Microsoft disclosed early details of the next version of Office, currently code-named Office 9x, last week.
A beta will ship to approximately 20,000 testers in the summer, while Beta 2 will be made available to a quarter of a million test sites at an undisclosed date.
After facing criticism over incompatibilities between recent versions of Word, Microsoft has chosen HTML as its strategic file format for future versions of Office, ensuring compatibility across the majority of platforms.
Total Web Integration is the new battle cry for Office with corny slogans such as WYSWEB (What You See Is What Everybody Browses).
The new version will allow organisations tighter control over which features to give individual users. This also means that suite components can be run in real-time through a Web browser, rather like Lotus eSuite, although at present only IE 4.0 supports this capability.
Dennis Tevlin, Microsoft's director of marketing, said: "It's potentially something that could happen over the next few months but right now we cannot claim Navigator support."
This model means Office 9x can be run either from the desktop or on a server feeding Windows Terminal or NC clients with little or no local processing power.
Users working from numerous workstations can have their personal preferences downloaded to whichever terminal they log on to, a feature important for hot-desking situations.
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