To date, 20,000 copies have been shipped to testers in a program that is broader than the usual beta. Executives said Office 2000 will inaugurate a new component strategy and will, for the first time, include Microsoft's FrontPage Web authoring tool in certain versions of the final product when it ships next year. It will also include PhotoDraw 2000, the company's new business graphics software.
Expected to be priced around the same range of Office 97, or $499, the new suite also features the first beta version of Outlook 2000, the latest version of Microsoft's email client software. The new version features enhancements like Office E-Mail, which allows users to compose messages using any Office application and to send the message as HTML.
Microsoft will be offering five suite options when Office 2000 ships in 1999. Announced today, Office 2000 Premium offers corporate users and software enthusiasts a high-end suite of Web tools, desktop applications, document management software, and graphic design technology.
Also announced today, Office 2000 Professional is targeted specifically to corporate users and features the basic desktop applications absent any graphic design technology, while Office 2000 Small Business and Standard, as in Office 97, offers users with basic computer needs a core collection of the Office applications and software.
Office 2000 incorporates HTML as a file format and Web posting features through a "save-as" dialog box that allows users to post information to the Web.
The inclusion of HTML as a file format brings tighter integration with FrontPage 2000, scheduled for beta testing by the fall. When beta 2 of Office 2000 ships in the fall, company executives said it will be bundled with FrontPage 2000, though FrontPage will still be sold as a separate Web development tool as well.