Microsoft ships Office 2000 SR-1, new eServices

As expected, Microsoft released Office 2000 Service Release 1 (SR-1) yesterday morning, using a new Internet-based installation routine delivered from a renovated Office Update Web site. The company also announced record deployment numbers for the popular Office suite; various versions of Microsoft Office are installed on more than 90 percent of computer desktops worldwide--and Office is the most popular development platform after Windows. With the release of SR-1, Microsoft Office now better integrates Office 2000 into Windows 2000 (Win2K)-based networks, although the primary purpose of this release is to fix bugs and address other customer issues. "Office 2000 has already surpassed Office 97's deployment rate," says Joseph Krawczak, Microsoft's Office group director. "With the availability of SR-1 and Win2K, we expect more customers to ... move to Office 2000."

Office 2000 SR-1 is available as a 26-to-40MB download, depending on your system configuration. If you're not on a cable modem connection, you may want to order the free CD-ROM-based version of SR-1 that is for users in the United States and Canada. (I reported Monday that there was a charge for this CD-ROM; that was the original plan, but Microsoft has since decided to make the release available for free.) The CD-ROM version contains additional tools, such as the Hotmail compatibility add-on for Outlook 2000 I covered in a previous WinInfo UPDATE. Expect to wait 6 to 8 weeks for the CD-ROM version, however.

If you're interested in Office 2000 SR-1, look for my comprehensive review on the SuperSite for Windows.

In a related development, Microsoft announced the immediate availability of eServices for Office 2000, which gives Office users a variety of Web-based Office services and tools. Two new services, Auto Update and the "Save My Settings" wizard, are particularly interesting.

Auto Update, which resembles the tool of the same name in Windows Millennium Edition (Windows ME), lets Office automatically keep itself updated via the Internet by installing product updates as they become available. "With a single click of the mouse, Auto Update automatically applies all of the updates that the user has authorized," said Lisa Gurry, an Office product manager. "Auto Update automates the process of keeping Office completely up-to-date, takes the guesswork out of applying product updates, and prevents users from potentially installing the same updates several times."

And with the "Save My Settings" wizard, all of a user's customized Office settings--such as user profile, custom dictionaries, and custom templates--are saved to a secure location on the Office Update Web site. Users can then access those settings from any Office 2000 system in the world and be presented with their custom settings. Auto Update, the "Save My Settings" wizard, and a host of other eServices are now available from the Office Update Web site

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