Microsoft Office 2003 ships

Almost a week after Amazon's inadvertent online leak, Microsoft has begun shipping Office 2003 to PC makers and set a date for final availability

Microsoft released the final code of Office 2003 to manufacturing on Tuesday -- five days after details of the new Office suite leaked online.

Retail versions will be available on 21 October, according to Microsoft -- three days before Amazon originally said the software would be released. Amazon has now corrected the details on its UK site.

Office marketing manager Mike Pryke-Smith said pricing for the UK has not been worked out, and would be available "in the next couple of weeks", but pointed out that each retailer is responsible for setting its own prices and that these would be "in line" with Office XP prices.

Although Amazon UK had corrected the availability date on its site, the prices on Tuesday had not changed from the prices that were inadvertently posted last week, indicating that these are an accurate reflection of what Office 2003 will be available for.

According to Amazon, Microsoft Office 2003 for Windows XP, which comprises Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint, will cost £349.99, while the professional version, which adds Outlook, Publisher and Access to the mix, is priced at £429.99. These prices are a slight hike over the £333.99 and £397.99 that Amazon currently charges for the Office XP and Office XP Pro packages respectively, but lower than the list prices for the products. 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.

Companies who are signed up to Microsoft volume licensing agreements will see Office 2003 and its constituent components listed with pricing from 1 September, said Pryke-Smith. OEMs are likely to begin shipping PCs with Office 2003 from 1 September too.