One week before Microsoft chairman and chief software architect Bill Gates announces the global release of Office System 2003, Jeff Raikes, the Group Vice President of Microsofts Productivity and Business Services Group, sent customers an executive e-mail detailing the benefits of the updated productivity suite.
Microsoft executives were busy last week, working hard to drive interest in the upgrade, one of the companys cash cows, and to counteract a weary customer base. In his e-mail Raikes said that the end of innovation was "nowhere near.
"This is not to say its not a big challenge. Individuals and businesses all have different needs and different ways they work. But they all share a common goal: they want to leverage technology to help them understand, act on, share and communicate information—the most precious commodity in the world today."
Raikes also made clear that the Office team was already looking to the version beyond Office System 2003, where it would create new solutions and add Web services for increased collaboration and richer communications.
Customers had also consistently told him that while computers have dramatically increased their productivity and their ability to gather, analyze, share and act on information, their needs continued to evolve, he said.
"They want innovations that can help reduce information overload and impart new, competitive advantages. But there are still too many documents, too many papers and emails, and all of it is too hard to search through when something is needed quickly. Information technology today also must evolve to keep pace with the needs of a more mobile workforce, and the increasingly collaborative nature of information work," Raikes said.
In addition, customers wanted to be able to build end-to-end solutions on a foundation of easy-to-use, inexpensive commercial software and they want technologies that work together and pay for themselves, he said.
"Any new technology investments must show a positive return, not in five years, but five months—or better yet, five weeks," Raikes said.
While many of the advances in Office System would be obvious to users, one of the most profound changes were not as apparent, he said. The programs in the Office System Professional edition support XML, allowing information workers to save, organize and share new data as XML.
"It will be a lot easier to fill out forms, for example, or to find and reuse text or other data without re-entering it. Productive solutions will be built much more rapidly," he said.