Microsoft to Unleash Host of Office 2007 Suites

By Peter Galli  |  Print this article Print

Microsoft is announcing 34 Office suites, programs, servers and services to meet the changing needs of its customers.

Microsoft on Feb. 16 is set to announce 34 Office suites, programs, servers, services and tools—13 of which are new—that form part of its 2007 Microsoft Office family of products, previously knows as Office 12.

Retail pricing for the comparable versions of the product has not been increased, remaining unchanged from the retail prices for Office 2003, John Cairns, senior director of licensing and pricing in Microsoft's Information Worker division, told eWEEK.

Click here to read about the user interface changes in Office.

Asked about the large number of offerings, Cairns said customers have been telling Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash., about the changing nature of their work and their new and diverse needs. "We believe these offerings will provide the flexibility customers need to meet all of their needs," he said.

There are three new offerings among the seven Microsoft Office client suites, two of which are specifically targeted at business users. The new Office Professional Plus 2007 has a number of enhancements, most notably the addition of server-enabled capabilities that allow customers to do things like document routing and approval, create electronic forms and pass those around, and publish spreadsheets more easily, he said.

It also includes 2007 versions of Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Word, Access, InfoPath and Publisher. On top of that, Microsoft has added the new Office Communicator application, its enterprise-ready instant messaging client.

"IM is becoming a mainline way in which people do work in the enterprise and customers have been asking for a secure IM client, and we are now offering them this," Cairns said. "This is the workhorse release for business users."

Microsoft, however, considers the new Office Enterprise 2007 suite "the biggest news for the enterprise" as it contains all the software found in Office Professional Plus 2007 as well as two additional applications: Office OneNote and the new Office Groove, which are aimed at to boost collaboration and mobility for users. "We believe that this will be the benchmark suite for those companies that take collaboration seriously," he said.

Click here to read about Steve Ballmer's thoughts on the premium versions for Office and Windows Vista.

Both of these Office suites will be available only through Microsoft's various volume licensing programs, and Cairns declined to comment on pricing in any way, not even to say whether the price will go up for those customers.

The Microsoft Office Professional 2007 suite will retail for $499, while an upgrade will cost $329.

Microsoft will also introduce a new offering in the consumer space, known as Office Home and Student 2007, which is essentially a follow-on to its current Office Student and Teacher Edition.

The product will no longer be sold to just students and teachers, Cairns said, but to any consumer who wants to buy it. Another change is that Outlook has been replaced with the OneNote application, as that will be more useful to students, he said.

"But we are keeping the non-commercial use restriction for the product, so it can't be bought for use in business. Also, at an estimated retail price of $149 and with the right to load it on three machines, which translates into about just $49 per install, this is by far our most affordable option," Cairns said.

Next Page: On the server side ...

On the server side, there are five offerings, three of which are new. The new server offerings include Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007, a solution to centralize control and management of electronic forms by allowing customers to use a common Web browser to interact with information.

"The way to think about the server lineup in general is that there are three broad servers we are already familiar with: the Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and the Live Communication Server, all of which are available today," Cairns said.

There are also new specialty new servers like the Forms Server, which gives a simple forms solution; the Microsoft Office Groove Server 2007, which will give IT organizations enterprise-class server software and tools to deploy, manage and integrate Office Groove 2007 across the enterprise; and Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007, a top-down portfolio management governance solution.

With regard to Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Cairns said, "We feel that with this we are doing for servers what we did for desktop applications 10 years ago, and that is really bringing together a lot of the different functionality that customers want around their productivity into this one mainline server."

This server product gives customers the ability to build portals, publish content to those portals (including document routing and approval processes), and search across servers, he said.

All of the server offerings are only available through volume licensing and pricing was not available. Asked why they will not be sold through retail, Cairns said most customers are those with IT staffs that can configure and manage these, and those are volume-license customers.

While Microsoft will again offer the CAL (Core Client Access License), which gives customers access to Windows Server, Exchange Server, Office SharePoint Portal Server and Systems Management Server, it is also introducing the new Microsoft Enterprise CAL.

This consists of the Core CAL plus new capabilities such as enterprise data searching, spreadsheet publishing, Web-based form creation and unified messaging, and includes new offerings from Microsoft Operations Manager, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server, Windows Rights Management Services and a security suite.

Read more here about Microsoft's acquisition of Groove Networks.

On the services side, consumers can buy the new Microsoft Office Live Groove for an annual subscription of $79, while its new Office Live service will range from free domain name, Web site and company e-mail accounts supported by advertising to more comprehensive services that will be available for a subscription fee, Cairns said.

Check out eWEEK.com's for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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