LAW OFFICE COMPUTING
Microsoft Office is the HIT of the Year
At the Law Office Of The Future Project my students and I have been testing Microsoft Office2000 in its beta versions. We all agree that it is a terrific product that greatly expands the power of standard office software. Since May we have been testing the final production version of Office2000 and the glitches that we found in the beta software are simply no longer there. This is the most stable, fast and powerful office software I have ever seen. It is, quite simply, a joy to use. Office2000 is the first office application suite designed from the ground up to be integrated in to offices with full-time access to the World Wide Web. In the next year I expect that most of us will have a high-speed full-time connection to the Internet, which will allow the true power of Office2000 to be both understood and appreciated. But even if you donít have a cable modem or DSL connection to the Internet, Office2000 remains a quantum leap into the 21st century. It needs to be placed on your early acquisition li
Office2000 comes in several versions. The Standard edition contains Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. The Small Business edition drops PowerPoint but adds Publisher, and the Professional Edition adds Access and PowerPoint. Finally, the Premium Edition includes the FrontPage Web site creation tool and the new PhotoDraw graphics program. Office2000 takes up a minimum of 189 megabytes of hard disk space and requires at least a 75-megahertz Pentium processor with 32 or more megabytes of memory, but that is really a minimum. It runs much better and faster on more powerful machines. I have been testing Office 2000 on a Dell Pentium III with 256 megabytes of RAM and to be frank, it makes my jaw drop.
Office 2000 was designed from the ground up to enable offices to utilize HTML based Internet browser technology as a core application feature. Every one of the Office 2000 applications allows you to save a file in HTML format directly to a Web page with a simple mouse click. Whether that Web page resides on an Internet server or is on your office server makes no difference. It thus becomes incredibly easy to develop a WAN or LAN based private intranet site at very low cost. It is now possible to get high quality web server space for less than $10 a month and that will drive offices of all kinds to the Internet in droves. When you combine high-speed access and Office 2000, the World Wide Web becomes so compelling that you will not be able to resist it. But I say donít delay. You can put up a web site on your office server and start your firm intranet in a few hours. Because your access to the local area network will be high speed you will quickly develop the web-centric mindset that will propel you forward into the internetworked world of today.
Every one of the programs in Office 2000 is improved in some substantial way. These improvements are not just incremental; they are instead a product of the conscious design goals adopted by the Office2000 team. Word2000 is now the consummate word processor. Access2000 is a completely new and powerful product. And my favorite tool, PowerPoint is greatly improved. PowerPoint2000 presentations are empowered in a special way. Because PowerPoint presentations often consume a great deal of space, they tend to runs slowly when put on an Internet site. The new technology of Office2000 greatly reduces the size of these files and allows them to be run directly from an Internet site by anyone with a Web browser. The latter point is significant because allows the distribution of PowerPoint presentations without requiring the viewer to have any special software. Until now this kind of distribution required the user to download a special PowerPoint program that allow them to view the presentation. Not only did that consume time but it also presented a barrier to many potential users. If you would like to see what PowerPoint can do you can visit my personal Web site at http://www.wintonwoods.com where you can see several extensive PowerPoint presentations. The only limitation imposed is that you must have Microsoft Explorer 4.0 or better to view the presentations on my web site. PowerPoint does give you the option of uploading in a format viewable in Netscape and older version of Internet Explorer but the speed advantage is lost. If you have Microsoft Explorer 5.0 it will greatly increase the efficiency of the online presentation. Since Explorer 5 is taking the world by storm I chose speed over ubiquity on the assumption that soon most people will be able to access the presentations. I have a link on my Web page that will allow you to download Explorer 5.0.
The core of the Office 2000 suite is Outlook2000. In the past few years Outlook has become the Desktop Information Manager of choice in many large organizations. Outlook 2000 should make the Revolution complete. The new version is much smoother and faster. It has a terrific ability to request a return receipt when you send an email message and many other small features that reflect an understanding of how people in electronic offices really work. It integrates beautifully with all of the Office 2000 applications so that you can directly send a spreadsheet, a PowerPoint presentation or a Word document using Internet email. In the next few months, Outlook will become the foundation for new document management applications being developed by Eastman Software and when that happens it will become a powerful competitor to Lotus Notes. Even now, however, the improvements in the file management component of Office 2000 are such that you may not even need formal document management software. It is not hard to manage documents on a file server using the built in tools provided. And if you choose to save documents in HTML you greatly expand your document access universe and start down the road to the virtual paperless office.
In keeping with the Web centric theme of Office2000, Word 2000 becomes a very functional and easy to use Web page editor. You can create Web pages directly in Word 2000 or edit pages created in other programs. The premium Edition has two other Web page creation tools of note. Publisher 2000 has web page templates that make even the most uncreative among us into Web page mavens. And, if you really are serious about building Web pages FrontPage 2000 is the best Web page building tool I have ever seen.
The bottom line is that if you are thinking about building an intranet for your office network or putting up an office web page so that your office establishes a presence on the Internet, Office2000 is the tool you need. It will allow every person in your office to become a player in the new world of the Internet. And by the way, Office2000 is designed to integrate smoothly with WordPerfect 2000 so that those in your office who prefer to do their word processing in WordPerfect can continue to do so while enjoying the benefits of the other Office2000 programs. For its part, WordPerfect has consciously made WordPerfect 2000 compatible with Office2000 so the integration of the two products is complete.
Office2000 will be available in the middle of June 1999. You can upgrade from any Microsoft office product at a very reasonable price. This is truly software for the new century and you should have it in your office.