by February 7, 2003 0 comments

The new Outlook divides messages according to the most recent and the past

Office 11 is the code name for the next version of Microsoft Office, and it has some very interesting features. The focus this time seems to be on enhancing communication with MS Office and, therefore, there’s a tight integration with the XML standard. Most applications will be able to save in XML format making it easy to share them with others. This will make Office 11 a great front-end tool for developing XML-based applications as well.

Another major enhancement is the integration between Office and Sharepoint Team Services 2.0. Using these two applications, you can create workspaces on the fly, add other people to the workspace, use a messenger like interface to interact with each other and share the status of documents without even leaving the application. This can really help improve workflow. 

The Picture Library lets you make minor enhancements to your pictures before using them in a document

Another added feature is the research task pane. This is a great end user application, which can be used to search over many kinds of data sources, again with the help of XML. The data sources can be local, on the Internet, Sharepoint portals or even company databases. The research task pane comes with dictionaries in various languages, a thesaurus, encyclopedias and language conversion utilities. 

Now let’s get into some individual components. Word will also act as an XML editor besides doing regular word processing. Plus, it will have something called the reading pane, which will provide a comfortable, newspaper-style viewing option that uses columns. This feature is provided using the Cleartype font-rendering technology developed by Microsoft, which improves the font readability on LCD screens and flat-panel displays.

Outlook has undergone major improvements this time. The interface has been given a facelift and is much slicker and cleaner.

There’s space along the margins giving it a roomy feel. It uses the Cleartype font technology to make the messages crisper to read. The e-mail messages are sorted well and the search is also quite advanced. The inclusion of quickflags is an interesting and useful improvement. You can flag a message and a reference for it will be stored in a follow up folder to remind you later.

Another neat feature is that Outlook will adapt itself to the kind of network connection it’s running on, ie, it will download only mail headers if it’s on low bandwidth and the entire mail only when you click on it. Likewise, if there’s sufficient bandwidth, it will download the entire message. Another neat feature is the small messenger-style box that pops up at the bottom of the screen when a new message is received. It’s pretty informative, containing the sender’s name, message subject and a small preview of the message. Outlook also includes e-mail caching, wherein it caches e-mail locally while they are being downloaded. This can improve the synchronization process and improve downloading on erratic Net connections. 

Another notable feature is an application called the Microsoft Picture Library. This is more or less an enhancement to the preview pane in Win XP. It let’s you preview pictures and perform basic operations like brightness and color adjustments. A neat application to help you perform basic image editing functions before you use them in your document.

Besides these, two other applications expected to be a part of the new Office are OneNote and XDocs. Simply speaking, OneNote is a note taking application and XDocs is a form designer and reader application. These are not present in the first beta, so we were not able to check them out. 

Snapshot

Meant for Office users
Key
specs
: XML integration, reading pane in Word, new features in Outlook, better network connection
}management, 
e-mail pop-up windows, e-mail caching, new applications called OneNote and XDocs
Pros : Useful reading pane in Word, pop-up windows in Outlook for new mail are useful
Contact : Microsoft, Delhi
Tel : 26294650

The Bottom Line Will Office 11 be a worthwhile upgrade? It could be for the developer community as it will enable it to develop standards compliant applications owing to XML. For those who’re still using versions of Windows below 2000, there’s bad news–Office 11 will not work on them. With better collaboration and workflow features, it could be a worthy upgrade for corporates. Before we forget, for those people who were annoyed with Clippy’s sudden pop-ups in the middle of their work, there’s good news. We didn’t find it anywhere in the Beta. It didn’t surface even once during our testing. Maybe Microsoft has finally done away with it or has, at least, buried it somewhere in the software. We’ll know when the final version is released, which is expected sometime during the mid of this year.

PCQ Labs

No Comments so far

Jump into a conversation

No Comments Yet!

You can be the one to start a conversation.

<