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Microsoft said Office 12, now dubbed Office 2007, will feature a converged SharePoint and Content Management Server, a new Forms Server and some new desktop SKUs.
Microsoft detailed the packaging options of the next Office wave, still due in late 2006, on Wednesday.
Plans call for seven different suite versions. Microsoft will continue to offer a Professional version through volume licensing but will layer e-forms and content management to the overall package plus add the new Office Communicator client, said Parri Munsell, group program manager for Information Worker licensing and pricing at Microsoft. An Office Enterprise 2007 edition will add Groove collaboration and the OneNote note-taking application for tablet PC users, Munsell said. Both of these high-end editions will be offered only via volume license deals.
Microsoft watchers have expected a new higher-end Office SKU with Groove since Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer first talked of a Premium Office edition last summer. Munsell said the enterprise bundle will include an updated Groove 2007 offering and significant integration between Groove and the other applications, particularly Communicator. Microsoft completed its acquisition of Groove Networks last year.
"The Groove client is updated. I think we'll have broad usage among corporate customers," Munsell said. Groove lets workgroups collaborate securely on projects and documents across firewalls and geographies. Microsoft also will have international versions of Groove--which so far has been English-only--ready to roll, he said.
In addition, the Redmond, Wash., company is replacing the current low-price Student & Teacher edition with a new Home version, in which the Outlook mail client will be swapped out for OneNote. "Many households already have a Web mail client," Munsell said. "Anybody can purchase it. You no longer need a student or a teacher in the household, and you can install it on three machines. The price remains $149."
Microsoft, too, is continuing its Office Server push with the new SharePoint Portal Server 2007, converging the usual portal capabilities with content management and Excel services, Munsell said. “We're combining different things from different servers in one offering. It's easier to manage, and IT customers will like that. And in some scenarios, it adds flexibility and works well with Office Pro Plus," he said.
Other new Office-labeled servers will include a Forms Server for easing distribution and management of electronic forms and Project Portfolio Server. Microsoft has already launched a business intelligence server under the Office brand.
An expanded enterprise client access license (CAL) adds access to enterprise search, spreadsheet publishing, form creation and "unified" messaging to the current core CAL, which provides access to Windows Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Portal Server and System Management Server. News that Microsoft was mulling expanded core CALs, including what some called a "superCAL," for this Office wave emerged nearly two years ago.
Reflecting Microsoft's Google fixation, the new Office also is permeated with search capabilities. Munsell said the product’s inherent search functionality builds on the same technologies and architecture that will show up in the upcoming Windows Vista client.
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