Today, Microsoft issued the beta 2 release of Microsoft Office 2003, a family of productivity applications that Microsoft is now marketing as part of the Microsoft Office System. As first reported in WinInfo Daily UPDATE, the Microsoft Office System brand replaces the Microsoft Office Family moniker and encompasses traditional Office applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Access, as well as related applications including OneNote, InfoPath, FrontPage, Publisher, and Visio, all of which Microsoft has renamed to include "Office" in their titles. For example, Word is now called Microsoft Office Word 2003. Other applications and servers in the Microsoft Office System include Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server "v2.0" and Microsoft Project, the company says.
Microsoft will market Microsoft Office 2003 and the new Microsoft Office System applications as a set of coordinated tools that offer productivity benefits for organizations, the company says. "Today's work force is geographically dispersed, information-hungry, and constantly striving to be more effective and efficient," said Joe Eschbach, corporate vice president of the Information Worker Product Marketing Group. "The applications in the Microsoft Office System are central to addressing these problems, and by offering them all together, we are giving customers the opportunity to experience firsthand how deploying the Microsoft Office System can improve communication and collaboration across enterprises--small and large."
Microsoft says that more than 500,000 people will test Microsoft Office System Beta 2, making this the largest public test of its productivity software ever. The beta 2 evaluation kit is quite extensive, featuring a multisleeve portfolio with 15 CD-ROMs containing applications, demonstrations, product guides, overviews, and other information. Users interested in testing the new system can sign up on the Microsoft Web site beginning this week. The cost is $20.
Microsoft will ship Microsoft Office System products in mid-2003. The company hasn't yet announced pricing and exact product versions.