REDMOND, Wash., Aug. 29, 2000 — Microsoft Corp. today announced the next version of its best-selling Office suite and confirmed that the new product’s first technical beta has been sent to a select group of customers. The next version of Microsoft® Office will be a major product release that will deliver breakthrough productivity and communication solutions to empower individuals to experience and control the full functionality of the product, improve team communication and collaboration, and expand solution opportunities for organizations on the Office platform. It will also be the first Office suite to begin delivering on the Office.NET vision by integrating Internet-based services, enabling users to be more productive using Office with the Web.
“This is the most ambitious and significant Office product release ever,”
said Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of Office at Microsoft.
“The breadth of customer solutions we are delivering in this product exceeds any previous version of Office, and the innovations we are making will truly enhance the way people work and communicate.”
The next version of Office will simplify the way people work by empowering any individual to become a power user and giving them greater control over the way Office works. Key innovations include the following:
Smart Tags. New Smart Tags appear on the screen while individuals work, providing useful information for completing tasks or accessing data. Smart Tags offer AutoCorrect, AutoFormat or Paste Options that give individuals control over automatic functionality in Office and help them accomplish their work more quickly. Smart Tags also can help individuals easily access information from the Web or other Office applications. For example, if a contact’s name is typed in Word, a Smart Tag will appear and provide the option to automatically insert the contact’s address from Outlook® ; or a stock quote could be typed into Microsoft Excel and a Smart Tag would appear with an option to access information about the stock from the Web.
Task Pane. New Task Panes offer views that expose a wide range of new and popular features to help people easily identify and use more of the product. Examples of feature sets presented in Task Pane views include functionality for finding and creating documents and copying and pasting, using styles and formatting, and new search and translation tools.
Speech. New speech recognition technology enables individuals to create and edit documents using either dictation or voice command.
Hotmail and MSN Instant Messenger integration. Integration with Web services such as the Hotmail® Web-based e-mail service and MSN® Instant Messenger enrich the communication options for users of the Outlook messaging and collaboration client.
Word Count toolbar. This new toolbar automatically counts words, characters, lines, pages or paragraphs and continuously presents the current word count without requiring users to access the Tools menu.
The next version of Office also will provide a safety net through new features that automatically save and recover individuals’ work, so they can continue working if a system or application error occurs. Key data recovery innovations include the following:
Application and document recovery. Office documents are automatically recovered if a file, application or system error occurs. Individuals are given the option to automatically restart the application and open the recovered document so they can continue working. Excel, PowerPoint® and Outlook will join Word in offering AutoRecover, which automatically saves documents at timed intervals so individuals can easily save and back up their work on a regular basis.
Application error reporting. Individuals now have the option to report problems directly to Microsoft or to a specified group within their organization, and receive personalized Web-based help or e-mail on how to fix the problem.
Improving Team Productivity
The next version of Office will enable teams to work together more effectively by dramatically improving the way people collaborate on documents and by providing an exciting new Web-based application for managing team projects, information and activities. Key innovations for improving team productivity include the following:
Document routing for review. The collaborative document creation and review process has been dramatically improved: Individuals can now send documents for review directly from individual Office applications and easily manage the workflow process of comparing and merging multiple documents. Editing, accepting and rejecting changes can be easily managed through a new user interface. Changes made by multiple reviewers can be merged easily into one complete document.
Team workspaces. Team workspaces are easy-to-create Web sites that improve the way teams manage information and activities. Using a Web browser, team members can create contact and task lists, event calendars, announcements, libraries for storing documents, and surveys. Teams can also have newsgroup discussions and be notified when content on the site changes. Team workspaces are available for Exchange 2000 or for Windows 2000 Server, and can be hosted by Internet service providers or within a business.
Expanding Solution Opportunities for Organizations
The next version of Office will provide organizations with a rich platform for creating Web-based business solutions that improve the accessing and reporting of critical business data, enable tight integration between Office and other applications, and deliver tools to build collaboration and workflow solutions that help teams work together more effectively. Examples of innovations that enable Web-based solutions include the following:
Native XML support. Excel and Access now support XML as a file format and can easily import and export XML data. This enables organizations to build solutions that integrate Excel or Access as the front end to XML-based data structures to improve corporate reporting and analysis.
Extensible Smart Tag architecture. Smart Tags are built on an extensible architecture so that developers can create new Smart Tags to help Office users gather information from the Web, such as accessing real-time sales or inventory data while working in Excel.
New tools for workflow and collaboration. A new visual development tool that creates Web-based and collaborative solutions is also included with the next version of Office. This tool targets Exchange 2000’s Web Storage System and works with Office and the document management server currently code-named
Web Components. Improved Web Components enable Excel users to easily publish interactive Web pages that have data contained in spreadsheets, pivot tables and pivot charts.
Familiar development environment. The next version of Office includes additional support for developers, including Visual Basic® for Applications 6.3. Office’s familiar development environment makes it extremely easy for developers to create custom solutions that build on Office’s robust platform. Individuals can easily work with these applications through the familiar Office user interface.
In addition to new solutions capabilities, the next version of Office will help organizations better deploy and manage the product. Investments being made in this area include the following:
Improved deployment tools. Significant improvements to the Custom Installation Wizard and Custom Maintenance Wizard provide administrators with additional options to customize and manage Office.
Easy to deploy. The next version of Office will be very simple to deploy because it won’t require new hardware upgrades and will have complete file format compatibility with previous versions of Office.
Reliability, data recovery and security features. Reliability, data recovery and security features will make the next version of Office easy to manage and a reliable infrastructure for desktop productivity. In addition to the reliability and data recovery features, there are significant new security features in the next version, including a central security panel; advanced password encryption; higher default security settings for Excel and PowerPoint; the option to not install Visual Basic for Applications with Office; and the functionality of the Outlook Email Security Update.
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