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MS leaves it at the Office

Microsoft officially unveils two new products at the company's Office Developer Conference in Palm Springs, California.

Microsoft (MSFT) officially announced new products today at the company's Office Developer Conference in Palm Springs, California.

As reported by CNET last week, the software giant said it will promote its Office application suite as a third-party development platform by releasing a developer's edition of the Office 97 suite in early January, the same time that it will release the regular version.

The developer suite will include all the Office applications, plus tools to create and distribute royalty-free custom database applications based on Microsoft Access. The tools include the Access run-time engine, Visual Basic for Applications 5.0, and version-control software integration for developers working in groups.

The company also officially announced Team Manager, a network-based application that allows workgroups to track and synchronize workflow and share information such as assignments, deadlines, and job status. Team Manager is not part of the Office 97 suite, but it sports the same interface and can be integrated to work with Outlook, the revamped organizer application within Office 97.

Team Manager software can be installed with read-write access to let group leaders post assignments and make changes, or with read-only access so that group members can update their own information but not the group's information.

The software comes with its own messaging interface that sits on top of the shared Team Manager database. If they prefer, groups can instead communicate via Microsoft Mail, Lotus's Notes Mail, cc:Mail, or other email systems based on the MAPI or VIM protocols.

Team Manager is due to ship this December priced at $109 per user. The company said it will announce pricing for the developer edition and other editions of Office 97 closer to the January 1997 ship date.