Microsoft Office System Released to a Half-Million Beta 2 Testers

REDMOND, Wash., March 9, 2003 — Microsoft Corp. today began distributing a half-million copies of the beta 2 version of the new Microsoft Office System to customers and partners worldwide. The Microsoft Office System is a set of programs, servers and services designed to better connect people with each other and their organizations, information and business processes, to transform information into business impact.

Developed to address the productivity challenges in today’s enterprises, large and small, the Microsoft Office System will enhance users’ visibility into business information so they can gain deeper insights, make better decisions, improve their ability to effectively collaborate, respond to change faster and increase their personal impact to make businesses more productive and successful. Companies and information workers interested in trying the Microsoft Office system can learn more at http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/.

Having reached the beta 2 milestone, Microsoft is inviting business partners and customers worldwide to begin evaluating new versions of the software. Seven core Office System products are provided in the beta evaluation kit, including beta 2 versions of the new Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook® , PowerPoint® and Access), the two new Office System additions, Microsoft Office InfoPath (TM) , Microsoft Office OneNote (TM) , as well as Microsoft Office FrontPage® , Microsoft Office Publisher, Microsoft Windows®
SharePoint (TM) Services and Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server “v2.0,” with final versions expected this summer. By collecting the beta products into one evaluation kit, Microsoft enables customers to evaluate the Microsoft Office System as a set of coordinated tools that, when applied together, result in productivity benefits for organizations.

“Today’s work force is geographically dispersed, information-hungry and constantly striving to be more effective and efficient,” said Joe Eschbach, corporate vice president of the Information Worker Product Marketing Group at Microsoft. “The applications in the Microsoft Office System are central to addressing these problems, and by offering them all together, we are giving customers the opportunity to experience firsthand how deploying the Microsoft Office System can improve communication and collaboration across enterprises — small and large.”

The Microsoft Office System marks significant progress toward Microsoft’s vision to create productivity software that quickly and easily evolves with today’s constantly changing business environment. The products were developed with four key design goals in mind:

  • Information intelligence. With XML in Office applications and the research task pane, people in an organization have better visibility into information. SharePoint Portal Server provides personalized access and delivery of business information.

  • Process management. With industry-standard XML support in Office applications, the ability to streamline the information-gathering process with the new addition of InfoPath, and the ability to create and graphically communicate smart documents, organizations are better able to adapt and respond to changes in the marketplace.

  • Effective teaming. A collaboration infrastructure with SharePoint products and technologies and integration with Office applications provides document and meeting workspaces, as well as the ability to search and find expertise in an organization. New tools such as Information Rights Management also empower people in organizations to collaborate more effectively.

  • Personal impact. With improved inking support for the Tablet PC, the introduction of the new digital note-taking application OneNote, critical improvements to make Outlook a better tool to read and manage e-mail, new intelligent junk e-mail filter tools, and a new focus on the mobile, the Office System will help individuals make greater contributions to their business.

Business Partner Opportunities

The release of the Microsoft Office System to beta 2 testing provides an infrastructure and platform that enables Microsoft business partners to build the next generation of information worker solutions that incorporate collaboration and portal capabilities and improved desktop tools. Business partners also can begin testing the new information and research services they will be able to offer as Web services through the world’s most popular productivity suite.

“Information is only empowering if a business or information worker can use it in the right place at the right time to make or influence a business decision. Today, that doesn’t happen often enough. Incredible amounts of content are lost or lie untapped around the world because businesses aren’t equipped to manage that information,” said Clare Hart, president and CEO of Factiva, a company working with Microsoft to deliver its global collection of news and business information from the new Microsoft Office System, as well as integrating it into other Microsoft platform products.

“The compelling value of the collaboration with Microsoft is in being able to address a real need among users of business information,” said Allen Paschal, president of Gale, a part of the Thomson Corp. “Searching for accurate, current and vetted information and news on companies — particularly private companies — is time consuming and often ineffective.

Delivering must-have information directly into Office applications will create a new experience for users, creating a real impact on productivity. This issue goes far beyond company profile information, and we are excited about how we can begin to solve similar problems with our vast array of content assets.”

