UPDATE: Office 2010 release date has now been confirmed as 12 May 2010. More details are in our full Office 2010 review.

Microsoft has announced that Office 2010 has moved into the release candidate stage. The company said it has distributed the software to those in the technology adoption programme.

This means Office 2010 is now officially out of beta. Once it's passed the RC state, it will be released to manufacturing, then offered for sale.

The release candidate period will allow for feedback from partners, which can impact the final build. The launch is expected in June, probably close to the end of the month, as the company says it doesn't expect Office 2010 to have any big effect on third-quarter earnings.

Ramp up, shut down

In a statement, Microsoft said: "This is one of Microsoft's planned milestones in the engineering process; however they do not have plans to make this new code set available broadly."

As is to be expected, it offers new versions of Word, Excel, and Powerpoint. As of last month, the beta of the software had been downloaded two million times.

The news arrives just as Redmond's finest has announced that the free preview version of Windows 7 will shut down next month. Users will have until 1 March to spend money on the real thing, or their PCs will automatically shut down every two hours, with work not saved.

Via Seattle Times