The next version of Microsoft Office, currently known as Office 10, will be a bit lighter when it ships late in the second quarter next year, as the company is dropping a couple of controversial features that haven't tested well. Office Designer, an application for professional developers wanting to create Exchange 2000-based collaborative solutions, and the Local Web Storage system for Outlook 10 will not be included in the next version of the office productivity suite. After evaluating feedback from Office testers and its partners, Microsoft has decided that these features will not meet the level of quality and reliability its customers expect from Office. Thus, they will not be included in the Office 10 release.
"We are currently evaluating the future direction for the functionality provided in these features and will provide you with more information about this direction at a later date," a Microsoft spokesperson said late Thursday night.
For end users, the Local Web Storage System was an information store for Outlook data that provided the local counterpart to the Web Storage System built into Exchange 2000 and the upcoming "Tahoe" server application. This would have allowed Outlook 10 users to access all of their information when offline or traveling, and when reconnected to the network, all of the information would have resynchronized automatically with Exchange. But despite the loss of the Local Web Storage System, Outlook 10 will still offer a number of performance improvements. A new Cancel feature will enable users to cancel a request to the Exchange server if their network connection is disconnected, making Outlook 10 more resilient with regards to network and server disruptions. Server connections will be more efficient and resilient in Outlook 10, resulting in quicker mail downloads. And Outlook 10 will synchronize more easily with Exchange, using a new offline mode that supports all mail protocols (IMAP, POP, and MAPI) synchronizing at once. Synchronization setup, on a per mail account basis, will be enhanced so that users can choose which mail information (for example, headers only, or the entire mail) is synchronized.
Developers hoping to leverage Office Designer will still be able to target the Web Storage System in Exchange 2000 Server and "Tahoe" using Visual Studio, Office, ADO/OLE-DB, XML, and WebDAV as before, Microsoft says. And new services in Exchange 2000 will allow developers to easily add collaborative features to existing applications.
If you're waiting for my review of Office 10 Beta 2, don't give up yet: The suite is a massive set of applications that requires a lot of time, and I have indeed been working on the review for a few weeks now. I may break it out into individual mini-reviews of each application, and start it off with an introduction that describes the features that are general to all of the applications. I should have the first part of the review posted soon. Check the SuperSite for Windows for updates