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Microsoft readies Web site tool

The next version of the tool, FrontPage 2000, boasts tighter integration with the next version of desktop applications suite Office 2000.

Microsoft will start shipping the next version of its Web site authoring and management tool in the first quarter of 1999, company sources said.

Due to be out in beta by the fall, FrontPage 2000 features tighter integration with the next version of the Redmond, Washington-based giant's desktop applications suite Office 2000 than prior versions of the product do. That's in-part due to a decision by the company to incorporate HTML as a file format.

"We responded to what users wanted most," said Priscilla Mistele, FrontPage product manager. "Users say, 'make it work better with Office, please."

The next version of FrontPage will deliver shared Office shortcuts and tools like background spelling, the Format Painter, and HTML help. It will also include round-trip editing of Office HTML which allows users to create a HTML document in Word 2000, edit it in FrontPage 2000, and reopen and edit the document in Word.

Users will also be able to open and save Office 2000 documents directly to a FrontPage-based Web site. With this tight integration with Office, Office HTML can be edited within FrontPage.

FrontPage 2000 also includes new support for Visual Basic for Applications, and enhanced collaboration capabilities, company representatives said yesterday.

On the management side of things, Microsoft has included nested subwebs that enable different access permissions on each level, check-in/check-out control, and a workflow reporting function that allows managers to organize workflow schedules.

FrontPage will also replicate the same multilingual support provided in Office 2000, providing authoring capabilities in 12 new languages, the company said.