Microsoft "Office 11" Beta 1 Fact Sheet
Microsoft "Office 11" Beta 1 Fact Sheet
Microsoft "Office 11," the code name for the next version of Office, currently in beta 1, helps create connected work environments and helps customers get more value from the technology they use every day. Based on support for Extensible Markup Language (XML), integration with SharePoint Team Services and enhancements to Outlook messaging and collaboration client functionality, "Office 11" will connect users to the people, information and business processes that are relevant to their work.
"Office 11" will help information workers access and analyze the data that's important to them whether they are traveling, working in the office or using a mobile device. Following is an introduction to some key functionalities being delivered in the beta 1 version.
Connected Business Processes
In today's workplace, where companies may have several partners, vendors and office locations, users face disparate islands of data that they must bring together to accomplish their daily tasks. Even in situations where people are primarily based in one location, they may still have multiple internal data sources, which can make connecting the right corporate information to the right user difficult. "Office 11" will streamline this information flow throughout organizations by leveraging XML to help people better access and process critical business information and thereby make more timely decisions.
Most people follow some type of process in their daily jobs, even if they don't think about their work in such a formal way. Microsoft Corp. has made support for arbitrary, or user-defined, and native XML a huge priority, and "Office 11" will lead the way in delivering the benefits of XML to information workers. Through this standards-based data format, information can flow directly to where it's needed whether the source is new or old, internal or external, and regardless of what platform or application it is coming from or going to. As a result, business processes will work better together and provide customers with results more quickly.
In "Office 11," Word, Access and Excel documents can be the front end for XML-based solutions and customer-defined schemas, allowing users to take advantage of a familiar interface and more powerful tools. XML support on back-end servers and Web services ensures that Office applications can integrate with any line-of-business data and streamline critical business processes. Customers benefit through easier data interchange between users and organizations, simple data repurposing capabilities, and rapid development of customized solutions by developers and even power users.
XML in Word. In Word, people will be able to use XML markup to add structure to documents containing large areas of text that incorporate a flexible layout and formatting. They will benefit from access to a fully functional XML editor, the ability to save and open arbitrary XML files directly in the application, the application of Extensible Stylesheet Language (XSL) transformations to fields, the capability to apply any XML schema, and the integration of Smart Documents (more details below).
XML in Excel. In "Office 11" Excel will provide XML support for tabular, largely numerical data that is best presented in a grid and used for calculations and analysis. In addition, users will be able to understand, read and process arbitrary XML, create arbitrary XML schema, edit XML data and apply XML-based structure to spreadsheets. These activities are made simple through the embedded Task Pane (more details below).
XML in Access. With "Office 11," XML support in Access will allow numerical or textual data stored in relational databases to be exported according to a hierarchical XML schema. Access also will support XML by allowing users to leverage their own XSL transformations upon importing or exporting data.
XML schemas. Power users of "Office 11" will appreciate the ease with which they will be able to consume and generate XML data files through customer-defined XML schemas, which can be viewed and used through the XML Task Pane.
Smart Documents and programmable Task Panes. XML will enable new solutions that allow users to quickly incorporate information from a variety of sources into Word, Excel and Access documents. Even simple XML-based help files can be created. A Smart Document Software Development Kit (SDK) will be included with "Office 11," and people will be able to use almost any programming language to develop solutions, from XML and Visual Basic to C# and Python. Actions and content that are relevant to a document or table can be displayed in the embedded Task Pane, helping streamline business processes.
Research Task Pane. This new Task Pane can be called up in one click and becomes a powerful end-user tool for searching many types of data sources, once again using the power of XML. Users can set the Research Task Pane to search the Internet, across SharePoint Portal sites, and even through corporate databases and services to find anything from financial and sales data to product images or contact information. By adding custom smart tags, people can also insert live data queries that are consistently refreshed with updated information. To complement all these rich possibilities, the Research Task Pane also includes basic resources such as a thesaurus, multilingual dictionaries, machine translation and access to an online encyclopedia. The Research Task Pane can be found in Word, Excel, Outlook and the PowerPoint presentation graphics program.
Microsoft has invested heavily in connecting people through improved collaborative technologies. "Office 11" will deliver a robust collaborative work space through tight integration with SharePoint Team Services 2.0 on the back end and an easy-to-use interface. Directly through the improved Office client, users will be able to work on a shared document, discuss its status in real time or update team information without having to open a separate application. And since low-level collaboration often occurs on the spur of the moment, users will be able to instantly create a shared work space whenever they need it.
Document Workspace. With "Office 11" and SharePoint Team Services 2.0, users can easily and intuitively create this ad hoc workspace to synchronize shared documents and make sure that each contributor can see others' changes. It appears directly in the Task Pane beside the document when it is opened, in context with relevant action items, contacts and materials. By streamlining these processes, the Document Workspace makes collaboration easy and intuitive.
