1999 Conference Proceedings

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OFFICE 2000: UNDER THE HOOD

Heather Swayne
Program Manager
Microsoft Contact Information: Microsoft
One Microsoft Way; Redmond, WA 98052
425-936-8080
425-936-7329 FAX

Office 2000 is the newest version of Microsoft's desktop productivity suite. This version of the application gives users new ways to use the Web to share and collaborate on information more effectively. Office 2000 has also been designed to be more accessible to individuals with disabilities and compatible with adaptive hardware and software. Office 97 was the first major product to adopt Microsoft's Active Accessibility access standard. Office 2000 builds on this commitment and makes it even easier for developers of accessibility aids to create products that work with most on-screen features, including menus, tool bars, dialog boxes and forms. The Office 2000 development team has worked directly with users who have disabilities to identify features and capabilities that will make the software more accessible. This session will include detailed demonstrations of all the new components of the product and all its accessibility features.

Office 2000 includes the Microsoft Word word processing application, Excel spreadsheet application, Outlook™ personal information manager, PowerPoint® presentation software and Access database application. High-end editions of Office 2000 will include FrontPage 2000. This version of the productivity applications allows users to create documents and then save them directly to a Web server as easily as if they were saving them to their hard drive. People can also open Office documents from a Web server and edit them with an Office application. Microsoft enabled this process so that the user would be able to publish and share Web documents without learning new skills or using unfamiliar tools. The Office 2000 user interface is designed to adapt to personal usage patterns. Office 2000 will detect and repair essential files and will install features when people need to use them for the first time. When an Office 2000 application is launched, it determines if essential files are missing and where they can be found, then automatically installs them. In a similar way, when a user attempts to use a component for the first time, the program dynamically loads the missing component to the user's hard drive from the original Office 2000 files.

Office 2000 was designed to incorporate the Internet as a seamless element in all of the applications in the Office suite.

For example, HTML can be used as a default format, so that users can publish documents to the Internet simply by saving HTML-formatted documents to a Web server, the way they now save binary-formatted documents to a file server. Through the use of an Internet publishing wizard, similar to the Add a Printer wizard in Windows, any Web server can be added to the list of file servers. When the user wants to publish an HTML document, they would just select the Web server and save the document. Office 2000 uses the Internet or an intranet as a network to allow users to share documents and data, either through their Office 2000 applications or through a Web browser. Office 2000 comes with Microsoft's Internet Explorer 5.0 browser.

The following general features of Microsoft Office 2000 will be demonstrated:

Universal Document Viewing

With Office 2000 the user can save Office documents in HTML file format and retain the fidelity of their native Office file format. By saving as HTML any Web browser can view the user's documents. Editing these documents is not a problem because Office 2000 allows the document to be "round tripped" back into the original Office program without losing any functionality of the Office file formats.

Save to the Web

Office 2000 also simplifies publishing Office documents to an intranet or to an Internet site. New File Open and File Save dialog boxes make saving documents to a Web server as easy as saving them to your hard disk or to a file server.

Web Themes

Business users are now creating Web pages to serve many different purposes on the Internet or for their team's intranet. To make this easier, Microsoft has introduced over 30 new design themes in Office 2000. These themes come with graphical backgrounds, bullets, and other design elements that make creating Web pages in Office as straightforward as creating documents.

Web Discussions

With Office 2000, workgroup members can collaborate on projects across intranets and the Web in threaded discussions that the user can insert in any part of a document and view in a Web browser.

Outlook Web Views

When Web page links are sent to the user in e-mail, they can be opened directly within the view pane in Microsoft Outlook™, giving the user a quick look at his/her information. Likewise, with the Enhanced Outlook Bar, the user can host links to commonly visited Web pages, documents, and even applications in the Outlook toolbar.

Self-Repairing Applications

The entire installation process for Office 2000 has been upgraded not only to make the applications more resilient to installation problems, but also to add intelligence features that can fix problems that may occur. For example, if essential files have been deleted from the user's hard disk, and he/she tries to run an Office application that requires them, Office 2000 will automatically find and reinstall the missing files so the user stays up and running.

Collect and Paste

The Office 2000 Clipboard lets the user copy up to 12 different pieces of text or pictures from one or more documents, e-mail messages, Web pages, presentations, or other files at the same time and paste them into any Office application-either individually or all at once.

Floating Tables

In Microsoft Word 2000 the user can place a table anywhere within a document and wrap text around it, giving the user more freedom in their layouts. The user can also now use diagonal lines inside table cells.

Tri-Pane View

Microsoft PowerPoint® 2000 lets the user combine the slide, outline, and notes views into a single, framed screen so the user can easily and quickly create and edit slides without having to switch between views.

Language AutoDetect

For users who use multiple languages in their Office documents, Office 2000 can now automatically detect the language typed by the user and intelligently use proofing tools (like Spelling and Grammar checker and AutoCorrect) in the correct language.

Office Mail

Office 2000 integrates e-mail into each of the applications to make it easier to send Office documents electronically. Click the Office Mail icon on the Office 2000 toolbar and a mail header drops down within the application. Just fill out the mail header and click Send a Copy.

As a result of the Office 2000 development team working directly with individual users with disabilities, new accessibility features have been included. The new accessibility features include expanded keyboard access to Access relations and graphics, more natural High Contrast support within PowerPoint, customizable views available within Help (HTML Help uses the same `accessibility settings as IE), and better interaction between Excel and magnifying aids. Each one of these new accessibility features will be demonstrated.

In addition, Microsoft's Office 2000 development team worked closely with independent software vendors (ISVs) to solicit and integrate feedback on Office 2000 prior to its release. By working together with Microsoft earlier in the Office 2000 product cycle, these ISVs were in a better position to reduce the delay between the time Office 2000 was released to the public and when the needed accessibility aids were available. The Office development team has also worked to improve Office 2000's compatibility with existing accessibility aids. PC and Internet technology can help level the playing field for people with disabilities. To realize this, technology companies like Microsoft are making sure products like Office 2000 are accessible. Accessibility is a measure of success at all phases of the product development process at Microsoft. An accessibility aid will be demonstrated in this pre-conference session.


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