Microsoft Office Visio 2003 to Provide Customers With New Tools to Visualize Their Business

KANSAS CITY, Mo., May 20, 2003 — Today at the 57th Annual Quality Congress and Exposition (AQC), Microsoft Corp. announced the availability of the first public beta offering of Microsoft® Office Visio®
2003, its popular drawing and diagramming software. Available in Standard and Professional editions, Visio 2003 includes new diagram types, galleries and templates as well as the most common diagram types that support the principal quality control systems, Six Sigma, ISO 9000 and TQM. This will enable customers to easily document and analyze business processes, better understand how their organization operates, and increase efficiency. As part of the Microsoft Office System, new features and functionality in Visio 2003 also will enable customers to build powerful, connected solutions leveraging Microsoft .NET and XML Web services. With this release, Visio documents become smart clients that can be integrated with line-of-business applications and can be used to monitor business data in real time.

“The new features and enhancements in Microsoft Office Visio 2003 make it a comprehensive and essential diagramming tool for enterprise customers,”
said Joseph Eschbach, corporate vice president of the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft.
“With Visio 2003, we’re providing customers with a tool to visually navigate, understand and improve their business processes, ultimately helping them becoming more productive and efficient, and better able to respond to threats from competitors or to new-business opportunities.”

Providing Business Value in the Enterprise

Businesses can lose profits and miss opportunities through inefficient business processes or difficulty in understanding how their organizations operate on the front lines. Business process management, or BPM, helps companies reduce costs and increase efficiency by clearly documenting their current processes and then evaluating and improving them. The first step in a BPM initiative is to identify business processes graphically and analyze the data so managers and employees can determine where efficiency can be improved. Visio 2003 supports this crucial step by providing new business process diagrams, templates and tools, such as conceptual charts, decision trees, flow diagrams, process and procedural charts, and time and activity charts. All these features enable customers to outline and document business processes as well as create common business graphics to analyze and communicate complex systems.

“Business process automation and workflow will eventually need the involvement of many constituents across an organization to truly deliver on its promise,”
said Sandra Rogers, director of Web Services and Integration Software research at IDC.
“Visio has developed a product for building information relationships and workflow in a highly visual context, which should appeal to the more business-oriented contributor within a business process definition team.”

Smart Solutions That Adapt to Customer Needs

With its solid reputation as a valuable tool for technical professionals, along with new potential for business professionals, the Visio 2003 beta version is generating much anticipation. Customers that have been using Visio as a technical diagramming tool for years, such as Carrier Corp., a world leader in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems, have enthused over the possibilities presented by Visio-based smart client solutions, as well as for Microsoft’s renewed focus on improving the set of diagramming tools for which Visio is known.

“We are excited about deploying a solution built on Visio 2003 and the .NET Framework,”
said Jim Cullen, senior manager of Sales Tools and Software Systems for Carrier.
“It enables us to take advantage of the power of Visio as a smart client front end for an important line-of-business application. As a result of this project, we expect to streamline our sales process, increase productivity and enhance overall quality of our solutions. The out-of-the-box capabilities and connectability in Visio 2003 make it possible to provide integrated system solutions to our customers in substantially less time and that are of greater value than with current processes.”

Visio 2003 Provides an Extensible Platform for Partners

Microsoft has taken a two-pronged approach in creating Visio 2003, building on the application’s ability to integrate with business systems, while returning to its roots as a pure diagramming tool. The result is a stronger, more-flexible set of Visio tools to support a new array of possibilities for Visio diagrams.

In addition to XML and XML-based Web services, Visio integrates tightly with other Microsoft Office System applications and with the Windows Server System (TM) applications, including Windows Server (TM) 2003 with Windows® SharePoint (TM) Services, Microsoft BizTalk® Server and Microsoft SQL Server (TM) , enabling Visio to build on a legacy as an extensible development platform with new capabilities for the creation of smart-client solutions that draw on real-time information from these systems. In support of this, Microsoft is offering several resources for corporate developers and industry partners, such as an ActiveX®
control, a software development kit and the new Shape Studio, a developer tool that simplifies the development process for building high-quality shapes, so smart clients can be customized to suit nearly any business need.

“The flexibility of the Visio 2003 platform and its ability to take advantage of .NET Web services gives us the power to model complex financial concepts visually and at a high level,”
said Howard Keziah, chairman and CTO of Impact Technologies Group Inc., an ISV that is developing a solution for the financial industry that will enable planners to use realistic financial modeling to select the right product to meet the specific investment needs of their customers.
“For instance, customized Visio shapes representing financial objects, such as a stock option, can communicate with Web services to obtain current share prices and market volatility to enhance and update itself. Using this ability of Visio shapes to embody intelligence and interact with Web services, we’ve been able to create a genuinely smart client that is easy for financial planners to use. Since Visio is by nature a visual tool, the same interface used by the planner to create the financial model can also be easily shared and understood by customers so they can take better control of their financial planning.”

Beta Availability

Microsoft Visio 2003 will be available in Standard and Professional editions. Customers can sign up to receive the beta version of Microsoft Office Visio 2003 at for evaluation and deployment planning. The final release of the product will be available in summer 2003; pricing will be announced at that time.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq
) is the worldwide leader in software, services and Internet technologies for personal and business computing. The company offers a wide range of products and services designed to empower people through great software — any time, any place and on any device.

Microsoft, Visio, Windows Server System, Windows Server, Windows, SharePoint, BizTalk and ActiveX are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

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