Microsoft presents Office XP applications

Along with Microsoft Corp.'s launch of Office XP on Thursday, the company presented a host of business productivity applications and additional tools.

FrontPage 2002 enables Web page design and management, priced at US$169, or an upgrade price of $89.95 for owners of earlier versions. MapPoint 2002 permits demographic analysis from geographic and business data. Microsoft priced the software at $249, but current license holders of MapPoint 2000, MapPoint 2001 or any suite of Office XP are eligible for a US$50 or C$75 rebate when they acquire MapPoint 2002.

Outlook Mobile Manager can push e-mail from the Outlook application to mobile devices like text-capable pagers and cell phones. It is available for free at http://www.microsoft.com/outlook/mobile/and as a free add-on for Office XP. Publisher 2002 is the latest version of Microsoft's desktop publishing program, priced at $129 or an upgrade price of $99 after the $30 mail-in upgrade rebate.

SharePoint Portal Server 2001 allows companies to manage the transfer and authorization of documents within a network, and to collaborate in document creation. Its list price is $3,995 per server and $72 per user. Visio 2002 creates business diagrams and drawings for presentations. Microsoft estimated price for Visio Standard 2002 at $199 and Visio Professional 2002 at $499. The cost to upgrade from Visio 2000 will be $99 for Standard and $249 for Professional, according to the company.

Like Office XP itself, one analyst views the new versions of Office applications as incremental improvements.

"People are pretty happy with their desktop applications," said Rob Perry, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group Inc. research firm in Boston. "There's only so much you can do to a spreadsheet or a word processor program."

However, Microsoft is touting new functions that have been added to the latest version of Office and the company's productivity applications. Microsoft promoted the added functions like "smart tags" that offer spelling corrections or options for pasting in more material as a customer enters data, and speech functionality for dictation and text-to-speech capabilities.

Office XP also incorporates optical character recognition software from ScanSoft Inc., permitting text in documents that are scanned into a PC to be directly transferred into Office applications like Microsoft Word or Outlook messaging and collaboration software client. Text from scanned documents can be searched the same way searches are performed in regular Word files.

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