The Web Inside Outlook 2000

The MSNBC.com Personal Update puts a window of personalized Web content inside Outlook 2000. One of Microsoft's "digital dashboards," a concept for consolidating Office 2000 information within one view on the desktop, the MSNBC.com Personal Update is available as a free download.

You'll still have to use the browser to read full stories, but the MSNBC.com digital dashboard will keep you up to speed with news headlines and your stocks while you work with e-mail, calendar, and other tasks.

Push Not Pull

"The MSNBC.com Personal Update is a hybrid of push technology," says Peter Dorogoff, marketing communications manager at MSNBC.com. "It lets the at-work user get a quick synopsis of the day's news without having to toggle over to a browser."

More than just ticker headlines, the MSNBC.com Personal Update creates a portal-like service within Outlook. You can customize your My Outlook Today page with the news, stocks, weather, and sports information you want to see alongside your daily tasks, appointments, and e-mail messages.

When you're online, the Personal Update feeds relevant news headlines from MSNBC.com into Outlook. A side toolbar keeps your e-mail, contacts, calendar, and tasks one click away. Click on any headline, and your browser takes you to the Web.

Microsoft first announced digital dashboard last fall as an Office 2000 tool that corporations can develop to consolidate workers' personal, team, corporate, and external information, says Lisa Gurry, a product manager for Microsoft Office 2000.

While several corporations already have customized digital dashboards, MSNBC.com has created one that anyone can download, Gurry says.

Corporate digital dashboards can access information online and even offline. But the MSNBC.com service, the first digital dashboard available to the public, only works while you're connected.

Desktop Meets the Web

Other content providers are taking advantage of the constant connections in offices and some homes to send Web content to the desktop. America Online's Instant Messenger has a news ticker, while RealNetwork's RealPlayer 7 runs you through the day's top news and entertainment stories with its multimedia Take 5 service. But the MSNBC.com digital dashboard is alone in its integration with Outlook 2000, the e-mail and contacts application that sits on many corporate desktops.

MSNBC.com Personal Update users can click on any headline and be sent to the story via an Internet Explorer window within Outlook. It works with Netscape Navigator as well.

Depending on how the digital dashboard is configured, corporations can integrate other applications to create shared documents and analyze spreadsheets, Gurry says. But the MSNBC.com Personal Update can't open Word or Excel.

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Cameron Crouch

PC World

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