Microsoft has included an improved set of implementation tools and Wizards in Office 2000, intended to give its 22 rapid deployment partners a stress-free Office 2000 rollout.
But concerns remain over underlying compatibility with legacy software and Microsoft is also still writing deployment tools to address gaps in customer deployment programmes in the US.
The rapid deployment partners include The Post Office, Shell, Ford, ICL and Unisys, all of whom will roll out Office 2000 internally over the next few weeks. Unisys has already started internal deployment in the US while UK confidence in Office 2000 seems high with a number of deployment plans already in place.
As well as the above companies, others such as Stoll Moss Theatres and Arco have started to deploy. According to Rhys Sharp, technical services manager at Microsoft Solution Provider C Cat, the Stoll Moss 250 seat rollout should be relatively trouble free as the company is starting from scratch, but safety wear firm Arco could be a different story.
"There's no legacy issue at Stoll Moss, but Arco is more complex. There are 22 branches and there is some legacy software and we do envisage some compatibility problems which will slow down deployment time." Arco is also undergoing a SAP implementation and has around 500 seats.
Barnsley Borough Council will also deploy Office 2000 across its entire 250 PC network using System Management Server overnight later this month. The speed at which companies will deploy Office 2000 is becoming an issue.
Although Microsoft ran a session at today's Deployment conference in Nice that showed how to deploy Office 2000 and NT Workstation 4.0 in 15 minutes using the System Preparation Tool, a source at the conference has said that Microsoft has historically been "very poor at deployment." But it is an issue the company is constantly trying to address, added the source. "Anyway, it's a problem most of software vendors have."
Asaf Niaz, IT manager for The Roy Castle Cancer Research Fund said that the best way to approach the problem is through piloting. "We will have a pilot programme in place by May 25. We have to look at how we can manage deployment across are mobile, roaming and desktop user base of 100. The Custom Installation Wizard should enable us to do that."
Niaz, who is also keen on the Web components particularly with Access 2000 for collaborative working purposes, is working with Solution Provider Pygmalion to try and manage the roll out to try and "avoid as many compatibility issues as possible."
The five editions of Office 2000 - Standard, Professional, Small Business Edition, Premium and Developer - will for the first time be launched together on June 8.
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