Microsoft today said it will ship the first service pack for Office 2013 sometime early next year.

Office 2013 Service Pack 1 (SP1) will launch alongside similar service packs for SharePoint and Exchange, the two most important server-side software products that tie in to the Office environment, said Chris Schneider, a marketing manager on the Office team, in a brief Wednesday blog.

"Right. On. Time," said Wes Miller, an analyst at Directions on Microsoft, in a tweet today.

Miller was referring to the cadence of the last two Office SP1 updates: Microsoft delivered both Office 2010 SP1 and Office 2007 SP1 about 13 months after their respective original editions' debut.

Microsoft started selling Office 2013 at the end of January 2013. Assuming the Redmond, Wash. company sticks to the same 13-month timetable, it would release SP1 near the end of February 2014.

Traditionally, service packs -- whether for Windows, Office or any other product in the Microsoft portfolio -- have been little more than collections of past security patches and other non-security bug fixes.

But that's changed: Microsoft has done away with service packs for Windows, at least, and instead has moved to a faster development and release tempo. That's best exemplified by October's Windows 8.1, a major revision of the original Windows 8 that included numerous new features, revamped apps, user interface (UI) changes, and some backpedaling from design decisions that many customers couldn't swallow.

While Microsoft seems determined to retain service packs for Office, Miller expects that they will be quite different from past examples. "It will be 'Blue'-like," Miller said today in an interview, referring to the umbrella label some have stuck to Microsoft's faster release rhythm. "It will be the same sort of thing [as Windows 8.1], a bit of new features, a bit of updates."