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Office 2003 configurations unveiled

Office 2003 configurations unveiled

Microsoft Corp. plans to offer a half dozen different editions of its upcoming Office 2003 productivity suite, but none of them will include the new OneNote note-taking application.

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Microsoft Corp. plans to offer a half dozen different editions of its upcoming Office 2003 productivity suite, but none of them will include the new OneNote note-taking application.

And the company still isn't revealing pricing for the six different Office 2003 bundles or any of the stand-alone Office applications.

All six versions include the core Office applications of Word, Excel, and Outlook. Otherwise, the bundles differ by components or distribution channel. Office 2003 is in beta test and is expected to ship in June.

Retail Offerings

Four of the six versions will be available for retail sale. Office Professional 2003, the high-end retail package, also includes PowerPoint, Access, and Publisher (Microsoft's desktop publishing package, which has acquired a business/marketing slant). It also bundles the new Business Contact Manager add-on for Outlook.

This edition also includes full support for a couple of new Office technologies. Among those new functions are customer-defined XML schemas, which let businesses take full advantage of enhanced built-in XML support throughout the suite. It also provides Information Rights Management features, which afford greater control over who can read, edit, or copy Office content.

A midrange retail version, Office 2003 Small Business Edition, differs from the Small Business Edition of Office XP, which is available only with the purchase of a new PC. Office 2003 Small Business Edition includes the core applications plus PowerPoint, Publisher, and Business Contact Manager.

The two low-end retail packages are Office 2003 Standard Edition and Office 2003 Student and Teacher Edition. Both consist of the core apps plus PowerPoint.

Standard Edition is also available via a volume license; the Student and Teacher Edition is available through a special academic license that allows up to three people in a qualified household (one with at least one student or teacher) to install the product. That license is good for the lifetime of the product, even when bought by a student who then graduates.

Special Editions

The most full-featured version of the suite, Office Professional 2003 Enterprise Edition, is available only to volume licensees such as businesses and academic institutions. It is identical to the retail Professional edition, but also includes Microsoft's new InfoPath application. InfoPath provides tools to create XML documents that combine attributes of both elaborate Word documents and forms. These XML documents make it easy to deliver and format data from XML-friendly databases.

At the other end of the spectrum is Office 2003 Basic Edition, the most stripped-down version of the suite, with only the three core apps. Like Office XP Small Business Edition, which it replaces, Basic Edition will be available only with the purchase of a new PC. But the suite won't be as complete; Office XP Small Business Edition also includes Publisher.

A Microsoft representative said the decision not to offer OneNote in any of the Office bundles is based on feedback from an extensive pool of beta testers. OneNote was designed primarily for individuals who take extensive notes and want to repurpose them. --PC World.com (US)

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