Office 2000 set to hit the street

Microsoft is gearing up for a June release of Office 2000 with a raft of partner announcements and a focus on the desktop productivity suite's Internet and componentisation capabilities.

According to several sources close to Microsoft and familiar with the software giant's plans, the company will announce at the Office 2000 Deployment conference in New Orleans that the next-generation desktop suite is set for release in the first week of June, most likely on June 4.

The company will also unveil deals with partners such as Unisys, which will announce its Unisys Office 2000 Solution, aimed at helping IT managers deploy and integrate the new suite.

The delay in shipping Microsoft's cash cow -- Office 2000 was originally scheduled for release this month -- has cost Microsoft financially, at least in the short term.

The company expects to report a $US400 million revenue shortfall for the current fiscal quarter. Microsoft is deferring that revenue -- which can be recognised only when customers redeem coupons for Office 2000 that they received when they bought Office 97 -- until the last quarter of its current fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Support specialist Unisys' offering -- which will employ standard templates and tools, well-defined milestones, and proactive project management -- will be available through Microsoft Solutions Practice, or MSP.

"With the release of Office 2000, Microsoft is delivering a true productivity tool, with new features that address cost of ownership, Web integration, and ease of use," said Gerry Gagliardi, president of Unisys Global Customer Services. "Unisys is uniquely qualified to provide the consultative services that organisations will need to quickly take full advantage of these new capabilities."

At the conference, Microsoft will push its Office Web Components, which are Component Object Model controls that publish spreadsheets, charts, and databases to the Web.

Also on tap at the Office 2000 show are the deployment of Office 2000 on Windows Terminal Server machines and the integration of Office 2000 with the SQL Server 7.0 database.

With SQL Server 7.0 wizards and tools, users will be able to build data-warehousing and analysis applications in Office 2000.

Office 2000 hit list

Microsoft has added new capabilities into its desktop suite.

* HTML file formatting

* Tight integration with SQL Server 7.0

* Spreadsheet, pivot table, and chart Web components* Data Access Pages* Self-repairing applications* Integrated e-mail

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