NEW YORK — Microsoft Corp.
on Tuesday announced the general
availability of the new Microsoft Office System, the biggest upgrade for the
popular personal productivity desktop software in the company’s history.
The rebranded Microsoft Office System, which is version No. 11, consists
of six suites, 11 products, four servers, Solution Accelerators as well as
accompanying services. Microsoft defined the six editions back in April:
Student and Teacher Edition, Basic Edition, Standard Edition, Small Business
Edition, Professional Edition and the Professional Enterprise Edition.
Pricing for those six editions were announced when Office was released to
manufacturers in August.
Along with the core Office programs, the upgrade includes Visio,
FrontPage, Publisher and Project; two completely new programs, Microsoft
Office OneNote and Microsoft Office InfoPath; and four servers, including
the new Office Live Communications Server 2003 and Exchange Server 2003.
The launch comes at a time when Microsoft is trying to leverage its dominance in the desktop software arena to reinvigorate sales on the server side of the enterprise. To help in its effort to roll out solutions as opposed to just software, Microsoft Group Vice President Jeff Raikes hosted a breakfast for its so-called “Most Valuable Partners” — a community of Office-related developers and solutions providers that’s projected to swell to 400 in number in the near future.
But by some measures, the Redmond, Wash., software giant will face difficulties in persuading many of the 400 million or so Office users to upgrade in the wake of stagnant business conditions as well as customer satisfaction with existing versions.
To counter that complacency, Microsoft released research conducted by Navigant Consulting showing that information workers using the Microsoft Office System gained an average of two hours in productive time each week without working longer hours and
companies realized a median net present value of $4,000 per worker.
Microsoft said the research showed the solutions paid for themselves in an
average of just eight months.
“If you haven’t sensed it yet, certainly from the standpoint of Microsoft, we have a lot of excitement, a lot of enthusiasm. This has been a lot of hardwork, a lot of great work, by a lot of people certainly inside our company. But in particular, it’s an opportunity to represent a lot of key work by our friends of our company,” Raikes told some 200 attendees in a conference room at the midtown hotel.
To prepare for the release, Microsoft sent out more than 500,000 beta versions of the Office System bundle. More than 50 percent of the bugs submitted by beta users came from the MVP community, Raikes said.
Beta user feedback was greatly helped by the “Dr. Watson” feature inherent in Windows, which Raikes characterizes as “the most significant advancement to software reliability in the past decade.”
Raikes and other Microsoft executives including Microsoft Chairman and Chief Software Architect Bill Gates as well as key partners are scheduled to speak here later throughout the day.