Microsoft has used PC Expo in New York to provide additional details of its Office 97 suite, which is scheduled to become the linchpin of its groupware and Internet integration efforts beginning in the fourth quarter.
In order to take full advantage of the Internet, Microsoft will provide a search engine -- designed to run on Windows NT servers -- that allows Office users to search for documents written in both HTML and native Office formats.
In addition, non-Windows clients will be able to query these servers to request HTML documents or viewers containing copies of Office documents. This capability will complement another search and index engine, called the Text Object Model, that allows Office users to make linguistic-sensitive searches of documents residing on an NT server.
Once downloaded, these documents can then be organised by Intellisense agents, a set of heuristic programs packaged with Office, to create hypertext links across any document. This capability is designed to complement new groupware features that will be packaged with a new Outlook mail client for Office.
For the first time, Office will include support for time-sensitive applications, including a personal information manager and a journaling capability that serves as a personal project manager package.
This client will effectively replace the current Exchange client on Windows, and in the long-term the functions in this client will be made available on multiple platforms, thereby replacing Exchange on all the platforms Microsoft supports, says Dennis Tevlin, Microsoft Office group product manager.
For example, a feature supported in Outlook that is not currently available in Exchange is AutoPreview, which lets users see the contents of a message without actually having to open it. As part of its drive to support time-sensitive applications, users can expect Microsoft to add support for versioning to Office, allowing users to more easily keep track of changes made to the same document, says Tevlin.
With this capability, Microsoft expects to make Office the ultimate container for compound documents created in Active X and to eliminate the need for databases such as Lotus Notes to manage groupware applications.
Other key features in Office 97 will include:
*Visual Basic Applications edition support in PowerPoint and Word.
*A forms engine for Visual Basic.
*A FrontPage 2.0 upgrade that will feature improved tools for managing content, including the ability to drop Active X controls into a specific frame.
Microsoft can be reached at http://www.microsoft.com/.