Office 2003 Bids for Small Biz

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-10-20 Print this article Print

A key customer for Microsoft's Office System 2003, due this week, will be the small-business user.

When Microsoft Corp. announces this week the availability of its latest Office productivity upgrade, known as Office System 2003, a key target customer will be the small-business user.

The Redmond, Wash., company has already signed up some large enterprises as Office 2003 customers, including American Management Systems Inc., Graphic Packaging International Corp., Honeywell International Inc., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Virgin Entertainment.

But Kurt DelBene, corporate vice president for the Office Server Group, said that with this release, Microsoft is more focused than ever on the small-business space. As part of that effort, the company concentrated on making the user experience with Office 2003 as familiar as possible to reduce complexity and training.

Microsoft also focused on building in "best of breed" collaboration and support for online meetings, as well as deep integration with the client around core scenarios such as document collaboration.

Some enterprise users approve of the plan. Donald Hirsch, vice president of IT at AMS, in Fairfax, Va., said his company is deploying SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Windows SharePoint Services and Project Server but will migrate its staff to the entire Office suite later this year.

AMS, a global business and IT consulting group with 6,500 employees, 4,500 of whom are consultants, was looking for a next-generation collaboration environment, given the need for its mobile work force to have access to information wherever and whenever needed.

The company started deploying SharePoint Portal Server under Microsofts Joint Development Program three months ago, after evaluating a dozen or so products.

"We then narrowed that down to about three, and we did some rigorous evaluations of those other products," Hirsch said. "While we are a pretty strong Microsoft shop, and that was a factor in our decision as it integrates so well with the rest of the Office suite and is familiar to us, it was just easier to use and could be deployed more rapidly than the other contenders on our short list—which had back-end and user complexity."

Other users dont intend to upgrade any time soon. Some small and midsize businesses say they plan to upgrade only when they replace their hardware, and some are even reluctant to do it then.

Michael Hollander, MIS administrator for Pacific Communications Group, in Torrance, Calif., is one such customer.

"We run Office at work, and I use it at home, but when I went to order our next computer upgrade from Dell [Inc.]—we replace a machine every other month—it came with only the choice of Office 2003, which, of course, means that were going to have to train someone on the new software," he said.

Discuss this in the eWEEK forum.
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


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel