Microsoft Project Linked to Outlook

A major upgrade to Microsoft Corp.'s project management software is expected to take advantage of tighter integration.

A major upgrade to Microsoft Corp.s project management software is expected to take advantage of tighter integration with other components of the companys Office suite of applications, particularly the Microsoft Outlook 2003 client.

Microsoft this week will release its Microsoft Office Project 2003 software to manufacturing, the first component of Office 2003 to reach that stage. The project management software will reach customers when the rest of Office 2003 ships, which is expected in October.

Integration with Outlook 2003 will allow Project users to update progress on Outlook Calendar entries and report their status to Microsoft Project Server from Outlook, according to Microsoft, of Redmond, Wash.

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. This link 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 resources are tentatively assigned for potential work. This version of the software will 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, Microsoft officials said.

Microsoft Office Project 2003 includes Project Professional 2003, Project Server 2003 and Project Web Access, which work together to create Enterprise Project Management Solution. The update includes a version of Project designed for stand-alone use.