Microsoft cuts two Office 10 features

Some technologies anticipated by developers building .Net-enabled applications won't be in the shipping product next year.

Microsoft has decided to drop two features from its next-generation Office suite for Windows, which is due to ship next year.

After evaluating feedback from users of Beta 2 of Office 10, Microsoft has made a decision not to include the Office Designer tool and Local Web Storage System in the final product, company officials confirmed. Microsoft said these two features were not reliable and of high enough quality to make it into the shipping product.

However, both features were expected to be key to Microsoft's .Net strategy, aimed to make all of its legacy products more Internet-ready. While Microsoft has not touted Office 10 as its first .Net Office release, officials have said repeatedly that Office 10 is a stepping stone on the way to the first Office .Net release.

.Net is Microsoft's software-as-a-service strategy. In short, Microsoft is trying to get developers and customers to write to a new framework, rather than to Windows, in order to create Web applications.

Office 10 is slated to ship commercially before mid-2001. The Office .Net release, internally known by the code-name NetDocs, is expected around 2003.

Microsoft first demonstrated its Office Designer tool in October in Dallas at the Microsoft Exchange & Collaboration Solutions Conference 2000. At that time, the company touted the tool as enabling developers to "create and customize interactive, Web-based collaborative applications that teams can use to communicate and work together more effectively." Applications developed using Office Designer were supposed to be able to run online or offline, using the Local Web Storage System.

The Local Web Storage System is based on the unified repository that Microsoft calls the Web Storage System, which is shipping as part of Microsoft Exchange 2000 and is slated to be part of a future Microsoft server application, code-named Tahoe. Tahoe, which is in beta, is meant to be an Intranet portal and document management product. It stores information in Outlook 10 and synchronises it with the Web Storage System. The Local Web Storage System also was slated to allow Outlook users to work when offline.

Office 10 will work on Windows 98/98 SE, Windows Millennium Edition, NT 4.0, and Windows 2000. It will not be backward-compatible with earlier operating systems, company officials said.

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