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Beta 2 of Office 2003 Released

Microsoft released the Beta 2 version of Microsoft Office 2003 to customers and partners on Sunday in preparation for a mid-year release. About 500,000 copies are being distributed.

As it did with Office XP, Microsoft faces a tough sell against its own massive installed base, as users have generally found sufficient functionality for their needs in the Office 97 and Office 2000 versions of the suite. Microsoft is trying to get users to upgrade for enhanced XML functionality throughout the product group, and Microsoft has made another attempt at making it easier and more attractive to set up team-based workgroups.

SharePoint Team Services were introduced two years ago with Office XP. This time the Office suite's users will be able to leverage Windows SharePoint Services available in the Windows Server 2003 operating system to set up team workgroups. But using those will depend both on enterprises having the unreleased Windows Server 2003 installed and having added the Windows SharePoint Services, which are being released as a free add-in after the operating system ships.

The Microsoft Office Family has been given a more professional name, the Microsoft Office System, in the 2003 generation. The beta kit includes seven components:

  • Microsoft Office 2003, which includes Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint and Access.
  • Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, the new product for creation and completion of dynamic forms for XML-enabled systems and business processes.
  • Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, the new note-taking application.
  • Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003, featuring a new XSLT editor and integration with Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server.
  • Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server version 2.0, which is a temporary name for the updated version of Microsoft's intranet server.
  • Microsoft Office Publisher 2003.

    Not included in the Beta 2 kit are the Microsoft Project client and server versions and Microsoft Visio. Project and Visio are on a different development cycle, but Microsoft plans to release them later this summer after the other Microsoft Office System products ship.

  • About the Author

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

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