Microsoft demonstrates Office XP

Microsoft Corp. demonstrated the new features of Office XP, the latest upgrade to its popular Office productivity suite, here Thursday. The new suite will be available in retail stores and from some hardware manufacturers on May 31, 2001.

In a presentation to international journalists, Microsoft officials highlighted improvements in usability, reliability, support for collaborative work, and security.

New features include:

- Smart tags, which give users relevant information for completing tasks or accessing data.

- Speech functionality that will enable dictation, command and control, and text-to-speech capabilities in English, Chinese and Japanese.

- Task panes that give users easier access to commands and options that were previously available only through menus and dialog boxes.

Microsoft executives here also said security has been improved, not only on the Outlook module, but throughout the suite. In particular, Outlook now incorporates update patches that addressed security holes in previous versions that allowed e-mail viruses to spread rapidly over corporate networks worldwide.

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