Office XP in stores now...

  05/31/2001 7:17:00 PM MDT Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

The Office Experience has launched.
  Part of the Windows XP family, Office XP, the post Office 2000 was released today. Windows XP will launch October 25th, with the Microsoft XBOX following Launch November 8th.

  Most Microsoft Office users, or 55% are still using Office 97, mainly because Office is so good, and doesn't stale easily.

  Office XP's new features, though great improvements, may not be enough for most companies and users to upgrade immediately, though most will eventually.

  Many unenthusiastic reviews are not stopping my friends at Microsoft from showing Office XP's use with great reviews such as the announcement in New York City from Bill Gates himself. Backed by, and appearing with Bill on stage were Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Marv Adams, CIO of Ford, and citing testimonials from Lexis Nexis, Turner Broadcsting and UPS, among others.

  It's no wonder why the paper world is quickly becoming irrelevant in business as a mountain of paperwork just can't compare to huge databases where getting to a particular document is as easy as a few keywords.

  Microsoft is looking to large companies to upgrade to this new version; small businesses tend not to switch until they upgrade their PC hardware. "The No. 1 target audience is people with Office 97 and earlier versions," said Jeff Raikes, group VP for the business productivity division. Is there a killer feature? "There's no single thing," he said. "It's the rich set of things users can do."

  Over 100 local launches of Office XP are happening across the U.S. and in major overseas centers. While Gates is in New York, CEO Steve Ballmer heads up a similar event in Chicago; Raikes has top billing in Washington, D.C.; Steven Sinofsky, senior VP in charge of Office, is headlining in London.

  Worldwide, with over 135 million people using the Office suite of "productivity" applications: Word for word processing; Outlook for e-mail; Excel for spreadsheets; and PowerPoint for presentation slides, Microsoft Office is nothing short of the market dominator. According to Microsoft, as many as 100 million more illegal users have it on their desktops. In the last two quarters of 2000, Microsoft's desktop applications revenue declined by 2 percent year-on-year. During the latest quarter, that trend was reversed with a 7 percent year-on-year increase to $2.4 billion, the bulk of that coming from Office licenses.

  Last week, speaking at the company's annual CEO summit, Gates commented on upgrades like this Office XP. "Intellectual property has an interesting problem, which is that it lasts forever," he explained. "And so it's not like Coca-Cola where you say, 'OK, you liked your last Coke; now would you like another one,' or razor blades that wear out."

  Just as I've said before, Office just doesn't wear out, and on this Bill Gates said; "Your own installed base is serious competition," Gates continued last week, "You have to always do better."

  To sell this product to enterprises then, Microsoft is touting business-to-business enhancements. Ford's Adams appears onstage with Gates because Ford is using the XML support built-in to Office XP to notify its suppliers of its auto parts needs and have them respond. Similarly, Lexis Nexis and UPS are creating their own customized "smart tags" so that subscribers or customers with Office XP can easily access relevant data. Gates also cites Turner Broadcasting, which is using a "special edition" feature of Office XP that runs on a Windows 2000 Server to enable teams within a company to easily set up ad hoc Web sites to share documents, calendars and other content. (More than 500 teams on Microsoft's campus are already using this feature.)

  Recognizing that this makes a recipe for slow sales, Microsoft recently moved to ensure a steady stream of upgrades across all its enterprise products. Imminent changes to the terms of its enterprise volume licensing agreements mean that companies that want continued support and good deals when it comes time to upgrade must do so through a continuing contract: in essence they have to buy into constant upgrades. The licensing changes take effect in October. That could spur early sales and make Office XP a bigger success than the under-achieving Office 2000.

  Office XP will run on the Windows 98 and later operating systems or on Windows NT 4 and later for business users. (If you're still on Windows 95, Microsoft's message is clear: get over it.) At the retail level, it's priced at $239 for a standard upgrade from any earlier version. Office XP Pro, which includes the Access database, costs $329; and the Special Edition, which includes the new SharePoint collaboration service, costs $449.

  If you'd like to learn more about Office XP, visit

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