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Office 11 Beta Runs Only on Windows XP, Windows 2000

The beta version of Office 11 Microsoft released last week will only run on Windows 2000 and Windows XP. Microsoft officials say there has not been a final decision on whether to freeze out Windows 9x and Windows ME users from the final version of the Office suite, which is scheduled to ship in mid-2003.

The story was first reported this week on BetaNews.com, a Web site dedicated to covering pre-release software. BetaNews quoted a message posted to the Office 11 beta newsgroup in response to beta testers who were discovering they couldn't load the product onto Windows 98 SE or even Windows ME, which shipped after Windows 2000.

"We understand that this decision won't be popular among all of our customers, but it allows us to create a better and more stable product," the message read. "There were a number of reasons for removing support for Windows 9x. As a number of you have noted, Windows 98 and Windows 98 SE are getting a bit old now.

"It also relates heavily to the push to improve security in our products. Windows 9x is inherently insecure. It also takes quite a bit of dev time to make our products work well on Windows 9x. We determined that it would be more effective to spend that time making our products work better on the more advanced platforms."

Office 11 requires Windows Installer 2.0, which is only available on Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 and Windows XP. Benefits of the updated installer, according to Microsoft, include limiting reboots and install times when applying patches, minimizing the need for users to re-insert CDs and allowing for reduced patch sizes.

Office 11 is the next version of Office after Office XP, which shipped in spring 2001. Microsoft has struggled to convince its user base to move from Office 2000 and earlier versions to Office XP and faces a similar struggle with Office 11.

Enticements in the new version will include a major interface overhaul of the Outlook e-mail client and XML integration across the product line. Current plans call for an attempt to synchronize the release of Office 11 with the next release of Exchange Server, code-named "Titanium." Used together, Outlook 11 and Exchange "Titanium" will reduce network traffic and improve the user experience in offline and interrupted situations, Microsoft says.

About the Author

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

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