Having announced version, pricing and licensing options for Vista and Office 2007, Microsoft has revealed next-generation packaging for its new software.

Vista, five years in the making, won't come in the traditional box but instead is packaged in small, hard, plastic containers with a rounded corner at the top of the box.

Nick White, Vista product manager, writes on the Vista team's blog: "The new packaging is designed to protect the software inside for life-long use. Our plan is to extend this packaging style to other Microsoft products after the launch of Windows Vista and Office 2007."

The company posted photos of the Vista and Office packaging on the Vista Team blog.

Vista and Office are expected to finally ship at the end of November for volume-licensing customers, with the consumer version shipping in January.