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Microsoft Site Posts Digital Dashboard Toolkits

Microsoft Corp. today announced the availability of three toolkits to enable solutions for its Digital Dashboard strategy. Available on the Web are the Microsoft Digital Dashboard Starter Kit, Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard and Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5.

Microsoft designed these three technologies to make it easier for solutions providers and IT professionals to create digital dashboard solutions and offer new tools for collaboration in Microsoft Exchange- and BackOffice-based environments. A digital dashboard is a customized Microsoft Office 2000-based solution that consolidates personal, team, corporate and external information with single-click access to analytical and collaborative tools.

First announced at the Microsoft Tech Ed '99 conference last May, the Digital Dashboard initiative is a part of Microsoft's vision of knowledge workers without limits.

This initiative focuses on how technology can help deliver a company's knowledge resources to an individual's desktop to support better decision-making.

"This platform enables solutions that integrate information from collaborative, transactional and Web-based sources and deliver digestible knowledge nuggets to the user's desktop," says Bart Wojciehowski, group product manager for knowledge management at Microsoft.

The Digital Dashboard Starter Kit is a new resource designed to help solution providers and IT professionals build digital dashboards. With Microsoft Outlook 2000, a digital dashboard can extend a users' ability to view published data by synthesizing critical information into meaningful at-a-glance views and providing interactivity with both line-of-business and team applications. The Digital Dashboard Starter Kit includes five sample dashboards to jump-start customization, including ones for the healthcare, insurance and manufacturing industries, and sales and finance job functions. Also included are technical documentation and a tutorial for getting started.

Available for download are technology updates for Microsoft Outlook 2000 and BackOffice Server 4.5 that simplify the creation of collaborative applications and the deployment of centralized team work spaces. These technologies take advantage of the existing infrastructure of Exchange and BackOffice, and can be incorporated within a digital dashboard solution.

The Team Folder Wizard is an easy-to-use add-in for Outlook 2000 that automates the creation of commonly used Exchange-based collaborative applications. Knowledge workers can create Exchange-based public folder applications that include a shared contact manager, document library, shared calendar, discussion group and collaborative project. For organizations standardized on Outlook and Exchange, the Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard can help utilize the collaborative capabilities of their existing infrastructure.

There is a new team solution for customers of BackOffice Server 4.5 available for download. The Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5 takes advantage of the BackOffice product suite to provide a structured, user-customized team work space that serves as a central location for knowledge sharing. This technology improves team integration and communication by allowing end users, with IT control, to quickly create a secure, structured team work space to share and collaborate on documents, view team calendars and contacts, and analyze line-of-business data. The Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5 provides both out-of-the-box team applications, including those in the Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard, as well as the ability to customize or add third-party solutions.

The Digital Dashboard Starter Kit is currently available for download at www.microsoft.com/digitalnervoussystem/km/ddsk.htm. The Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard is currently available for download at www.microsoft.com/exchange/collaboration/tfwizard.htm. The Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5 can be ordered from the Microsoft BackOffice Server Web site for BackOffice Server 4.5 customers at www.microsoft.com/backofficeserver. -- Thomas Sullivan

About the Author

Scott Bekker is editor in chief of Redmond Channel Partner magazine.

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