COMDEX: Microsoft preps online collaboration tool

At Comdex this week, Microsoft unveiled plans for its SharePoint product, which will ship alongside Office 10 late in Q2 2001. Designed to compete with and Lotus QuickPlace, SharePoint is an online document collaboration tool that will likely be offered for free on the Web, perhaps as an Office eService, or with the Office 10 product itself. The company says that SharePoint--which just entered the public beta stage this week--will make it easier for workgroups to collaborate on Office documents, while providing discussion and Web-based file sharing functionality. Lead product manager Tom Bailey first showed off SharePoint Sunday night during the Gates keynote.

"\[SharePoint\] is going to ship at the same time that Office ships, in the later first half of next year," Bailey said during the keynote, "and it really enables teams to communicate and collaborate more effectively using the Web. It's a pre-built Web site that comes with a number of standard features, such as the ability to add announcements, events, and links. In the browser, I can also go out and have discussions and chats with people. I can store documents up here for easy collaboration with others. So, for example, if I want to upload a document, I can do that. If I were in Word, I could automatically save the document into this Web site from Word's File Open/Save as well, and there are a number of other integration points with Office. I can open up the document here, naturally, I can go back I can take a look, I can upload, I can use new templates here, I can import contact information from Outlook, I can import/export from Excel, and you can also create little applications."

SharePoint includes it own mini-applications, including one for surveying participants, which can be automatically sent to people with access to that particular document share. SharePoint can save the results of the survey and display them graphically if desired

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