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Office 2000 "Web-Ready"

Monday marks the release date for Microsoft Corp.'s Office 2000, which will include new features that Microsoft hopes will increase the number of people who publish their own Web pages.

The four cornerstone applications of Office -- Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint -- all now support HTML as a native file format and all Office 2000 documents are Web-ready by default. Web server support is also integrated into the Office 2000 File Save and File Open dialog boxes allowing pages to be saved directly to a Web server.

Access and Excel users can publish their pages interactively by using Microsoft Office Web Components. The Office Web Components are a collection of programmable COM controls for publishing spreadsheets, charts, and databases to the Web. They are available for drag and drop from a toolbar. The Web pages Office builds contain HTML <Object> tags that refer to the ClassIDs of the Web Components.

When users browse a page with Microsoft Internet Explorer -- if the components are installed on their computer -- they will be able to sort, filter, enter values for formula calculations, expand and collapse details, pivot, and so on. If the components are not installed, they will see a hyperlink pointing to the Web Components installation program. Customers must own an Office 2000 license in order to browse a Web page interactively using the Office Web Components.

The Microsoft Office Web Components include a spreadsheet, a PivotTable dynamic view, a data source, and a chart.

The spreadsheet component provides a recalculation engine and a spreadsheet user interface in the browser. Calculations can refer to spreadsheet cells, any control on the page, or an URL via the Internet Explorer document object model.

The PivotTable dynamic views component enables the client to analyze information by sorting, grouping, filtering, outlining, and pivoting. The data can come from a spreadsheet range, from a relational database or from any data source that supports multidimensional OLEDB. Web pages with PivotTable components can also be designed in the Access Data Access Pages designer.

The data source component is the reporting engine behind Data Access Pages and the PivotTable component. It manages communication with back-end database servers and determines which database records can be displayed on the page. For example, if a Data Access Page displays customers and orders, the data source component retrieves the order records for the customer being displayed and manages the sorting, filtering, and updating of those records in response to user actions. It uses Microsoft Active Data Objects (ADO) and is programmable.

The chart component graphically displays information from the spreadsheet, from the PivotTable dynamic views, or from the data source component. Because it is bound to other controls on the page, it updates client-side. For example, a client can chart a PivotTable view that displays sales by region. Then, in the browser, pivot to display sales by product, and the chart will update automatically without round-tripping to the Web server.

The Office Web Components require Microsoft Internet Explorer Version 4.01 or greater. To design a component-based page with Access, or browse a page created with Access, you must have Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.0 or greater.

More information on Office 2000 is available at here.