Alerts. If the user wishes, "Office 11" can provide pop-up notices about real-time changes and updates to shared documents. Instead of having to leave their current assignment to check a SharePoint Team Services site or open the document to view the Task Pane, users will be able to request alerts based on specific criteria. For example, an alert could be sent when a shared document has been altered, something new has been added, or a task has been completed.
Instant messaging integration. Often a quick exchange of thoughts is all that is needed to make a decision about a shared document. By integrating an unobtrusive Windows instant messaging interface that is automatically populated with other contributors to the document, "Office 11" expands users' communication and collaboration options. Instant messaging makes it simple to see when the workers assigned to a document are online and initiate conversations with them directly from the Document Workspace.
Document protection. In corporate settings, users of "Office 11" will be able to lock down the formatting or the content in company document templates. For example, a company may want to lock down the text of the standard legal boilerplate on a contract template, or maybe lock down the formatting of a letter template to follow the company's brand guidelines. Document protection also could be applied in a collaborative environment in which users assign specific portions of a shared document to different people.
Meeting Workspace. With "Office 11" and SharePoint Team Services 2.0, the new Meeting Workspace will make it easy to develop agendas and share materials such as visuals, minutes and action items. As with the Document Workspace, the user can easily and quickly create this custom SharePoint Team Services site with one click from an Outlook meeting request. Teams will find that the Meeting Workspace provides a de facto online location for everything meeting-related, which saves customers from having to forward information individually. At the same time, the Meeting Workspace captures and organizes the information for anyone unable to attend.
Information Management and Control
As e-mail has become a critical communication tool, the volume of messages has grown. Unfortunately, the incredible growth of e-mail means that people are often overwhelmed with information. As a result, Outlook has become the centerpiece not only for communicating with others but also for managing critical business information. "Office 11" helps users regain control of their mailbox by making it easier for people to prioritize, read and act on the ever-increasing volume of information.
The updated Outlook has undergone a significant redesign, increasing the amount of information displayed on the screen by more than 40 percent. It also incorporates tools to empower users with mechanisms to improve the ways in which they manage their Inboxes and follow up on information. For example, Outlook in "Office 11" will deliver new ways for users to read e-mail, file it, track it and more. Employing these organizational tools will allow information workers to increase the speed with which they respond to messages without forcing them to fundamentally change how they want to use the software.
Reading Pane. The improved reading area will leverage ClearType display technology, subpixel positioning, paragraph spacing and line length to present users with an optimized reading experience. Research has shown that by displaying messages in a newspaper-like format (i.e., larger text, shorter lines and pages that fit exactly on the screen), Outlook will help users read e-mail more quickly. The simplified interface minimizes the chance of being distracted by other events happening on screen, resulting in a more natural reading experience.
Search Folders. In "Office 11," it will be easy for people to find the information that's most important to them. Outlook will introduce virtual folders that can be set up to contain specified messages such as those marked for follow-up or sent from the boss. The folders will make it easier for users to conduct and maintain searches because queries are persistent and ongoing; once the user has customized and saved a search, Outlook will continuously and automatically pull the relevant e-mail into that folder.
Calendar enhancements. Users will be able to view team and personal calendars side by side, making it easy to set up meetings and compare schedules.
QuickFlags. People use e-mail in a highly personalized manner. For example, many users treat their Inboxes as default task lists or storage for particularly interesting items. "Office 11" will help these users prioritize messages in a personal way. Users can assign e-mail a QuickFlag based on a personalized system, such as whether they need to follow up immediately or want to save the mail for later.
New ways of viewing and arranging e-mail messages. "Office 11" will help users quickly view and arrange their e-mail messages in ways that are most appropriate to the individual user and his or her way of working. Because many messages are part of large group communications, one new useful view lets users see e-mail messages arranged by conversation. People will have several other options for how they view their e-mail, such as the smart date (in which today's messages display the time and two-week-old messages show the date), QuickFlag or folder.
Cached mode. In "Office 11" Outlook will make mobile e-mail access, and even e-mail access over unreliable connections, far more viable by buffering users from lengthy synchronization processes and accidental disconnections. Because e-mail information will be stored in a local cache, a dropped connection will not disrupt a user's experience.
Bandwidth profile. Business travelers will appreciate the ability of Outlook in "Office 11" to roam among network connections with little or no interruption to their work. The new version will help them adapt to variable connection speeds because it automatically recognizes how fast the connection is and adjusts its performance accordingly. For example, on a slow dial-up connection, Outlook will only download the e-mail headers and will wait to download the e-mail contents until the user chooses to do so. At the same time, Outlook has greatly improved its access to POP servers, so dial-up users will see an increase in connection speed and a decrease in download time.