Microsoft's launch of Office 97 last week was overshadowed by a bug that brings the installation of the program to a halt, prompting the company to hand deliver warnings to its partners.
The beta of DCOM (Distributed Component Object Model) for Windows 95 includes a stray OLE Automation DLL (Dynamic Link Library) which has not been tested. Microsoft warned users that the OLEAUT32.DLL interferes with the Office 97 installation and should be uninstalled using the Add/Remove Programs control in Windows 95.
Jeremy Gittens, Office marketing manager at Microsoft UK, admitted the bug was serious, but stressed: "This bug is not widely available and is in fact restricted only to our very close partners."
Bugs or not, Office 97 will be looking to increase Microsoft's near-complete dominance of a market that was once fought over by three of the largest software companies in the business. According to IT analyst Dataquest, MS Office had 82% of the suites market at the end of 1995, with very little competition from Lotus, whose share was 11%. Canadian software house Corel was just beginning to make its presence felt with about 6% market share.
John Cess, software analyst with Romtec, doesn't see either Corel or Lotus affecting Microsoft's dominance, no matter what they do. He said: "When you've got 80% plus market share in any arena, and you continue to market your product as aggressively as Microsoft does, it's very difficult for anyone to compete."
Eric LeFebvre, Corel's international communications manager, agrees but doesn't think existing Office users should jump straight into the 97 upgrade.
He said: "According to our research only about 20% of this type of application is ever used, so corporates should think very carefully before they spend their budgets on the new version."
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