International Markets Drive New Growth of Microsoft Office

REDMOND, Wash., Oct. 17, 1997 — Just nine months after the launch of Office 97, Microsoft Corp. today announced that two-thirds of sales of Microsoft® Office now come from markets outside the United States, a significant shift from a few years ago. International sales from the 36 versions of Office 97 would stretch from Cape Canaveral to the Mir space station and back, three times over if you lined the boxes from end to end. This shift to worldwide market strength has developed as more businesses have rearchitected to compete in global markets and as more businesses outside the United States have developed a need for software.

To help companies succeed in a rapidly evolving world, Microsoft has modified its software development strategy to help ensure Office users across the globe can work together, while allowing for localized language and content preferences by country. IT managers are able to roll out an Office 97 standard to all their international offices, being confident that it will meet those offices’ unique needs. Leading-edge technologies in Office 97 such as natural-language processing (NLP) – the ability for users to ask their computers questions in plain language and receive assistance from their computer – have been developed for use in localized versions of Office 97. Organizations are standardizing on Office 97 globally to take advantage of the Office Assistant’s ability to answer user questions, and are able to count on the Assistant’s ability to understand and interpret unique user questions in each language.

“Our approach in developing Office 97 was to create a single, global product that could be customized to support more countries’ languages and customs than any software product in the world,”
said Jon DeVaan, vice president of the desktop applications division at Microsoft.
“Organizations that span international boundaries can use the same software to communicate and share information across borders and languages.”

The international success of Office 97 can best be illustrated in Japan, where revenues from Office 97 have spurred growth of over 50 percent for the Japanese Microsoft subsidiary this past fiscal year. Japan is now Microsoft’s second-largest market for Office, and sales of Office licenses alone make Microsoft the largest software vendor in Japan. Sales of more than 2 million licenses of the Japanese version of Word 97 have made it the new word processing favorite with Japanese users. In addition, Office innovations for the Japanese market like the Table Drawing Tool, which allows users to create and format tables with an on-screen pencil, have been so well-received that they have been included in the U.S. and other international versions of Office.

Microsoft is continuing its commitment to developing the best global software by supporting investments in areas such as local usability labs to fully understand local customer needs. By gathering rich data on local needs, Microsoft will be able to continue Office growth in markets outside the United States and enable businesses to communicate and operate more effectively on a global scale.

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