Microsoft announced today that its business customers can now purchase the Office 2013 suites, applications, and servers through its volume licensing program. This includes Office 2013, Exchange Server 2013, Lync Server 2013, SharePoint Server 2013, Project 2013 and Visio 2013.

Microsoft says that retail and online availability of Office 2013 is expected in the first quarter of 2013. My sources tell met this will happen in the final days of January 2013.

“The new Office gives customers a comprehensive set of productivity tools to help them do their best work in a world of devices and services,” Sanjay Manchanda notes in a post to the Office News blog. “From the free trial of the new Office we delivered through the Customer Preview in July to our announcement in October that we had reached our RTM milestone, we've gotten a lot of valuable feedback that helped shape the final version.”

Manchanda notes the following highlights of Office 2013:

  • The new Office works beautifully with touch, stylus, mouse or keyboard to give you the ultimate productivity experience. It brings the familiar Office experience to a wide range of new devices and gives you the best experience on Windows.
  • The new Office is inherently social with real-time news feeds for people, documents and discussions, high-definition video conferencing, shared notebooks and virtual whiteboards.
  • The new Office provides security features without compromise, includes data loss prevention, compliance management, built-in malware protection, and flexible deployment options across on-premises and in the cloud.
  • The new Office is in the cloud. Coupled with new cloud services available next year, the new Office will save your documents to SkyDrive by default, and your personalized settings, templates and documents will travel with you.

Anyone can test-drive the new Office today via the beta versions of the Office 365 service.