Office 2007 Revs for Years End

Microsoft suites promise new ways to collaborate.

Before the end of the year, Microsoft plans to roll out 34 suites, programs, servers, services and tools that will form its new 2007 Microsoft Office system family of products, previously known as Office 12.

Retail pricing for the product remains unchanged from Office 2003, John Cairns, senior director of licensing and pricing in Microsofts Information Worker division, told eWEEK.

Asked about the large number of offerings, Cairns said customers had 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," he said.

There are three new offerings among the seven Microsoft Office client suites, two of which are targeted at business users. Office Professional Plus 2007 has a number of enhancements, most notably the addition of server-enabled capabilities to allow customers to do things such as document routing and approval, create and distribute electronic forms, 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 instant messaging client.

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

But the Office Enterprise 2007 suite was "the biggest news for the enterprise" as it contained 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 intense collaboration and mobility for users, Cairns said.

Both Office suites will be available only through Microsofts various volume licensing programs. Cairns declined to give any prices.

Some beta testers such as Marc Brown, CIO of Del Monte Foods, based in San Francisco, are looking to the products to boost productivity and make them more competitive. The company has been piloting workflow management, collaboration and individual productivity improvements.

"As early adopters of the new technologies, we believe Microsoft Office can help us boost business efficiencies and be more competitive," Brown said.

On the server side, there are five offerings, three of which are new, including Microsoft Office Forms Server 2007, a solution for centralizing control and management of electronic forms.

Microsoft Office Groove Server 2007 will give IT organizations enterprise-class server software and tools to deploy, manage and integrate Office Groove 2007 across the enterprise, while Microsoft Office Project Portfolio Server 2007 is a top-down portfolio management governance solution.

"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," Cairns said.

Cairns said the server gives users the ability to build portals and to publish content to those portals, the document routing and approval processes for that, as well as the ability to search across servers in the enterprise and publish spreadsheets and PowerPoint decks more broadly.

These server offerings also are available only through volume licensing, and pricing is not available.

While Microsoft would again offer the Core CAL (Client Access License), which gives customers access to Windows Server, Exchange Server, Office SharePoint Portal Server and Systems Management Server, it also introduced 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. It includes new offerings from Microsoft Operations Manager, Microsoft Office Live Communications Server, Windows Rights Management Services and a security suite.

2007 Microsoft Office system

New programs and services:

* Office Communicator Available through volume licensing

* Office Groove Available through volume licensing

* Office SharePoint Designer $299 retail

* Office Groove Enterprise Services Available through volume licensing

* Office Live Groove $79 annual subscription

* Office Live Free and subscription-fee options