Microsoft will pull the plug on Office 2003 on the last day of June, after which it won't ship the suite to OEMs and system builders.

Eric Ligman, Microsoft's senior manager for small business community engagement, set the cut-off in a blog. "After June 30, 2007, OEM Microsoft Office 2003 will no longer be available," said Ligman. "Some authorised OEM Microsoft distributors may have some remaining inventory left for a short time after June 30th; however, Microsoft will no longer be shipping [it] to them."

Microsoft discontinued Office 2003 for retailers on April 30 for most versions, including English. Only a few Balkan and Baltic country editions are still being sold retail, and those will be halted on June 30. Existing inventories, however, might last long past any Microsoft-imposed deadline. Several websites, including, for example, have Office 2003 in stock.

Support for existing Office 2003 customers doesn't end until January 13, 2009, at which time the suite moves into what Microsoft calls ‘Extended’ support. That phase, which provides only critical security fixes to the software, runs another five years, to January 14, 2014.

Ligman also reminded Microsoft's corporate customers who buy volume licensed versions of Office 2007 that they can apply downgrade rights to install Office 2003 on existing hardware. OEM editions of Office, however, do not come with downgrade rights.

Microsoft has set the kill date for Windows XP, the dominant operating system when Office 2003 debuted, as January 31, 2008, for retail and OEM, and a year later for system builders.

See also:

Office 2007 review

Windows Vista review