The Microsoft Office System

Building on the tools already used today, the Microsoft Office System includes servers, services and new desktop programs designed to work together to help address a broad array of important business problems.

The Microsoft Office System applications available in beta 2 today for evaluation are these:

  • Microsoft Office 2003 connects people, information and business processes, making it easier for people to take more effective action and get better results. The core suite includes Microsoft Office Outlook 2003 messaging and collaboration client, Microsoft Office Word 2003 document authoring application, Microsoft Office Excel 2003 spreadsheet, Microsoft Office PowerPoint presentation graphics program and Microsoft Office Access 2003 database. Also included is Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager, which helps small businesses better manage their customer contacts and sales opportunities.

  • Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003 offers the tools people need to easily develop a sophisticated Web site. With professional designing and coding tools, people can design the Web site they want and code more efficiently, using the world’s first WYSIWYG XSLT editor and by developing rich Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server solutions.

  • Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 streamlines the process of gathering information by allowing users to create and complete dynamic forms and submit them to the XML-enabled systems and business processes that need the information.

  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 will enable people to capture thoughts and notes electronically on a laptop, desktop or Tablet PC and work more naturally to organize and search those notes.

  • Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 helps create professional marketing communications pieces using design tools, improved e-mail support, and Web authoring and posting features.

  • Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server “v2.0″ connects people, teams and knowledge across business processes. SharePoint Portal Server provides a secure enterprise business solution that integrates information from various systems into one solution, through single sign on and enterprise application integration capabilities, and provides flexible deployment and management tools. It facilitates end-to-end collaboration by enabling aggregation, organization and searching for people, teams and information. SharePoint Portal Server also enables users to quickly find relevant information through customization and personalization of content and layout in the portal and audience targeting.

  • Other Office System Products not included in the beta 2 kit, but fundamental to the Microsoft Office System, are Microsoft Project and Visio®
    . Microsoft Project consists of Project Standard, the desktop project management program for effectively planning, managing and communicating project information, as well as Microsoft Project Professional and Microsoft Project Server, which work together to provide an enterprise project management solution. Microsoft OfficeVisio 2003 is a diagramming solution that helps business experts and technical professionals understand and communicate complex ideas, processes and systems graphically so they can take more effective action. Visio provides a single diagramming tool for the entire organization, automates data visualization for more effective analysis, and offers unmatched extensibility for addressing individual and enterprise needs. Both products are on a different development and release cycle and will be available later this summer, after the other Microsoft Office system products are released.

Supporting Microsoft products and technologies that play a key complementary role in the Microsoft Office System include these:

  • Windows Server 2003 is a comprehensive, integrated and secure infrastructure designed to help customers reduce costs and increase the efficiency and effectiveness of IT operations. Building on the strengths of the Windows 2000 family, the new server platform helps customers extend existing resources while laying the foundation for building a new generation of connected applications and collaborative systems that improve business and information worker productivity. More information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/.

  • Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services (WSS), formerly SharePoint Team Services, is the engine for creating Web sites that enable information sharing and document collaboration, increasing individual and team productivity. It is a key piece of the Information Worker Infrastructure delivered in Windows Server 2003 and provides additional team services and sites to Office and other desktop applications, as well as serving as a platform for application development. WSS sites take file storage to a new level, from saving files to sharing information.

Pricing and Availability

Microsoft Office System products are scheduled for release in mid-2003. Pricing and availability are unavailable at this time.

About Microsoft Office System

The Microsoft Office System is an easy way to help more people use information to positively impact their business. Through a system of familiar and easy-to-use programs servers and services, users can connect people and organizations to information, business processes and each other — helping to ensure they derive the most value out of information. The Microsoft Office System consists of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office FrontPage, Microsoft Office InfoPath, Microsoft Office OneNote, Microsoft Project and Project Server, Microsoft Office Publisher, Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server “v2.0,” Microsoft Office Visio and Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, Outlook, PowerPoint, InfoPath, OneNote, FrontPage, Windows, SharePoint and Visio are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

For more information, press only: Rapid Response Team, Waggener Edstrom, (503) 443-7070, rrt@wagged.com

For more information on Office System products:

Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 Virtual Press Kit, http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/2003/onenote/default.asp

Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 Virtual Press Kit, http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/presskits/2003/infopath/default.asp

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