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Microsoft Divvies Up Office 2003 Editions

Microsoft Wednesday unveiled how it plans to bundle applications with the various editions of its forthcoming Office 2003 productivity suite, in the process revealing that the new InfoPath application will only be available through the Professional Enterprise Edition, available through the company's volume licensing program.

OneNote, the company's new note-taking application which is geared primarily toward Tablet PC users, will not be included in any of the bundles.

"Microsoft talked to customers at home, at schools, in small businesses and in large enterprises about their unique needs in software and functional needs, which drove the changes in the Microsoft Office System 2003 product lineup," a Microsoft spokesman told internetnews.com. "Some changes include expanded functionality and value-added applications for volume licensed business customers, new small and medium business applications and technology, and new capabilities and expanded use for students and teachers in the consumer market. We hope that the different versions of Microsoft Office System 2003 will bring different customers the latest productivity tools that fit their needs and the way they want to purchase their software."

The company said it decided to reserve InfoPath for its Professional Enterprise Edition customers, because the application -- an XML authoring tool designed for end-users which allows them to create XML-enabled forms which leverage the capabilities of documents -- is primarily targeted at the enterprise.

"This is an application designed to help teams and organizations gather and share information," the spokesman said. "It's a smart client for XML Web services and allows information workers to connect to middle-tier and back-end systems for more efficient streamlining of workflow and information-gathering processes. Our primary scenarios target teams and organizations in the enterprise. Microsoft listened to customer feedback and added this to the Professional Enterprise suite sold through volume licensing, which is the primary way large and medium organizations will obtain office."

He added, "Small businesses may see benefits leveraging InfoPath in organization and small team scenarios, depending on their capabilities (such as via hosted Windows Sharepoint Services sites), so customers can also buy it as a stand-alone application. There are also very specific limited scenarios where InfoPath makes sense for home users and students. Again, these customers can purchase InfoPath as a stand-alone application."

Microsoft has divided the Office 2003 suite into six different editions: Professional Enterprise Edition, Professional Edition, Small Business Edition, Standard Edition, Basic Edition, and Student and Teacher Edition.

The Professional Enterprise Edition, available only through the Volume License and Academic Volume License programs, will be the most complete, featuring professional versions of Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, PowerPoint 2003, and Access 2003, as well as Publisher 2003, Business Contact Manager 2003, InfoPath 2003 and value-added solutions capabilities such as support for customer-defined XML schemas, Information Rights Management (IRM) content creation and authoring.

Office Professional 2003, available through retail, OEM and academic channels, will be identical to the enterprise edition, except for the lack of InfoPath.

Office Standard 2003, available in the retail channel as well as all volume licenses, will be stripped down to include Outlook 2003, Word 2003, Excel 2003 and PowerPoint 2003.

Small Business 2003 will be available through retail, OEMs and Open Volume License, and will feature Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, PowerPoint 2003, Publisher 2003, and Business Contact Manager 2003.

The Basic 2003 Edition will be available only through the OEM channel, and will feature Word 2003, Excel 2003, and Outlook 2003.

Finally, Student and Teacher 2003 Edition, available through the retail and academic channels, will include Word 2003, Excel 2003, Outlook 2003, and PowerPoint 2003.

In addition, the company will offer a number of the applications as stand-alones through the retail, OEM and Volume License channels. The applications will include professional versions of Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access 2003, as well as InfoPath 2003, FrontPage 2003, and OneNote 2003. The company also said Outlook 2003 will be offered with Exchange Server 2003 customer access licenses (CALs).