Microsoft Corp. is engaging in some serious damage control following its announcement earlier this month that the company will drop two significant features from Office 10.
Lisa Gurry, product manager for Office 10, said Microsoft had been unable to get the Office Designer and Local Web Storage System features to meet the quality standards expected by beta testers and partners. As such, they had been dropped from Office 10, the next version of the Office suite, due to be released by the second half of next year.
Gurry said concerns raised by beta testers and subsequent examination by Microsoft indicated that the features were too unreliable and unstable to ship with Office 10. "These two features were impacting the stability of other features within Office, which is a product with a lot of different functionality and applications that all have to work together really well," she said.
While the Redmond, Wash., software maker hadnt made a decision about the inclusion of these two features in future versions of Office, it is possible that they could be completely discarded, Gurry said. However, they are the only features expected not to make it into the final product.
Office Designer is a Visual development tool, like Visual Basic or Visual C++, that would have been included in Office for the first time. It would have been used to create collaborative applications for platforms such as Exchange 2000, Gurry said.
"But developers can now simply continue to use other tools like Visual Basic and Visual C++ or any of the other development tools they are familiar with from Microsoft," she said. The Local Web Storage System would have allowed users to access those Office Designer applications offline.
A programmer and software engineer in New York, who is a user of Office 2000 and beta tests some Microsoft products, said Microsoft had only added more complexity to developers work with those features.
"If Microsoft is going to remove features because they make the product unstable, it should be recalling an awful lot of its software then," the programmer said. "Those of us who work with languages like Visual Basic have hit major problems when our applications encountered an unknown bug in Windows. Office 10 is the same and will clearly not be able to increase productivity by simplifying some tasks."
Some of the functionality of the two discarded features will be found in Outlook 10, the next version of Microsofts software that allows users to organize and manage their e-mail, calendars and contact lists, Gurry said.
This is not the first setback Microsoft has had with Office 10, which is in its second beta. A lot of functionality was lacking in the first beta.