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February 20, 2003--In this issue:
1. NEWS AND VIEWS
- Microsoft Releases Office 2003 Beta 2 to MSDN
- Microsoft Buys Connectix
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(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
* MICROSOFT RELEASES OFFICE 2003 BETA 2 TO MSDN
Yesterday, Microsoft temporarily posted on the MSDN Subscriber Downloads Web site several Microsoft Office 2003 (formerly code-named Office 11) Beta 2 downloads, including the suite's primary components--Microsoft Access, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word; OneNote 2003 (code-named Scribbler); InfoPath 2003 (code-named XDocs); FrontPage 2003; Publisher 2003; and SharePoint Portal Server 2003. However, the post appears to have been premature: After making the products available for a few hours, Microsoft pulled the downloads, stating that the company wasn't yet ready to release Office 2003 Beta 2. One problem is that Office 2003 beta testers hadn't yet received the Office 2003 Beta 2 code, which Microsoft finalized more than a week ago.
"We want to make sure we have all the materials ready, so that people have the best experience with the beta," a Microsoft spokesperson said. The company will widely distribute Office 2003 Beta 2 and will eventually provide the product through a public preview program. As first reported in WinInfo Daily UPDATE, Microsoft will market Office 2003 products as part of its so-called iWave campaign, which targets information workers.
I'll provide an extensive review of Office 2003 Beta 2 in the coming weeks, but a cursory look at all the currently available beta 2 applications reveals that they've matured since the beta 1 release. Microsoft has dramatically improved toolbar icons and overall fit-and-finish, giving each of the products a more polished look. New Permissions functionality ties Office documents and email to Microsoft Windows Rights Management (Windows RM) system, letting document makers determine how recipients can use their creations. For example, you can send a protected email that recipients can't forward, copy to the clipboard, or print. Outlook includes new spam-filtering functionality, although it appears to have no effect on IMAP or Web-based email accounts, which is unfortunate. And OneNote is now stable enough to use regularly, so I'll start giving it a workout during the regular note-taking sessions that dominate much of my time. If you have questions about Office 2003, please fire away.
* MICROSOFT BUYS CONNECTIX
Microsoft announced late yesterday that the company is buying the virtual machine (VM) assets of Connectix, which makes the excellent Virtual PC product line. Microsoft says that the Connectix technology will let Microsoft add VM tools that will "help customers consolidate server resources, thereby reducing hardware capital expenditures and operating costs." Microsoft purchased both the server and client versions of the VM technologies, which run on Windows server and desktop OSs and on the Macintosh.
"Our customers told us they wanted a best-of-breed \[VM\] solution that enables them to run their legacy Windows applications, even as they migrate to more modern operating system technology," said Bill Veghte, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows Server Group. "With this acquisition, we are committed to delivering this solution for our customers and providing the support they need both today and in the future."
Despite concerns from the Mac community that Microsoft's purchase of most of Connectix's assets means that the Mac version of Virtual PC is dead, Microsoft says that it intends to continue improving the Mac product. "Adding Virtual PC to its product portfolio is yet another example of Microsoft's continued commitment to the Mac platform," said Ron Okamoto, vice president of Apple Computer's Worldwide Developer Relations. "We're glad to see Virtual PC go into such good hands."
But the real reason Microsoft purchased the technology is Connectix Virtual Server, a beta product that will eventually help the company migrate customers off the legacy Windows NT 4.0 system. By virtualizing multiple NT environments on one server, Microsoft customers can continue to support legacy applications and services in a cost-effective way, the company says. Microsoft will release a preview version of Virtual Server on April 15; the final version is expected by the end of the year.
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