Microsoft Office 2003 launched

by Volker Weber


Received a new box* today: Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003. What's inside? Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Access, Outlook and Business Contact Manager for Outlook. Outlook is the only software in this package that was significantly upgraded from Office XP. And Outlook is probably the last software package that is ever going to be installed on any productive system at vowe's magic flying circus. :-)

That does not mean that I am not going to put Office 2003 through its paces. But I still don't see any good reason to upgrade my production system from Office 2000, which was the last version that did not force you to activate through registration.

Microsoft is suffering from this behaviour. There are many shops out there which are still on Office 97. Some have upgraded to 2000 or XP, but that is hardly because the old packages did not have enough features. Adding new features will not help Microsoft's case since the majority of customers don't even use those in the old packages. Clippy was also not very helpful to put them to more use. Also, customers are not going to let MS get away with yet another file format, which forced the upgrade from 95 to 97.

So Microsoft is changing the game plan. Office 2003 does not add new features to Word, Excel or PowerPoint. Instead Microsoft is pushing software development on top of the "Office System". Tightly integrated with backend systems like Sharepoint or Exchange, these applications will be raising the bar for competitors in the collaboration space.

There is a big IF in this plan. Customer will have to upgrade their infrastructure with the latest MS server technologies to enable these applications. If they don't do that, Office System cannot succeed. There is no other important reason to upgrade. This is going to be a long, a very long uphill battle, but I don't have any doubt that Microsoft will fight that battle to the end.

Can they change the game plan? They have done it before when they created "Office". They bundled excellent applications like Excel, with terrible ones like PowerPoint and mediocre ones like Word. It changed the landscape because customers no longer bought best-of-breed. It took a number of iterations until the Office applications were integrated and I would argue that even with Office 2000 that was not completed yet.

If Microsoft succeeds in building an Office System that integrates with the server, that will again change the way customers buy their infrastructure. This is going to be interesting ...

*) and a new pen :-)


I agree with your analysis with two exceptions.

1. It was Word that led original "Windows" based "Office" buy decisions. If one compares "Office" against Lotus' "SmartSuite", then IMHO, Word was much better than AmiPro, Excel and 123 were a wash, Freelance was better than PowerPoint and Approach was better that Access.

2. The compelling feature in Office System 2003 (note the addition of "system") will be the right click on a name to find that person's: location, availability, presense, access modes, etc. and then left click to: call them, email them,IM them, etc. Everything else really flows from this.

Nick, 2003-10-22

Hm, no. 2 sounds like the who-is-online functionality in Lotus Notes... ;-)

But with which environments does it work? Where does it perform a lookup for user information? Which IM tools are supported (MSN only I assume...)?

And Volker, what does this pen do? Other than exposing a view on the ink container... Don't get me wrong, it looks stylish, but is it a real gadget or is it just stylish? ;-)

Just asking,

Ragnar Schierholz, 2003-10-22

Ragnar, is that a trick question? It writes on paper. Actually quite well. As for presence, contact details and so forth: Microsoft wants to sell you servers.

Nick, interesting observations straight from the horse's mouth on Office history. :-) I think we agree that:

1. Microsoft is scared about Linux in general and Samba in particular to replace file and print servers that are still out there.

2. Microsoft tries to leverage the existing Office monoculture to sell servers that will create a lock-in situation.

It's an either-or thing. Either they can lock their customers into their server products, or they lose a lot of business to Linux.

Volker Weber, 2003-10-22

No, this was not a trick question...

But from the link and the 3D-Flash-Demo there I now know that the pulling the back of the pen out exposes the tip so by pushing the back in you can actually protect it. I kind of missed that watching the animated GIF.

Now it makes more sense ;-)

Ragnar Schierholz, 2003-10-22

A very interesting Poll what IT People are thinking about upgrading to Office 2003 you find here. Hello IBM look at the 55% migrating to Star Office/Open Office. When will we see Open Office Support in Notes?

Detlev Buschkamp, 2003-10-23

Interesting to see the European Commission choosing Office 2003 launch week to publish their guidelines on how to migrate to open source.

Simon Phipps, 2003-10-23

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