Office 2003 to Come in Six Flavors

As Microsoft announces its six-SKU lineup for Office 2003, it decides to limit availability of its newest Office applications, OneNote and InfoPath.

Microsoft Corp. unveiled on Wednesday its planned six-SKU lineup for Office 2003.

The six editions on tap are Professional Enterprise, Professional, Standard, Students and Teachers, Small Business, and Basic.

With Office XP, Microsoft offered four SKUs: Professional, Standard, Students and Teachers, and Developer. Microsoft decided to drop the Developer Edition and instead target developers with a set of tools known as Visual Studio Tools for Office, due out this summer.

Microsoft has decided not to include its new OneNote application with any of the Office suite bundles it will ship later this year, sources told eWEEK on Tuesday. OneNote is a note-taking software application that allows users to capture, store and retrieve typewritten notes, pictures and diagrams on their laptop, desktop and Tablet PCs.

The other new application Microsoft has been developing as part of the Office System family of products, InfoPath, is also expected to be made available only to those large customers who have a volume licensing agreement with the company as part of the Professional Enterprise release. InfoPath is essentially a smart client that Microsoft has said will bring robust data-capturing and e-forms capabilities to its Office productivity suite.

Last month, Microsoft shipped the second beta for Office 2003 to 500,000 customers and partners globally. This beta contained, for the first time, new CRM (customer relationship management)-type features designed to attract more small and medium-size businesses, as well as other features to sway enterprises to upgrade.

Several of the SKUs will include a new feature called Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager, a personal information manager, as well as the first incarnations of digital rights management in the suite.

The second beta also included the Office 2003 suite, comprising Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, Access and the two new applications—OneNote and InfoPath—as well as FrontPage, Publisher, Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server 2.0.

The final versions of the product are expected to be released to manufacturing in June; commercial availability is slated for this summer.

The second Office beta was released just weeks before Sun Microsystems Inc. released the first beta of StarOffice 6.1 and followed the release of Corel Corp.s first beta of WordPerfect Office 11, which is expected to be available in North America by the end of this month.

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