RealTime IT News

Microsoft Sets Up Program for Office XP

Microsoft Corp. Wednesday offered a corporate preview release of Office XP, the latest version of its desktop application suite.

Through the Corporate Preview Program, more than 500,000 corporate customers may preview the improved productivity of what is supposed to be the software maker's most collaborative desktop application to date.

Prior to Wednesday, Office XP beta 2 had been sent to about 10,000 customers. After enough positive feedback, Microsoft figured it would dole it out to additional customers for $19.95 per kit and bill it as a corporate program. It may be purchased here.

Office XP is big on collaboration among the enterprise -- it comes with new e-mail-based document collaboration and annotation technologies, as well as a team Web site solution called SharePoint Team Services.

The corporate preview will include the usual Office suspects, albeit dated for 2002 -- Microsoft Word, Microsoft Outlook messaging, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, Microsoft Access database application and the Microsoft FrontPage Web site creation tool.

The corporate preview release may be used until August 31, 2001.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft descended on the Experience Music Project (EMP) interactive music museum in Seattle, Wash. with much fanfare to demonstrate XP OS.

While many reporters and analysts agreed that the release could be significant, most said that the Office upgrade is not nearly as important for Microsoft, which hopes to make waves with its new OS and software-as-a-service .NET initiative.

Ed Bott, a long-time journalist and resident Windows expert at About.com, said Office XP was, overall, greatly improved.

"Outlook in particular is greatly improved, with no more artificial distinction between Corporate/Workgroup mode and Internet Mail Only mode," Bott told InternetNews.com via e-mail Thursday. "More than ever, Office XP actually feels like a suite of interconnected modules rather than a bunch of similar-looking programs tossed in a box together."