REDMOND, Wash., March 28, 2001 — Only a decade ago, creating newsletters and marketing materials in-house was a risky idea for many businesses. Who would risk one of their most important forms of outreach to an overly complicated desktop publishing program? Worse, who would rely on a system that produced amateur-looking documents? Microsoft created the first version of Publisher in 1991 to solve both problems. Microsoft Publisher 2002, due for release by mid-year, maintains the combination of easy-to-use tools and professional-looking results. Yet, the seventh version of Publisher also includes significant improvements. Katie Jordan, product manager for Microsoft Publisher, sat down recently with PressPass to explain why Microsoft didnt simply maintain the status quo with Publisher 2002.
PressPass: What distinguishes Publisher 2002 from previous versions of the product?
Jordan: A lot. We have added a wide range of tools and other conveniences from Microsoft Office — specifically, the new Microsoft Office XP, to make it even easier for businesses to create professional-looking print and online publications. In fact, there are so many new Office tools in Publisher 2002 weve branded it
“The Microsoft Office Desktop Publishing Solution.”
To help those who have little desktop publishing experience, weve added new design aides, including new Task Panes with visual previews, to take the guesswork out of choosing fonts, colors, and other design elements that need to work together. In addition, weve added additional commercial printing options — including the ability to print more than three spot colors, as well as support for process and spot color within a single publication. These and other enhancements make an even stronger case for calling Publisher the most complete publishing tool for those who want a product that doesnt take a masters degree in graphic design to operate or understand.
PressPass: According to independent reviews, Publisher has maintained a high customer satisfaction rating for years. How do you intend to improve that with Publisher 2002?
Jordan: Many of the enhancements made to Publisher are in direct response to customer requests. The new Office features reflect the desires of our users, most of whom also use Office. Weve also made it easier to work with Microsoft Word documents in Publisher for the same reason. By making it easier to share both learning and information between Publisher and Office applications, longtime users will get the convenience theyve requested, and new users will have an even shorter learning curve.
PressPass: What distinguishes Publisher from other desktop publishing programs on the market?
Jordan: Publisher occupies a unique spot in the non-professional desktop publishing category. It offers customizable business templates, design expertise, and complete page layout features not typically found in home-focused desktop publishing programs. For example, Publisher has fully customizable design templates that allow users to combine some 8,500 different layouts to create professional-looking sales and marketing materials. And, unlike professional publishing programs that can take much longer to learn and have a much higher price Publisher allows users without any design experience to create professional-looking documents. This combination of professional tools and ease of use is exactly what an increasing number of small- and medium-sized businesses, as well as branch offices of larger businesses, need these days. They dont see the need to spend the money to hire a professional designer to create their marketing materials, and they dont have time to master a complicated desktop publishing program. But they still need professional-looking documents to maintain the respect of customers and clients. Publisher has been offering this unique combination for nearly a decade.
Publishers close ties to Office and Word are additional vital distinguishers. The consistency in tools and user interface makes it easier than ever for Office users to turn to Publisher for page-layout tasks such as brochures, newsletters, catalogs, and other types of publications. No other desktop publishing tool allows users to transfer their experience with Office the same way Publisher does.
Another great new distinguishing feature is Save as Picture. It allows users to save design elements on a page or an entire page in a picture file format. This makes it much easier to share graphical elements among documents. If I create a masthead in one of my publications and want to reuse it in another, all I have to do is click on it and save it in one of several picture file formats such as JPEG, WMF, or TIF. I can use it whenever I need it in the future.
PressPass: Lets talk about some of the new features in Publisher 2002. How has Microsoft integrated features from Office and Office XP?
Jordan: The first change people will notice is that the user interface in Publisher 2002 resembles that of the new Office XP. This gives Publisher 2002 a cleaner, more refined look and adds toolbars, menus, and other popular productivity features from Office. The new Task Pane found in Office XP and Office applications essentially replaces the Wizard Pane found in previous versions of Publisher. It includes visual previews of various design elements such as layout options, design sets, and font schemes. The Font Schemes task pane shows coordinated sets of fonts that can be applied to any publication. Publisher also supports two of the Smart Tags found in Office XP. These tags are buttons that give users the option to alter changes they or the system have made. The Smart Tags included in Publisher include the Paste Options smart tag and the AutoCorrect Options smart tag for undoing automatic corrections.
