New York, July 21, 1999 — What is bigger than a breadbox, comes in lime, strawberry, grape, tangerine, and blueberry, is now portable, and can use the newest software designed to be easier for all computer users? If this sounds like a high school joke, it’s not. It is, however, the shades and shape of Apple’s popular iMac and the new iBook consumer portable computer.
The alliance between Microsoft and Apple, formally heralded in 1997, has yielded Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition, a new product designed for owners of the iMac and iBook that will be available for a limited time. At MACWORLD Expo/New York, Microsoft also announced a new version of Microsoft Outlook Express 5.0, a popular program to manage e-mail, newsgroups and contact information.
“It is going to be a great complement to the iMac and iBook,” says Irving Kwong, product manager in Microsoft’s Macintosh Business Unit about Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition. Designed for Apple’s iMac and the iBook, Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition is the first application made for owners of the iBook. While Word 98 isn’t new — it was released in 1998 along with Microsoft Office 98 — it has new capabilities designed to help the home user complete projects.
“We’ve been working to bring fun and simplicity to home computing, and we’ve created something we hope will deliver this.” Kwong says. “I think people are going to like it.”
What home computer users will probably welcome is an improved ability to produce polished documents and manage information. Billed as the result of Microsoft’s focus to deliver simple-to-use software for home computer users, the Special Edition showcases the award-winning Word 98 Macintosh Edition.
“This special edition continues Microsoft’s goal of creating innovative products for the Macintosh that are simple to use and solve everyday problems,” says Ben Waldman, general manager of the Macintosh Business Unit at Microsoft. This new version of Word 98 also contains Microsoft’s award-winning Microsoft Outlook Express and Internet Explorer 4.5.
Qualities of Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition
Using Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition, people will be able to create newsletters, calendars, mailing labels, and other popular home computing projects with the help of step-by-step wizards that will walk them through the process. They will have access to 5,000 clip-art images, 100 new, professionally designed greeting-card templates and sample greeting paper.
Everything for creating newsletters and cards will be readily available. From their homes, Macintosh users will be able to tailor and customize templates, which offer different shapes, including shapes like a heart. Special effects — 3-D images with OfficeArt, fancy text with WordArt, and borders employing shading and style options–offer additional creative opportunities.
Since staying in touch with friends and family is one of the reasons most often given for buying a home computer, Microsoft believes users will find Word 98 Special Edition particularly helpful. Says Kwong, “People want to complete projects on the computer, and having templates helps make this easy. Overall, using Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition, home computer users will find a wealth of new features at their fingertips.”
Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition also uses drag-and-drop installation, eliminating the need for an installation program. The software in Microsoft’s Word 98 Special Edition “watches” as users work and offers suggestions to make them more productive. Additional Word 98 Special Edition features include Grammar Check and Spell It, which can be set to proofread during the writing process, speeding up error detection and correction. Users searching for the right word can access The Quick Thesaurus. Kwong emphasizes, “Special Edition is designed for fun, ease, and the iBook.”
Free downloads of Outlook Express 5.0 are planned to be available at its scheduled release in the fall; connect-time charges may apply. The overall price of Word 98 Special Edition ($99 after rebate) is designed to encourage businesses, schools, and home users everywhere to take advantage of the product.
A New Version of Outlook Express
In a separate announcement Microsoft unveiled a new version of its popular e-mail and contacts application, Outlook Express 5.0. According to Kwong, this newly updated version fulfills a Microsoft design goal.
“We designed the applications to be simple to use, with features that make e-mail hassle-free and help bring e-mail and contact information together,” Kwong says. “Outlook Express 5.0 helps users do this, solving common frustrations with e-mail.”
For computer users thwarted by setting up new accounts and switching e-mail applications, Outlook Express 5.0 promises an easy-to-use Account Setup Assistant. For those who are frustrated by junk mail — especially that which clutters up e-mail accounts — Outlook Express 5.0 offers a powerful Junk Mail Filter to identify unwanted commercial e-mail. In keeping with Microsoft’s goal of making computing even easier, there’s a plain-English error log, and automatic scheduled downloading for e-mail and news accounts.
“Outlook Express 5.0 is a vast improvement in simplicity,” Kwong says. “New users will be able to get up and running quickly, while advanced users will enjoy the powerful new features. This new version brings information together with MSN Hotmail integration and the ability to synchronize with 3Com Palm Organizers.”
The Next Stage
Word 98 Special Edition and Outlook Express 5.0 are consumer-oriented software applications that illustrate Microsoft’s expanded customer focus, which includes new users and people who compute at home. Industry figures note that more than 32 percent of iMac purchasers are first-time buyers–iMac has been driving growth for Apple in the past three quarters — and the interest surrounding the launch of the iBook suggests it will be as popular as the iMac. By combining Microsoft’s Word 98 Special Edition and Apple’s iBook, mobile users will have a simple-to-use solution for computing on the go.
Microsoft Word 98 Special Edition and Outlook Express 5.0 are new products evolving from Microsoft and Apple’s partnership agreement, first announced in August 1997. As part of a broad product and technology development agreement that year, the initiative called for Microsoft to develop future versions of Office, Internet Explorer, and other tools for the Macintosh platform, and for Apple to add Internet Explorer to the Mac.
To create the best Macintosh applications possible for Microsoft’s Macintosh customers, a separate business unit was created in January 1997 to focus exclusively on developing products for the Macintosh platform. Currently, more than 10 million customers use Microsoft products on their Macs, including such products as Microsoft Office and versions of Internet Explorer and Outlook Express for the Mac. It’s a working relationship designed “to provide the best products for our mutual customers,” according to Waldman. “This has been the goal of both companies: to do the right thing for customers.”
For those who might be surprised by this working relationship, Waldman reiterates that the perception of Microsoft and Macintosh being adversaries has always been “something of a myth.” Waldman adds, “We’ve been working with Apple from the beginning. There were parts of the companies that were in competition, but throughout all that we still worked together to bring great products to our customers.” The MacTopia Web site is a good example of Microsoft doing more for its customers, by providing information about Microsoft products for the Macintosh as well as news and information relevant to the Mac community.”
Waldman says he is pleased to lead the group developing applications for people using the Macintosh as well as furthering Microsoft’s partnership with Apple Computer. “It’s exciting to be delivering on our vision to create great Macintosh applications with innovative features that solve real, everyday problems,” says Waldman. “With Word 98 Special Edition and Outlook Express 5.0, we hope to continue delivering on this vision.”