Office Upgrade Previewed By Microsoft

Tahoe will offer a Digital Dashboard-style portal, through which users can take advantage of capabilities such as indexing, advanced searching, and beefed-up storage, Muglia told financial analysts who attended a conference here.

Muglia and an Office product manager demonstrated how Office will be able to use "Web parts," reusable Digital Dashboard software services, to access content department- or company-wide, from a range of sources, including competing products such as Lotus Development Corp.'s Notes.

"I think this is a pretty compelling entry into the intranet portal space," Muglia said, adding that Tahoe should ship as a finished product in early 2001.

Features demonstrated in the next version of Office included a search engine that is incorporated into the suite; print preview capabilities in PowerPoint; and enhanced word-count and cut-and-paste features.

After the next version of Office ships, Microsoft will focus on Office .NET, which will place the suite to the world of application hosting and "software as a service," the mantra of the Redmond, Wash.-based company's .NET initiative.

"This is a step in the direction of Office as a service," Muglia said of the Office demonstrations, adding that more than 50 ASPs (application service providers) are poised to host Exchange. "This is a great opportunity to get much richer messaging and collaborative features out to customers."