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Microsoft Office 2013 releases to manufacturing, reaches most of us early next year

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Break out the party streamers and balloons -- if only in an orderly fashion, because this is the day Office 2013 has been released to manufacturing. The completion swings Microsoft's attention towards a rollout staggered over the next few months. Wider availability will have to wait until the first quarter of 2013 -- such synchronicity with your branding, Microsoft -- but companies who've sprung for volume licensing will get access as early as mid-November to December 1st, depending on whether or not they're embracing a Software Assurance plan. In the meantime, Microsoft is offering an easy path for anxious workers by promising a free copy of Office 2013 to everyone who buys Office 2010 from October 19th onwards. The upgraded software might not be cheap for those who aren't already buying a Windows RT tablet, but it's likely to be an important piece of the puzzle for anyone hunting down a touchscreen Windows 8 PC.

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