Microsoft Issues Visio 2002 Beta

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that a beta version of its upcoming Visio 2002 business-diagramming tool is now available for public evaluation. Visio 2002--the first version of this software Microsoft has developed inhouse since the company acquired the product in 2000--features a streamlined interface, improved visual impact, and an array of new features. Microsoft also has brought the product closer to Microsoft Office XP; Visio is a member of the Office product family, although it isn't sold in the box with any version of Office.

"With Visio 2002, we're continuing to push the envelope, creating even sharper-looking graphics that can help people visualize their business and explain it to others," says Visio cofounder Ted Johnson, now vice president of Microsoft's Business Tools Division. "We're also taking great strides toward making Visio work better with the Microsoft products our customers already use and generally more available to our customers' organizations."

Visio 2002 includes dramatic improvements to the product's graphics quality--smoother lines and text and more vibrant colors. The product also includes Office features such as personalized menus, as-you-type spell checking, and AutoCorrect, as well as the Answer Wizard Help bar and task panes found in the latest Office release, Office XP. Microsoft says its goal is to make Visio more accessible to the hundreds of millions of Office users.

"The alignment with Office wasn't perfect in Visio 2000," Johnson says. "Editing Visio diagrams from within Office applications was not as intuitive as customers expected. Visio didn't quite behave the way Office users wanted it to. Now that we're a part of Microsoft, our customers expect Visio to be a true Office family application."

With Visio 2002, Microsoft trimmed the product line from four editions to two--Standard and Professional. The beta version of Visio 2002 is now available for evaluation and deployment planning. The final version of Visio 2002 is expected in May, alongside the release of Office XP. Visit the Microsoft Web site for more information.

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