A Group Effort in Microsoft Office

Bill Gates and company officials discuss sweeping improvements in the Office 12 productivity suite coming this fall.
Microsoft plans to boost collaboration and content management in the next version of its Office productivity software, which includes the popular Outlook, Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications.

Noting that the world is shifting from manufacturing to service-based offerings, Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill Gates said it is becoming increasingly important for workers to collaborate across remote offices and time zones.

This is why Microsoft is planning significant changes in Office 12 to help workers adapt to today's ''always on, always connected'' computing environments, Gates said in a keynote at the company's ninth annual Microsoft CEO Summit. The theme for the two-day event is ''Pathways to Growth -- New World of Work''.

''Today's companies thrive when their employees can effectively collaborate, visualize and act on business intelligence and prioritize scarce time and resources,'' Gates said. ''To adapt and succeed in the 'New World of Work' today and tomorrow, they need advanced tools that will help them make the most of their unique talents, experiences and judgment.''

These plans include better collaboration and enterprise content management for Office 12, which corporate workers use to perform several business tasks from their personal computers, according to Chris Capossela, Microsoft corporate vice president.

The executive said Office 12 will have tighter integration between phones, Web portal sites, instant messaging and e-mail to improve the way workers share information, Capossela said on the company's Web site.

''We're also addressing the IT complexity that comes with enabling collaboration over corporate boundaries by making it easier to set up and use shared workspaces in Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server,'' Capossela said.

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