Microsoft Corp. on Monday launched its latest Office Online site, www.Office.Microsoft.com, which is a repository of free Office user resources on the Web.
The site, which replaces the Tools on the Web site, paves the way for the new Office System 2003, which will be publicly available in October.
In May at the Windows Hardware Engineering conference, Microsoft officials hinted that the company was readying an online version of the "Watson" automated crash-reporting technology that debuted in Office XP.
Microsoft Watch reported at that time that Microsoft was working on a new user-assistance portal for Office that would build on its crash-reporting technology.
Chris Linnett, the Group Manager for Office Online, told eWEEK that the Redmond, Wash., company currently connects with some 25 million unique users a month through its Tools on the Web site, and that Microsoft now hopes the new site will allow it to make contact with, and receive feedback from, the 400 million Office customers worldwide.
The new site improved Microsofts ability to connect with customers "so they could tell it what they need, and we can respond by updating the site with the most critical information. There are now more than 100 staff members dedicated to updating the content and improving the user experience for Microsoft Office customers worldwide," he said.
"While existing resources like Tools on the Web have been very popular, the relevant information was often scattered across multiple, unconnected Web sites. Now, with Office Online, all of the resources have been organized into a comprehensive and easy-to-access site featuring content that is refreshed daily," Linnett said.
One of the advantages Microsoft is touting of the upcoming Office System 2003 release is the fact that the new programs in the Office System allow users to access content directly from task panes, meaning they will not need to leave the programs they are working in to get information.
But Linnett pointed out that those customers who are using older versions of Office back to Office 97 and who do not upgrade will still be able to access the information they need through the browser, as they have always done.