Microsoft has announced that its next-generation Office 2013 has been released to manufacturing, though the company admits that most of us won’t actually get hold of a copy until the beginning of next year. 

With coding and testing complete, the Office 2013 is now at a point of Released to Manufacturing or RTM, effectively meaning it's good to go.

Touch will be at the forefront of Office 2013 as Microsoft caters for an influx of Windows 8 tablets and touch-controlled PCs and laptops, while cloud synching and revamps to Word, Outlook, PowerPoint, Excel and OnePoint will all occur with added features.

But before we get too excited, Microsoft has slated “general availability” for Q1 2013. A preview of the software will be available on Windows RT devices from 26 October when Windows 8 is released.

Some business customers – Office 365 Enterprise and Volume Licensing subscribers – and developers will get an early look at Office 2013 from November onwards, but the majority will have to sit tight.

If that’s too bitter a pill to swallow, Microsoft is at least promising a free upgrade to Office 2013 for customers who purchase Office 2010 from 19 October onwards.