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Microsoft reveal latest Office update

The beta version of Microsoft's office productivity suite, code named Office 10, has been released

Microsoft has released the first test version of it’s Office productivity suite. The latest update, code-named Office 10, will feature XML support, web-based collaboration tools, content management tools, speech recognition and many other improvements.

"This is the most ambitious and significant Office product release ever," said Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of Office at Microsoft.

"The breadth of customer solutions we are delivering in this product exceeds any previous version of Office, and the innovations we are making will truly enhance the way people work and communicate."

The initial Beta version is intended to meet Microsoft’s new ‘.net’ vision of an Internet-enabled applications, and will be tailored to be suitable for application service providers.

The most prominent net-enabled features are the online collaboration functions. Document handling and workflow has been improved to allow better review of documents, and teams will now be able to create ‘workspaces’, simple websites that can be used to host and manage contact lists, calendars and announcements and discussion groups.

Support for XML is extended to Access and Excel to allow import and export of XML data directly into these applications. Excel also gets improved web components to allow publishing of spreadsheets to the web.

Another prominent web-enabled feature is the addition of ‘smart tags’. These tags will appear on screen as the user is working to provide links to other Office applications or to access data from the web – for example, a name and address entered in Word can be automatically entered into Outlook, or a stock symbol will launch a tag to online stocks information.

Office 10 will also feature improved security and stability features, with enhancements to document recovery and error reporting, and a task pane to guide users to make more use of the functions available.

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