In addition, users have asked for other elements, such as Print Preview, customizable toolbars, headers and footers, and more integration with Microsoft Word. All of these things have been added to version 2002.
PressPass: How has Microsoft changed the Web capabilities of Publisher?
Jordan: Weve just made it a whole lot easier to get materials created in Publisher onto the Web, to maintain these materials and to share publications in new ways. Publisher now supports HTML as a file format. This allows users to update Publisher Web-based files without losing the fidelity of the publication or having to perform extra steps to save the changes. In addition, users will also be able to send a Publisher publication as an email message –which recipients can view without having Publisher installed.
Publisher 2002 also offers 15 new Web-site templates that make it easier to create compelling-looking Web sites. With new Tools on the Web, users will be able to access additional design templates and other services from Microsoft bCentral, a suite of easy-to-use Web-based solutions that help businesses increase sales, improve communications, and efficiently manage everyday business processes.
PressPass: What distinguishes Publisher from Microsoft FrontPage?
Jordan: FrontPage is all about Web site creation and management. Publisher is about creating a full range of marketing materials and being able to publish them in any format, whether in print or on the Web. For example, Publisher lets a business reuse the text and images created for a newsletter on a handout, in an email or on its Web site. In fact, many businesses use Publisher to get their Web site up and running, because it is so straightforward and easy to convert preexisting materials into Web content. They can move this to FrontPage to provide the Web site management tools or e-commerce technology if they choose. The Web part of Publisher is just one part of the product.
PressPass: Apart from the new tools and Office interface, how can desktop publishers with little or no experience create documents in Publisher 2002 without difficulty?
Jordan: Since 1991, Publisher has led the way in helping business users with no design expertise create compelling marketing materials. The products ease of use starts with its design templates and its flexible wizard model for customizing templates. Publisher offers more than 25 different styles of businesses publications, including newsletters, catalogs, brochures, postcards, business cards, letterhead, business forms, Web sites, and flyers. These options are expanded by the more than 8,500 different page layouts. We’ve added 15 new design sets, increasing the total number of these Master Sets to 35. The sets allow users to create a shared style and look for all of their documents. In addition, the design expertise provided by the Color Schemes, Font Schemes, and Design Gallery assists users in achieving a professional look.
PressPass: Templates and font schemes may make desktop publishing easier and more consistent, but how can a business ensure its competitors arent using the same template?
Jordan: Customization and quantity are the keys. With some 8,500 template combinations to choose from, the chances a business will pick the same look as a competitor are slim. Plus, each of these templates can be customized by rearranging the placement of elements, or adding background fill colors, or inserting objects from the Publisher Design Gallery. Publishers new Font Schemes and Color Schemes allow users to adapt these templates and make them their own. After users adapt templates, they can save and reuse them as a unique template.
PressPass: Publisher 2000 was the first version to be fully compatible with the needs of commercial printers. How does Publisher 2002 compare?
Jordan: Weve expanded the commercial printing features and added new ones that are important to businesses looking for higher-quality printing options and printing in larger quantities. For one, Publisher 2002 supports up to 12 spot colors in documents that can be commercially printed. Now, users will have a much better chance of precisely duplicating their business logo or image by using multiple Pantone®
colors in publications. Users can combine process colors and spot colors within the same publication. This is important for publications that include color photographs, which use process colors, and the specific colors used, for example, in business logos. These often use Pantone spot colors.
In fact, the increased compatibility of Publisher with the needs of commercial printers is creating a whole new market for many printers, who can now easily accept files from businesses that use Publisher. Commercial printers, service bureaus, digital printers and copy shops interested in joining the PSPP can do so at http://www.microsoft.com/publisher/pspp/ .
PressPass: With Publisher 2000, Microsoft created a Printing Advisory Council (PAC) of commercial printers and prepress professionals to define the features in the product. Did you do something similar this time?
Jordan: We actually extended our outreach. After working so long with the PAC on Publisher 2000, we knew there were additional features they wanted in the product that we didnt get into Publisher 2000. Weve added a lot of these features, including support for the additional spot colors. We also brought PAC members back together to give us specific feedback about these new features.
In addition to the PAC, we had printers around the United States test Publisher 2000 to make sure it worked with their existing systems. As already mentioned, we also maintained the PSPP, which provides the latest version of Publisher to small and medium-sized printers so they can help customers who use Publisher. All told, more than 5,000 professional printers will receive free copies of Publisher 2002 and the prepress training materials.