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MS has designs on Publisher

Microsoft announces Publisher 97, an update of its desktop publishing program that, like its competitors, seeks to capitalize on the Internet buzz.

Microsoft (MSFT) today announced Publisher 97, an update of its desktop publishing program that, like its competitor Adobe Systems' PageMaker, seeks to capitalize on the Internet buzz.

Publisher 97's new Web publishing capabilities consist mainly of a "wizard" guide that walks users through Web page creation and saves HTML files. Microsoft representatives are quick to point out that Publisher 97 is not a fully functional site builder, as the Web Site Wizard is basically a set of style templates that shield the user from HTML coding.

"You can design your Web page to be consistent with all your marketing materials, like with a jazzy theme or a modern theme or funky toolbars," spokeswoman Courtenay Miles said. Publisher 97 users will also have access to a clip-art library including audio and video material on Microsoft's Web site.

Other new features include a Postcard PageWizard for creating postcards, a font preview menu, and mail merge that accepts imports from other Microsoft products.

Publisher 97, which is not a component of Office 97, will be available in English in October for an estimated price of $79.95. Foreign-language versions will be available starting in November.