REDMOND, WASHINGTON - Microsoft last week announced a further delay to its latest Office 2007 package of business programs, previously slated for launch in October.

The software titan cited a need to improve the product's performance and design after adverse feedback from business users testing the suite of word-processing, spreadsheet and presentation software.

The launch has now been put back to nearer the end of the year, the company said - a move that analysts fear presages yet another postponement of the release of Microsoft's long-awaited Windows Vista operating system.