More Than 20,000 Microsoft Partners and Customers Begin Evaluating Office 2000 This Week

REDMOND, Wash., August 10, 1998 — Competition in today’s global environment has dramatically changed the way people work. Not only are employees working more in teams and groups, they also have to work together quickly and flexibly.

Corporate intranets provide a central platform for workers to collaborate in this way, but until now corporate intranets have served only as a one-way medium for viewing information. Office 2000 gives people the tools they need to make the Web work for them. For the first time, users will be able to have a two-way Web experience where they can create, share and collaborate on Web documents without having to learn new skills or to rely on webmasters with advanced training.

Evaluation of Office 2000 begins this week, with the release of Beta 1 to more than 20,000 Microsoft partners, corporations and individual beta testers. Microsoft plans to release Office 2000 Beta 2 this fall.

“We’re excited to provide so many customers with Beta 1 at this early stage so they can begin evaluating some of the great new Web collaboration features in Office 2000,” said Steven Sinofsky, general manager of Office at Microsoft. “We’ve made some big investments so the Web will really work for our customers, without asking them to learn a host of new tools.”

Until now, most companies have assigned the task of posting documents to the intranet to a specially trained webmaster, who converts documents to HTML and then posts them to the Web. This creates a bottleneck as the webmaster becomes overworked. As a result, employees searching the intranet often encounter outdated information and broken links to other pages.

Office 2000 addresses this problem by making it as easy for any user to save a document as HTML as it is to save it to his or her hard drive. This frees the webmaster to focus on other areas, such as maintaining the Web infrastructure, while allowing employees to update intranet information

“Learning a new tool makes Web content creation unrealistic for many of our employees,” said Steve McNaughton, Computer Specialist at Quaker State Research Division. “Office 2000 will empower individual users to publish and share their documents on the Web. Because FrontPage 2000 has a familiar Office interface and many shared features, our employees will be able to easily manage their department’s intranet site without learning new skills. ”

Another problem employees often encounter is keeping track of documents when working on a team project. Workers often store documents in different places, including the company network server, their personal hard drives and as e-mail attachments, making these files difficult to find. In addition, various employees may circulate several versions of the same document, making it difficult to figure out which version is the most recent.

Office 2000 solves this problem by making the Web the central forum for working collaboratively on documents. Different team members can make comments and engage in threaded discussions within the document itself. These discussions can be viewed by anyone with a Web browser.

With Office 2000, HTML will become a companion file format along with the native Office binary file formats. This means that users will be able to save a document as HTML and retain all of the richness of an Office document. These documents can be “round-tripped,” or opened from the Web and edited again in Office, without losing any of their rich formatting. In addition, Office 2000 provides a Web notification feature that notifies users by e-mail each time a document they are working on has been updated.

Microsoft will provide customers with yet another tool by including FrontPage in a high-end version of Office 2000. FrontPage 2000 will provide users with a total Web solution for creating and managing the Web sites that will house the HTML documents they can now easily create using Office 2000. Microsoft and FrontPage 2000 are now integrated to include many of the same menus, toolbars, editing tools and other features customers are familiar with from other Office applications.

By incorporating FrontPage 2000 into the suite of applications, Office2000 will enable companies to keep their intranet and Internet sites up to date by making it easy for all workers to contribute information, not just a webmaster with specialized HTML programming skills. FrontPage 2000 also enhances security on intranets by giving companies the tools they need to set permissions on who within the company has editing and viewing rights of intranet content.

FrontPage 2000 adds to the Web collaboration features in Office 2000. For example, it allows for documents to be checked in or out from a Web server. If another user attempts to work on a file that is currently in use, Office 2000 notifies the user that the file has already been checked out.

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