Microsoft has confirmed that its new version of Office will not offer a complete set of features unless it is deployed with Internet Information Server (IIS) and the Office Server Extensions (OSE).
Microsoft is pushing the idea of intranet workgroups by merging Frontpage into a new high-end version of Office 2000, which will be available some time after the suite's main release early next year. The ability to save a document in any application to the Web is to be augmented by the OSE, which are similar to the current Frontpage Server Extensions, allowing users to insert discussions into documents and conduct online data analysis using OLAP.
Unlike the current Frontpage extensions, however, OSE will not be free and will not be offered on multiple platforms. Also, client licences will be required for interacting with Web sites that use the extra OSE functions.
Deploying Office 2000 with IIS will allow users to create shared Web Folders on the server, which also adds a new icon to the Explorer interface, much like the Windows 95 My Documents folder.
Many of the extra features in Office 2000 will also require close integration with the BackOffice suite. Integration with BackOffice adds a host of extra features, such as document management, data analysis, workflow, and more intranet application support.
Some of the most exciting new features in Office 2000 are enabled by OLAP support in Excel and Access, which allows drill-down analysis of a spreadsheet or chart from a Web page. Again, this will require OSE on the server, and will benefit from having SQL Server as the back-end database, which will tie Office users closer to Microsoft's database product than those of rivals like Oracle (see PC Week, 9 June). Excel 2000 will include support for Decision Support Services (DSS), a new OLAP capability that is only available in SQL Server 7.0.
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