Microsoft has confirmed the Friday report in WinInfo that Office 2000 and Office Developer have been released to manufacturing. The company waited until Monday to make the official announcement so that it could be made at the first Office Deployment Conference, which is being held in New Orleans this week. The suite is expected to become available to volume license customers in April with retail release expected on June 10, 1999.

"With this new release, Office has evolved from a standalone tool for use at individual desktops to a critical asset that empowers users to create and share information across enterprises," said Microsoft senior VP Bob Muglia. "Reflecting this broader role for Office, the new deployment and management capabilities in Office 2000 and new support resources deliver on critical enterprise needs, such as reduced total cost of ownership and seamless integration with business solutions."

Microsoft Office 2000 comes in five editions, each offering a unique combination of applications that are targeted at different groups. These editions include Office 2000 Standard, Professional, Premium, Small Business, and Developer. Office 2000 Premium is the most comprehensive version of the suites and includes the FrontPage 2000 Web site creation and management tool, PhotoDraw 2000 business graphics software, Word 2000, Microsoft Excel 2000, the Outlook 2000 messaging and collaboration client, the PowerPoint 2000 presentation graphics program, Microsoft Access 2000, Publisher 2000, Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 browser software and Microsoft Small Business Tools. Office 2000 will require a Pentium 166 or higher with 32MB of RAM plus an addition 4MB of RAM per Office application running simultaneously (8MB for Outlook). A full install of Office will require 250 to 525 MB of hard disk space.

I'm currently working on a full review of Office 2000 Premium Edition, which will be posted to the SuperSite for Windows 2000 later this week. Stay tuned for an announcement