Microsoft Corporation has announced the general availability of its new Microsoft Office System with six product suites, eleven products, and four servers. The press kit includes references to several dozen promotional documents (press releases, feature stories, speech transcripts, white papers, and product information datasheets) describing the major components: Office 2003, Exchange Server 2003, Office FrontPage 2003, Office InfoPath 2003, Office OneNote 2003, Office Project 2003, Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Office Visio 2003, and Solution Accelerators. The controversial Windows Rights Management Services solution has been delayed, but is promised for delivery before the end of 2003. Enterprises prepared to pay for the new servers and "professional" editions of the Office software will be able to take advantage of XML and collaboration features. According to Microsoft's Bill Gates, the October 21, 2003 release includes the largest number of products ever released by Microsoft on a single day.
Editions of Microsoft Office 2003
"Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003 is the most complete personal and business productivity solution for enterprise customers whose employees access, gather and reuse business process information from multiple sources. Office Professional Enterprise Edition includes the professional versions of the Office 2003 core applications -- Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, Microsoft Office Outlook 2003, Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2003 and Microsoft Office Access 2003 -- as well as Microsoft Office Publisher 2003, Business Contact Manager and the new Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 tools for sharing information by means of creating rich, dynamic Extensible Markup Language (XML)-based forms. Customers also receive the professional-level functionality of Information Rights Management (IRM) content creation and authoring, support for customer-defined XML schemas, and SharePoint List Control. This edition is available through a Microsoft Volume Licensing agreement... Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 is an appropriate choice for users who need to work with large customers or partners but don't require InfoPath..."
Note: Some of the planned IRM features require Windows Server 2003 with IRM functionality, or access to a Web service that supports IRM. For example: "(1) Document expiration dates [use IRM to set an expiration date on your files after which other users cannot view or change them] and IRM organizational policy templates [create custom templates that help protect files by conforming to an organization's preferences. For example, you can use a "confidential" template to create files that cannot be printed, forwarded, or copied]... IRM (Information Rights Management) is a set of technologies built on the Windows Rights Management platform to deliver more control over sensitive information to document and e-mail authors. IRM-enabled documents can be consumed by any version of Word 2003, Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003 and Outlook 2003... The 'Professional-level' functionality includes additional features and solution functionality, including IRM content creation and authoring, support for customer-defined XML, and SharePoint List Control..." [see complete details in Microsoft Office 2003 Editions, SKU Fact Sheet, October 2003]
XML in Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003
"Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 is a new application in the Microsoft Office system that allows business users to streamline and control the gathering of information so it can be leveraged across business processes for maximum impact. Built from the ground up on industry-standard XML, InfoPath simplifies business process automation by allowing business decision-makers to define how they want information captured and entered, as well as how it will be used by back-end systems throughout the company.
Scenario: Organizational processes. InfoPath allows IT professionals and developers to create rich dynamic forms that aid information workers in capturing data across the organization, such as forms for human resources, help-desk requests, sales-data collection, procurement and inventory management.
Scenario: Workgroup collaboration. InfoPath also can be used to enable workgroup collaboration between smaller groups of information workers by allowing them to easily create and modify forms such as status reports and team surveys.
InfoPath provides a Microsoft Office-like environment in which users can fill out forms while the XML code is created behind the scenes. This allows users to work with structured documents without needing to know anything about XML...
WYSIWYG design mode: The InfoPath design mode makes it easy to customize existing forms or build a custom form from scratch using customer-defined XML schemas. It provides a view of the underlying XML schema, drag-and-drop insertion of controls, content modeling and editing, data validation, an interactive preview so users will know exactly how the form will behave and look when it is being filled out, and a publishing wizard that simplifies form deployment...
InfoPath provides 25 sample forms that are ready for immediate use or, in the design mode, can be customized to suit a specific business need. In addition, InfoPath provides sample forms and resources for developers and demonstrates how to integrate the forms into various business processes.
Programmability: For programmers who prefer to write and edit their own script, InfoPath includes a script editor, object model, editing controls and a clear text XML format for various form files, to aid developers in designing views, adding custom scripting, controlling the runtime behavior, and integrating custom forms directly with a server or Web service..." [adapted from Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, Microsoft's Information-Gathering Application, October 2003]
- Announcement 2003-10-21: "Microsoft Office System Launches With Record Number of Programs, Servers and Services to Boost Information Worker Productivity. Outside Study Shows Productivity Gains, High Value to Companies and Rapid Return on Investment."
- Microsoft Office System Launch Virtual Pressroom:
- "Microsoft Officially Unveils Office." By Mary Jo Foley. From MicrosoftWatch
- "Microsoft's Integration Could Up Customers' Costs. Office 2003 Users Wanting to Link Up with MS Server Software May Have to Pay a Price." By Stacy Cowley. In InfoWorld
- "No Rush To Move Into New Office." By David Becker. In CNET News.com
- "Oracle, Sun Take Swings at Office 2003." By Peter Galli. In eWEEK
- "Microsoft Announces Windows Rights Management Services (RMS)"
- "Microsoft Office 11 and InfoPath [XDocs]"