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Jeffrey M. Harbers, 54; Developed Early Software for Microsoft

July 01, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Jeffrey M. Harbers, 54, who was instrumental in developing early versions of Microsoft Corp.'s successful Office business software, died June 24 in a single-engine plane crash near his ranch in Big Timber, Mont.

Saturday's flight was instructional, said James Struhsaker, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. However, Struhsaker said Harbers was a fully qualified pilot. The aircraft had dual controls and Struhsaker said he did not know who was piloting the plane when it crashed.

In the 1980s, Harbers -- Microsoft employee No. 67 -- led the engineering and development of Office, the immensely popular software for word processing, spreadsheets and presentations.

Office continues to be one of Microsoft's most successful products, earning billions of dollars for the company.

Harbers left Microsoft in the early 1990s to pursue ranching and other interests.

Before joining Microsoft, Harbers worked on the Alaska oil pipeline and at a research center in Antarctica. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1974 with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering.

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