Microsoft Office 11 Beta

In the next instalment of Micro­soft’s Office suite, the major improvements are led by a tighter integration of XML technology. Creating and working with XML documents is far superior than in Office XP, which is a fair indication of how important XML has become to the business world.

In the minor improvements basket, Outlook seems to be the big winner. Flagging of messages for later follow-up can now be done with a single click; these messages appear in their own follow-up folder.

You can also create Search folders that display messages that meet certain search criteria, such as being from a specific person. Outlook’s preview pane has also been revamped so that messages are easier to read. See here for a screenshot example.

Word’s new Reading view provides a slick interface for when you simply need to read a document without editing it. Multiple pages can be displayed on the screen at once and you can navigate within a document by clicking on thumbnails. Additional tweaks to Word include enhanced markup features, style locking, and greater editing control.

Some of the more notable additions for the other Office applications include improved statistical functions in Excel, the ability to make backups of Access databases, and a speedy Package to CD feature in PowerPoint.

Although Office 11 Beta is looking like a stable and comprehensive product, one problem that users will face when it is finally released is that it will require Windows 2000 or Windows XP to be installed.

In brief:Microsoft Office 11 Beta

(Beta software, not rated)
The next version of Microsoft Office won’t hit the retail shelves until mid-2003 but this beta certainly shows promise.
Price: $TBA
Phone: 13 2058
URL: www.microsoft.com