Microsoft has confirmed that the delay in Windows Vista will also affect the next version of Office.

Like Vista, Office 2007 will be available to business customers through Microsoft's volume licensing programme by the end of 2006. However, the product won't be sold to consumers until January 2007, the company said.

A Microsoft spokeswoman called the change a "business decision," and said the development of the software will be completed on schedule before the end of the year.

Microsoft plans to release two business editions of Office 2007 - Office Professional Plus and Office Enterprise. These will be available to business customers through Microsoft's volume licensing programme before the end of 2006, the company said. Consumer versions of Office - Office Home and Student 2007, Office Professional 2007, Office Small Business 2007 and Office Standard 2007 - will be sold on retail shelves and through other consumer sales channels starting in January 2007, according to Microsoft.

Microsoft still expects to release a public Beta 2 of Office 2007 by late June, the company added.

The company on Thursday also restructured the division that oversees both Windows and its Windows Live web-based services. As part of the restructuring, the leader of the Office team, Steve Sinofsky, was moved to head up a new group within Platforms & Services called the Windows and Windows Live Group.