As consumers and businesses anticipate Microsoft's next generation office software, one research group is contending that back-end infrastructure upgrades may cost organizations over $50 billion.

Microsoft's Office 2007 features the document editor Word, and spreadsheet creator Excel, and most notably the email client Outlook.

With ability to integrate voice into email, check meetings and schedules by phone, and receive notifications directly to mobile devices, the new Outlook platform promises to be more mobility and efficiency. But to utilize these features, organizations will need to upgrade current email infrastructure software to Microsoft's Exchange 2007 server, a complex and costly move.

Previous releases of Exchange dealt more with improving the scaling and robustness of Exchange, noted Peter Christy, co-founder of research firm, IRG. Exchange 2007 incorporates compelling functionality for users like advances in telephony and mobile integration and value for the groups managing mail as well.

The firm released a study on Friday indicating that migration will result in several industry wide implications, forecasting cumulative organizational spending to exceed $50 billion.

The move to Exchange 2007 is complex and enterprise managers will reconsider every aspect of their email systems as they re- engineer their messaging infrastructures, said John Katsaros, co- founder of research firm IRG.

Microsoft indicated that its Office 2007 business software suite will be released to manufacturing (RTM) in a few weeks.