Office 2000 beta rolls out

Microsoft yesterday sent 20,000 Beta 1 copies of Office 2000 to testers for evaluation as the company gears up for next year's expected release of its popular business suite. Officials at the software giant said Office 2000 -- which, unlike its predecessors, supports Internet and Hypertext Markup Language components -- will be ideal for customers on corporate intranets.

Microsoft yesterday sent 20,000 Beta 1 copies of Office 2000 to testers for evaluation as the company gears up for next year's expected release of its popular business suite.

Officials at the software giant said Office 2000 -- which, unlike its predecessors, supports Internet and Hypertext Markup Language components -- will be ideal for customers on corporate intranets. The software will make it simple for any user, as opposed to only webmasters, to create, view or work on Web-based material. The upgrades include Word and Excel documents and PowerPoint presentations.

"If someone knows how to save a document onto their hard drive, they can now post it to a Web page without special tools or the need to learn a new set of skills," said John Duncan, Office 2000 product manager.

A high-end release of Office 2000 will come bundled with FrontPage 2000 to help users create and manage Web sites, according to Priscilla Mistele, product manager of the upcoming version of Microsoft's Web site authoring and management software.

Office 2000 Beta 1 testers will participate in FrontPage 2000's beta program, which begins this fall. Pricing and availability have yet to be determined, said Duncan, although he didn't dispute analyst estimates that a release would appear sometime in the first quarter of next year.

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