Microsoft expands Office accelerator offerings

Microsoft will increase the number of business-scenario specific add-ons for its Office 2003 products and make them available at no charge to all Office users, the company said last week.

Called Office Solution Accelerators, the add-ons are packages of components, templates and architectural guidelines designed to help users streamline specific business tasks using Office 2003 applications. The company already offers two accelerators, one for recruiting and one for proposals.

Microsoft has specified four more accelerators that it plans to deliver before the end of its fiscal year on June 30, and has set a goal to offer a further 12 in its next financial year, the company said in a statement. A spokesman declined to say what accelerators it is working on for the next fiscal year.

Furthermore, the Office additions will now be available to all Office users at no charge, Microsoft said. Previously, only those customers who signed up to Microsoft's Software Assurance maintenance and upgrade plan were offered the Solution Accelerators.

The Solution Accelerators require some configuration and customization, which can be done by a Microsoft partner or by a customer's own IT department, Microsoft said. The target audience is businesses with 1,000 PCs or more. The product add-ons are offered worldwide, the Microsoft spokesman said.

The Office accelerators that Microsoft has announced already are Office Solution Accelerator for Six Sigma, Office Solution Accelerator for Sarbanes-Oxley, Office Solution Accelerator for Excel OLAP Reporting and Office Solution Accelerator for Business Scorecards.

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