Microsoft Office 2003 Beta Includes Access to Fee-Based Information Services

Mar 11, 2003

Microsoft Corp. has begun distributing 500,000 copies of the Beta 2 version of the new Microsoft Office System, which will leverage its XML underpinnings to include access to various content sources directly from within Office applications. Seven Office System products are provided in the Beta evaluation kit, including Beta 2 versions of the new Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Access), the two new Office System additions, (InfoPath and OneNote), and Microsoft Office FrontPage, Publisher, SharePoint Services, and SharePoint Portal Server 2.0. The products were developed with four design goals in mind: improved information intelligence, including personalized access and delivery of business information; streamlined process management; more effective teaming and collaboration; and a more personal impact on the business user (improved Tablet PC support, new digital note-taking application, improvements to Outlook, and new junk email filter tools). Office 2003, the successor to Microsoft Office XP, is the cornerstone of the Office System. Office 2003 includes enhancements such as integration with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies; XML support in Microsoft Office Word 2003, Microsoft Office Excel 2003, and Microsoft Office Access 2003; and support for Information Rights Management. Microsoft Office System products are scheduled for release in mid-2003. Beta testing will continue until November 30, 2003.

Three research and information providers have already announced that they will offer services in conjunction with Microsoft Office 2003. Factiva, Gale, and eLibrary have all integrated search tools into the Research Task Pane of all Microsoft Office 2003 applications and are available as a part of the Microsoft Office 2003 Beta 2 trial. These and other information sources can be accessed directly from Office applications like Word and Excel. If an Office user already has a paid subscription (or if a given service is free), they can right click on a word or phrase, choose "Look Up" and then a Research Window opens. Users than can choose from a variety of content sources and access and import the information directly, without leaving the application. If they don't have a subscription to a desired information services, users will be prompted to purchase the information a la carte or to subscribe.

Factiva's first solution for Office 2003, Factiva News Search, is designed to allow information workers to conduct research on Factiva's collection of sources directly from a report, spreadsheet, or presentation they're creating. For example, while drafting a brief in Word 2003, competitive intelligence professionals can use Factiva News Search to look up industry trends from newspapers, journals, and newswires from around the world and insert that research into their document. While evaluating Beta test feedback, Factiva and Microsoft will also be researching customer solutions that can be built on top of the Office 2003 System.  

Gale, a research and reference publisher and a part of The Thomson Corporation, will offer users of the Microsoft Office System access to a portion of Gale's online information resources. By highlighting a company name in most Microsoft Office 2003 applications, customers can receive Gale-published company profiles within the application. Microsoft Office 2003 customers will also have access to a new Web-based online service offered by Gale (previews at that will enable them to purchase individual reports or subscribe to a database of more than 450,000 company profiles covering public and private companies from around the world. Each profile is a report on the highlighted company, with an overview of its businesses, executive names, financial data, recent news and announcements, and other information.

Alacritude, LLC, publisher of eLibrary and, will offer eLibrary through Microsoft Office 2003. The agreement allows users to search for eLibrary documents when a word is highlighted within most Office applications. eLibrary search results appear in a research pane within a Microsoft Office 2003 document and include article abstracts from newspapers, newswires, magazines, journals, and transcripts, as well as information from maps, photos, and reference sources. eLibrary search results and article abstracts are available for free, and eLibrary offers unlimited, full document access with additional research capabilities for those who pay a subscription fee.

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