Q&A: How New Microsoft Office System Transforms Information into Business Value



Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president, Office.

REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 19, 2003 — Today Microsoft announced completion of the core products in the new Microsoft Office System and released them to manufacturing, marking a critical step in delivery of the most powerful and valuable release of Office.

The Microsoft Office System is composed of industry-leading productivity programs, servers, services and solutions, such as the Microsoft Office 2003 editions, and the 2003 versions of Microsoft Office programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint® , Access, Outlook® , Visio® , FrontPage® and Publisher. The abilities in the core products can be extended in Microsoft Office System solutions by taking advantage of the productivity enhancing capabilities of Microsoft Office SharePoint™ Portal Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft Office Live Meeting and the three new programs: Microsoft Office InfoPath™ 2003, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003 and Microsoft Office OneNote™
2003. The Microsoft Office System is the result of one of the largest and most successful development efforts and beta tests of Microsoft products ever.

PressPass spoke with Steven Sinofsky , senior vice president, Office., about how the release of the Microsoft Office System will enable individuals and businesses to transform information into real business value.

Press Pass: What exactly is the Microsoft Office System?

Sinofsky: When you think about the Microsoft Office System, picture it as an ecosystem that represents a combination of familiar and easy-to-use programs, servers and services that are intended to help information workers address a broader array of business challenges. It encompasses the core Microsoft Office client

applications, as well as

FrontPage 2003, Visio 2003, Project 2003 and Publisher 2003, as well as our two new desktop applications, InfoPath 2003 and OneNote 2003. With the addition of servers, such as SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Project Server 2003 and the Live Communications Server 2003, users will be able to take advantage of deeper collaboration capabilities and communication tools like live chats within familiar productivity applications right from their PCs.

The Microsoft Office System represents a fundamental shift in the way we think about desktop productivity.

Although the individual components of the Microsoft Office System provide a great value to customers, the key to maximizing value lies in using the components as an integrated business solution.

For example, Microsoft Office System-based solutions systematically couple client-based and server-based applications to deliver better communication and collaboration efficiency, as well as access to relevant business data.

Before we

began building the Microsoft Office System, we

talked to

customers about what’s working and

not working for them in our products.

Press Pass: So, what are you hearing from customers? What challenges are they facing and how do you address them with the Microsoft Office System?

Sinofsky: Microsoft keeps a close pulse on customers via outreach with the Rapid Adoption Program, the Business Productivity Advisors, and extensive beta and usability testing. In talking with our customers, data overload

and access to information

was a huge problem. Many of our customers

want

help in effectively managing the data they have so they

can work more effectively, both in teams and individually, have access to the information they need, and focus on the work that will have the greatest impact on their success. Of course, they also want to be able to accomplish this with a minimal amount of training. The programs, servers and services in the Microsoft Office System work together to help

organizations

make better-informed decisions; streamline their key business processes by reducing unnecessary work; make teamwork easy and intuitive and enable their employees to have a deeper impact in what is often a demanding and stressful business environment. The fact that the components of the Microsoft Office System carry the Office brand means they will be easy to use and will not require significant training and support costs.

Press Pass: Considering the current financial climate, do you think businesses are going to be willing to invest in new technology upgrades?

Sinofsky: We

certainly appreciate the pressures

our customers are feeling in the current economy, and the tough criteria they must consider in making any expenditure decision.

But

in any economy,

successful companies

appreciate that sometimes the best way to save or make money is to spend money.

Yes,

deploying the Microsoft Office System would represent an investment for our customers but I would urge them to look at the benefits they gain in terms of increased productivity and improved business

efficiencies.

In a tight economy the need is greater than ever to

maximize productivity.

We can help businesses

do that

by providing them with technology that will lead to more effective teaming, streamlined business processes,

better access to information and higher personal impact.

So an investment in the Office System makes sense now, more than ever.

Press Pass: How do businesses choose the right Microsoft Office System solutions for their organizations?

Sinofsky: In order to choose the right components of the Office System, customers will first and foremost want to determine the

productivity challenges they are trying to address. The Office System is designed to offer customers a flexible set of programs, servers and services that can be integrated into a variety of business productivity solutions to meet diverse customer needs.

For example, we have a customer who was looking for a way to standardize the collection of key data gathered by their sales force. They wanted to be able to store the data in a single, easily accessible location, and they wanted to be able to report the sales data in a way that would allow management to aggregate the data for regional sales and customer trending analysis.

To meet this request, we matched the customer with a Microsoft industry partner who created a solution using Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003, which includes InfoPath, a new XML-based forms application for data collection. Using XML as a key ingredient, the customer was able to capture sales data in real time and share the data with key stake holders across the company via a Microsoft Windows SharePoint Services intranet site. The customer was able to use the information in a way that provided management with sales trends and other critical information, offering increased insight into their business and enabling them to make better informed decisions for their organization.

Whatever the productivity challenge businesses are trying to solve — increased collaboration, more effective information gathering, business process management, etc. — they can be confident that a flexible Office System solution is available tailored to their needs.

Press Pass: What types of opportunities are you offering Microsoft’s industry partners to grow their businesses?

Sinofsky: The Microsoft Office System offers tremendous opportunities for industry partners, be they ISVs (independent software vendors), solution providers or system integrators.

Microsoft offers tools and technologies to enable developers to implement and deploy custom solutions quickly and easily, as well as create sophisticated solutions that meet the demands of the most complex, demanding business environments.

Just one example of the opportunity for industry partners is in creating solutions that leverage the XML capabilities in the Office System.

The rapid growth of XML and its adoption as an industry standard for data exchange and integration present a compelling market for XML-based business solutions. Technology partners can use industry standard XML to create document and form-based solutions that unlock data, providing end users with additional insight into their business information.

Press Pass:
The Microsoft Office System appears to have many advantages for enterprises, but how will individuals users benefit?

Sinofsky: Microsoft Office has a long history as the industrys leading productivity software for individuals, whether they are at work, school or home. The new Microsoft Office System continues our commitment to productivity at the individual level and strives to make further gains.

A big focus for this release was to help individuals be more productive.

For just a few examples, weve done a redesign of Outlook that allows people to better organize the mountains of mail they are receiving today and helps fight spam with the addition of Junk Mail filters. Weve added an Information Rights Management capability to Office Professional Editions that lets you decides when someone can copy, print or forward an e-mail or document that you created. In PowerPoint, you can now choose to burn your presentation directly on to a recordable CD or DVD. The new Reading Mode in Word, and Research Task Panes in all programs help individuals easily access and use the information they need. OfficeOnline has been greatly enhanced to provide users with contextual help and much more. Those are just a few of the many product improvements across the Office System, and with these kinds of innovative enhancements, people can communicate and collaborate more easily than ever.