Microsoft president Steve Ballmer has admitted that Outlook, a pivotal component of Office 2000, is "not as easy to set up and customise as I would like".
Ballmer also said, when in London last week, that Microsoft's full "knowledge management vision" could take up to five more years to come to fruition and that more components would be unveiled over the next 18 months that would complete the picture.
The company has touted Outlook - the component of Office 2000 that would handle clients and messaging, calendar and contact manager functions of MS' Exchange program - as its pathway into corporate information. Microsoft refers to it as the "digital dashboard".
Office 2000 is to become the "knowledge management desktop" in Microsoft's vaunted "digital nervous system" strategy, which also includes a new version of Exchange, code-named Platinum. The Exchange client and messaging, calendaring and contact manager component of Office Platinum will be released 90 days after Windows 2000, the company said. It will include a new feature called Web Store, which is a database for unstructured information such as Emails, Web pages and corporate data in a variety of different formats.
Mike Thompson, research manager at analysts Butler Group, agreed with Ballmer that the suite can be difficult to set up and customise.
"The configuration of Office 2000 is not easy, and that could well be a problem with all of Windows 2000," Thompson said.
Ballmer described how Outlook 2000 would act as the front end for Web Store, providing a single interface for a range of data formats.
Platinum will also be able to handle voice traffic, effectively becoming a unified messaging platform. Another new technology, dubbed Tahoe, would provide document management and search services using XML, the company said. A developer tool called Grizzly would allow businesses to integrate workflow capabilities.
"A lot of people are intimidated by computers," Ballmer said. "We need to make them more approachable.
We need PCs with some intelligence."
He expounded the idea that all workers are knowledge workers who need the ability to "express themselves, contribute ideas and receive feedback using authoring and recall."
Office 2000 is coming out next week in the UK.
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