon is also listing standalone pricing for two new applications that make their debut in Office 2003: Infopath and OneNote.

InfoPath, priced at £179.99, is an application for organising and sharing data. Microsoft is positioning the product, in part, as a tool to let data migrate from one application in Office to another through Extensible Markup Language (XML). With InfoPath, a sales manager could create a form where team members submit numerical data from Excel and notes from Word. The two applications would work harmoniously on the same page and allow for automatic updates.

OneNote, priced at £169.99, is like Word but lets users write notes anywhere on the screen. It is designed for use with tablet PC hardware.

Analysts have raised concerns that many businesses will be shocked by the complexity of InfoPath, which functions differently than other Office applications and which makes more use of XML than any other Office 2003 program. They say it undercuts both Microsoft's attempt to make Office into something more than productivity program, and the company's plan to reposition Office as a "platform" for which developers can create applications, as with Windows.

CNET News.com's David Becker and Joe Wilcox contributed to this report.

Topics: Apps

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