Registered users of Office 97 and Office 98 for the Macintosh can download new features and get personalized help free from the Office Update Web site, which will launch today, said Andrew Dixon, a Microsoft product manager for Office 97.
The Web site will offer patches and software upgrades. Users registering later today can download a 3-D rotation option for PowerPoint, a calendar template, and voice-recognition software for free.
"The site is an intelligent Web site," said Dixon, meaning the site will be able to recognize natural language entries by users as well as profile what a user is interested in and send updates and messages through email to the user.
The new level of product assistance the site offers was driven by customer demand, Dixon said. "The site will help customers installing Office, as well as those just looking for the latest update."
Although most of the upgrades are free for Office users, the Lernout & Hauspie's new Voice Command and Control program for Word 97 must be paid for after a 60-day trial period, Dixon said.
Microsoft plans to offer similar sites for its other products in the future.
In related news, Microsoft is expected to ship a CD-ROM, which will include 500MB to 600MB of help files, tools, and downloadable updates for IS managers maintaining Office installations, Dixon said. Due to ship sometime this quarter, beta versions are currently in use.