Dubbing it the "beginning of the digital decade," Microsoft's Bill Gates announced the launch of Office XP, the company's most Internet-savvy office suite to date.
Gates opened Office XP for business during a keynote address at the Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom by plugging the program's close ties to Microsoft Web sites, as well as its access to third-party services.
Office XP is also important because it is a stepping-stone to the company's long-term plans for wide-ranging Web services that will fall under the umbrella term .Net, Gates said.
"For us [Office XP] is just the beginning of our .Net strategy--allowing people to access any information, at any time, on any device," Gates said.
The Office XP launch here was one of 100 worldwide, and the megasuite is now on sale in 15 countries. For US buyers, a full version of Office XP Standard will run $US479; the upgrade is $239. It ships with 2002 versions of Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint.
The Professional version includes Access 2002 and costs $US579, or $329 for an upgrade. An XP Professional Special Edition upgrade is available for a limited time for existing Professional Office customers. The $479 Office suite includes 2002 versions of FrontPage and SharePoint Team Services, Publisher, and a Microsoft IntelliMouse.
Gates, Microsoft's chair and chief software architect, trotted out a handful of well-known executives from companies upgrading to Office XP, including Jeff Bezos, the chief executive office of Amazon.com, and executives from Ford, Turner Broadcasting System, and United Parcel Service of America.
Gates also shared the stage with one other notable personality: Clippy. The reviled animated paper clip from earlier versions of Office, voiced by actor Gilbert Gottfried, is now a marketing mascot for Office XP. Microsoft has, however, kept its pledge to keep the character out of the default installation of Office XP.
More details on the Australian launch to follow.