Office XP: collaboration features

For documents that require input and editing from a number of sources, Office XP's review and workflow tools are extremely useful. Select 'mail recipient: for review' from the Send To submenu, and a copy of the document that you're working on will be sent to a colleague's mailbox, automatically opening up in Review mode.

For documents that require input and editing from a number of sources, Office XP's review and workflow tools are extremely useful. Select 'mail recipient: for review' from the Send To submenu, and a copy of the document that you're working on will be sent to a colleague's mailbox, automatically opening up in Review mode.

Previously, tracking changes was a very messy business, with colour coding and information pop-ups doing little to help the fact that alterations were held within the body copy. This made heavily edited documents impossible to read and ruined page formats and layouts.

In a Review document, you can choose from four views. Original and Final show the document before and after changes, while Original Showing Markup and Final Showing Markup contain any alterations made. The main difference is that comments, deletions and format changes are contained in captions outside of the document, and the Review toolbar (a Data Pane might have been more appropriate) allows you to step through, accept or delete any modifications before closing.

With Office XP versions that include FrontPage 2002, you also get SharePoint Team Services (formerly Tahoe), a superset of FrontPage server extensions that allows you to set up a group resource Web site. It requires a Web server running SharePoint Portal Server and the latest FrontPage server extensions (http://www.microsoft.com/frontpage/fpse), and uses FrontPage 2002 to compile list data -- such as tasks or events, or discussions and surveys -- that are arranged using Microsoft's Digital Dashboard technology.

SharePoint Team members can be notified when changes to content occur, or save event data from the Web site directly into their Outlook 2002 calendar. As an extension of the document workflow tools detailed above, documents can be submitted to the SharePoint Portal for review, archived, discussed and approved before they're made available to others for viewing.

Less grandiose, but still useful, is the integration of MSN Messenger into Outlook 2002 -- assuming you have it installed. If you open an email or a contact card (VCF) from someone who has MSN Messenger, you can see whether the person who sent it is currently online. If they are, you can open a chat session with them, rather than simply replying to their email.

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