Office XP to Be Key to Collaboration

Microsoft's Belluzzo cites smart tags, SharePoint tools as indications of company's move to services

With the release of its Office XP last week and with its Windows XP expected later this year, its a busy time for Microsoft Corp. Rick Belluzzo, Microsofts president and chief operating officer, spoke with eWeek Senior Editor Peter Galli last week from his Redmond, Wash., office about these releases and Microsofts vision going forward.

eWeek: Is this the last big Office shrink-wrapped launch well see, given your .Net services platform?

Belluzzo: I dont think so. I think the movement toward services will be incremental in terms of the capability of the product. With Office XP, weve really started to provide more services-based features with things like SharePoint and smart tags that are able to link and deliver service information within the shrink-wrapped product.

eWeek: What Web services are included in Office XP?

Belluzzo: Office XP has the capability, with SharePoint Services, to publish information onto a Web site and basically create a customized Web site for collaborating. This is one way of extending a traditional product into a services-based environment. Smart tags are able to link information to other services and Web sites intelligently.

eWeek: While Office XP has some elements of .Net, it still has a long way to go in that regard. What are the plans for an Office.Net, and will this be based on the NetDocs technology?

Belluzzo: Those plans are still being defined. Were going to ... talk about how we deliver more of a Web-based set of productivity tools, and those plans will take shape now that this release [XP] is complete.

eWeek: There has been criticism about the changes to your volume licenses. Customers are now required to upgrade to Windows 2000 and sign up for your new Software Assurance plan to avoid paying full price for future XP upgrades. What motivated Microsoft to make these changes?

Belluzzo: Its really about getting people onto the latest releases to be able to provide a more supportive solution. Its important for customers to move through the upgrades in a fashion that allows us to provide the kind of support we need to.

eWeek: Analysts and some customers using Office 2000 say getting them to upgrade to XP is going to be a hard sell. Do you have any specific plan to sell XP to those customers in a meaningful way?

Belluzzo: The pitch will be about the new level of collaboration offered and the opportunity to fundamentally change the way your organization works. These are the early steps toward the future of the way people will work in offices and enterprises, collaborating and sharing information.

eWeek: You are bringing new products to market at a time when the economy is slowing and personal and corporate IT spending is under pressure. Do you expect any fallout?

Belluzzo: We hope the combination of these product releases will put more energy behind the tech sector. Im pleased were in a cycle where were introducing lots of products important to developers, platforms and new devices.