Office 11 Beta 1
Microsoft Releases First Beta of "Office 11"
Next Version of Office to Connect People, Information and Business Processes
Redmond, WA, USA. October 22, 2002.
Microsoft Corp. today announced the first beta release of its next version of Microsoft Office, code-named "Office 11." Expected to ship in mid-2003, "Office 11" is a significant step forward in the delivery of Microsoft's vision for improving information worker productivity. New technologies in this version of Office enable information workers to connect more effectively with people, information and business processes, thus enhancing the overall productivity of an organization.
"The key word to describe 'Office 11' is 'connected,'" said Joe Eschbach, vice president of the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft. "It's about connecting people with all the disparate sources of information in their work environment, with the processes necessary to complete their jobs, and with the other people they rely on to complete projects and make decisions. In short, it's about making them more productive by removing unnecessary barriers to success."
Connecting Business Processes
Organizations of all sizes face challenges managing their data because it is often stored without a common format in a variety of places (e.g., customer relationship databases and accounting systems). As a result, information workers within those organizations have difficulty accessing the data they need, or, if they can find it, the data is in a format unsuitable for their needs. This slows the organization's business processes as participants search, input, analyze and lay out the same information repeatedly, risking the introduction of errors to the data each step of the way.
"Office 11" makes connecting and using data simpler through its broad support for standards-based Extensible Markup Language (XML), enabling the exchange of any form of data across heterogeneous systems, platforms and applications. "Office 11" creates a more productive work environment by enabling information workers to access the right data when and how they need it, and then apply that knowledge within the familiar Office environment to better serve customers, partners and employees.
"The XML-enabling of Office was obviously a major investment and is a major achievement," said Tim Bray, co-inventor of XML and CTO and founder of Antarctica Systems Inc. "'Office 11,' built around an open, internationalized file format, is going to be a huge step forward for people, management, independent software developers and Microsoft."
One example of how "Office 11" takes advantage of XML is through innovative functionality called Smart Documents, which provide information workers with content specific to the document or spreadsheet in which they are working. For example, a person working on an expense report may need information from a variety of sources, such as an online credit card or cell phone bill or an organization's expense reporting policy. Smart Documents can make all this information available without requiring people to leave their Office applications. It also can streamline the submission of that information directly to the organization's back-end system, creating a more efficient business process.
Working with other people is a critical aspect of any business. Unfortunately, collaborating with others is not always as easy as it could be. Currently, information workers rely on inefficient methods that often lack a simple, yet rich environment which helps participants work together more effectively. Some of these challenges could include document version control, lack of a centralized storage location or ensuring that all the right people are involved in the process.
"Office 11" improves the ability to collaborate more successfully on an ad-hoc basis through tighter integration with Microsoft SharePoint Team Services, a solution that enables groups to collaborate, share documents and communicate with one another via the Web. For example, the new Document Workspace, shown in the Task Pane in Office documents, lets information workers edit a document simultaneously, and allows them to receive real-time notices of new changes and be connected directly to the other participants via Windows Messenger. The Document Workspace connects to a SharePoint Team Services Web site, where people have access to shared task lists, calendars, discussion strings and new Meetings Workspaces. As a result, information workers spend less time dealing with the complexities of the communication and collaboration technologies and more time working together.
"Office and SharePoint have provided an excellent platform for collaboration in the past," said Randy Schilling, CEO of Quilogy Inc., a premier professional services firm. "We're excited about the advances we're seeing in 'Office 11,' which will allow us to create increasingly innovative solutions to help our customers work together more effectively."
Connecting and Managing Information
E-mail has emerged as the primary conduit for communication in many businesses, and managing the ever-increasing flow of information can be overwhelming yet critical to an information worker's success. With "Office 11," the Microsoft Outlook messaging and collaboration client has undergone significant improvements to help people more effectively manage the large amount of information that crosses their desktops and to enhance the way they read, prioritize, file and track e-mail.
Also, because information workers aren't always working online or from the office, Outlook includes an improved mobile e-mail experience that is more consistent across the range of today's networks and data connections. By introducing a new cached e-mail system and intelligent connection settings, Outlook allows mobile workers to get to their e-mail more quickly and transfer between data connections with little or no interruption.
"Office 11" is scheduled to be available in mid-2003.
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") 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.