Microsoft Corp. will release to manufacturing Monday its Microsoft Office 2003 Project software, the first component of Office 2003 to reach that stage.
The designation means the project management software is feature-complete enough to be installed on CD and pre-loaded on PC hard drives. But the software wont reach customers until the rest of Office 2003 ships, which will happen sometime in the fall, according to Microsoft officials.
Office 2003 was originally supposed to be generally available this summer.
In this version, Microsoft Project is expected to take advantage of tighter integration with other components of the Office system, particularly the Microsoft Outlook 2003 client.
Integration with Outlook 2003 will allow Project users to update project progress on Outlook Calendar entries and report their status back to Microsoft Project Server directly from Outlook, Microsoft officials said.
Project 2003 also has tighter integration with Windows SharePoint Services—not a component of Office 2003, but considered by Microsoft to be a key enabling technology for the suite—which is expected to improve project collaboration by allowing users to secure and organize project-related information through version control, check-in and check-out, with better folder structures than the current version of Project.
In addition, Project 2003 users will be able to add resources to a project from within Project Web Access and highlight whether or not resources are tentatively assigned for potential work. This version of the software will also feature an expanded set of APIs, allowing partners and customers to more easily develop custom solutions and better integrate Project with line of business applications, MS officials said.
Microsoft Office Project 2003 includes Project Professional 2003, Project Server 2003 and Project Web Access, which work together to create the Enterprise Project Management (EPM) Solution. Also part of the Microsoft Office Project 2003 product lineup is Project Standard 2003, the version of Project designed for stand-alone use. Estimated retail pricing will be $1,499 for Project Server 2003, $999 for Project Professional 2003 and $599 for Project Standard 2003.
The Microsoft Office System consists of the 2003 editions of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003, Microsoft Office Project and Project Server 2003, Microsoft Exchange Server 2003, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server 2003, Microsoft Office Live Meeting 2003, Microsoft Office FrontPage 2003, Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, Microsoft Office OneNote 2003, Microsoft Office Publisher 2003 and Microsoft Office Visio 2003.
(Editors Note: This story has been edited since its original posting to correct the RTM date for Project 2003.)