The engineering team over at Microsoft just signed Office 2013 into its Release to Manufacturing (RTM) build. As of now, the coding and testing phases for the application are complete, and it is being moved into distribution. According to Microsoft, it is the most ambitious version of the Office suite to date, and is the first to be optimized for touch devices.
Office 2013 will include all of Microsoft's Office applications, cloud services, and servers. It has a new design that - much like Windows 8 - has been optimized for touch devices. Says the official Office blog, "[Office 2013] unlocks modern scenarios in social, reading, note-taking, meetings and communications."
What's next? Office 365 Enterprise customers will receive new features with the next service update beginning in November. Those with an MSDN or TechNet subscription will be able to download the final version by the middle of November. Finally, individuals with Software Assurance will be able to download Office 2013 via the Volume Licensing Service Center by the middle of November.
As of right now, the plan is to have Office 2013 on retailer shelves in Q1 of next year. Beginning October 19th, anyone who buys Office 2010 from a local retailer or reseller will be able to get Office 2013 free of charge. After the Windows 8 launch later this month, those with Windows RT devices will be able to preview the new Office.