has pre-empted Microsoft by releasing pricing for the 2003 release of Office, or Office System as the company has dubbed its latest software.

So far Microsoft has been tight-lipped on pricing and launch date, although it is said to be planning an announcement later this week. But now it appears that Amazon has beaten Microsoft to it.

According to the listings posted on Amazon, Office 2003 Professional Edition will cost £429.99, the Small Business Edition £384.99 and the Standard Edition £349.99. Upgrades cost £269.99, £234.99 and £199.99, respectively. The products will be available on 24 October, according to the site.

"These products are available to pre-order on at the prices stated. The release date is still an estimate at this stage," a spokesperson for Amazon said.

And when PC Advisor looked at the site today, the only information available was a price of £349.99 for Office 2003, with no release date published. An Amazon spokesperson said that this was all the information she had available, and she wasn't sure where the other pricing and release date details had come from, or where they had disappeared to.

Amazon's original detailed pricing indicates an increase for Office; the online retailer sells Office XP Professional Edition for £397.99 and the Standard Edition for £333.99.

Microsoft denies Office pricing will increase.

"We are aware of the Amazon posting. Pricing is not going up; pricing is unchanged," a Microsoft spokeswoman said. "A full price list will be available when we announce RTM [release to manufacturing]. We don't have a date yet for that".

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