Microsoft piles on glitz for Office XP launch

Microsoft representatives showed off Office XP's Smart Tags feature for rapidly accessing and aggregating information and highlighted the complementary SharePoint Portal Server 2001 and SharePoint Team Services suite of collaborative applications (formerly code-named Office Web Server).

Gates touted XML (Extensible Markup Language) as an integral part of Office XP. "We're designing all our software products from the ground up around XML," he said, adding, "Office XP is the first version of Office that supports XML. ... It's our view that XML is going to unlock a lot of business processes that have been paper-bound and bring them onto the network, and we need to use the standard Office interface as the way that people can navigate that information."

Microsoft Excel and Access now support XML as a file format. Other updates available in Office XP include newly added dictation and text-to-speech features, enhanced data recovery, document review and revision improvements, and integration with Microsoft's free Hotmail Web e-mail service and MSN Instant Messenger.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said Office XP will be interoperable with non-Microsoft e-mail and instant messaging systems, but could not immediately provide details on which systems Office XP will cooperate with and whether or not it will be fully interoperable.

Representatives from Ford Motor Company and Bridge Information Systems demonstrated how their firms are utilising Office XP's new features, while chief executive officer Jeff Bezos was on hand to exhibit Office XP's popularity and one-click availability on his site. Bezos pointed out that on the Amazon site, Office ranks among the top-selling software titles, but his planned pitch went slightly awry when an ad popped up and briefly obscured the Office XP page on

"I didn't plan that," Bezos commented -- although he didn't look displeased about the inadvertent marketing opportunity.

One of the stars of the day was Clippy, the theoretically helpful, much-maligned office assistant Microsoft introduced in Office 97. Clippy kicked off the event by bemoaning his demise: Microsoft is heavily marketing the idea that Office XP is so simple, Clippy and his fellow office assistants are unnecessary.

"I used to be helpful," lamented a Clippy-costumed actor. "XP stands for ex-paperclip."

But Clippy isn't really dead -- he's just non-standard. The office assistants will be turned off by default in Office XP, but users can choose to enable them.

Audience members had mixed reactions to the launch. Technology author John Hertzig, who came after seeing the event advertised on the Web, said he's excited to upgrade and learned about several new features during the presentation. Similarly, entertainment industry manager George Sewitt said he thinks Office XP will be a turning point for Microsoft. He plans to upgrade his business, The Sewitt Group, to Office XP shortly.

But tech consultant Stephen Bier said he found the presentation "too jazzy," and lacking in real demos. He's also debating whether or not to upgrade his business, Stephen Bier Associates, and today's event did little to answer his questions, he said. He did see a couple of features that caught his eye, particularly the Smart Tags, but he said he's not sure how much day-to-day use the new features will get.

"The Smart Tags seem neat, but I'm not sure. I'll have to play with it," Bier said. "It also seems like a way to get you online and to sell you more products."

Gartner Inc. analyst Michael Silver also expressed doubts that Office XP will be a must-have for users. "Not that it's a bad upgrade, but its going to cost a lot to upgrade," he said. "There are a lot of good features, but it's a question of whether you can put a dollar value on it, and is that the price Microsoft is charging?"

(George A. Chidi Jr. in Boston contributed to this report.)

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stacy Cowley

PC World
Show Comments



Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?