Knowledge workers unite!
June 3, 1999
by David Essex
(IDG) -- Microsoft has begun unveiling a set of software products and technologies designed to make information flow more easily through corporations, turning employees into "knowledge workers without limits" by making it easier for them to find, create, and exchange information without worrying about its physical location or format.
But two market analysts, while applauding the effort, say it's an attempt to catch up with Lotus's market-leading Notes/Domino, which is generally regarded as a better e-mail and document platform than any of Microsoft's server-based products.
Microsoft Chair Bill Gates outlined the knowledge-worker concept at a May 19 meeting with corporate CEOs, and last week Senior Vice President Bob Muglia put flesh on the bones, announcing four product initiatives at Microsoft's Tech Ed 99 conference in Dallas.
Dash it all
For users, the key component is the "digital dashboard," a portable personal interface for creating and viewing critical information such as calendars, e-mail messages, news, and corporate documents.
Digital dashboards can be created with development tools in the Microsoft Office 2000 suite and will conform to the Web's HTML and XML formats. They're designed to be accessible from nearly any location on multiple devices such as cellular phones, pagers, and handheld computers.
"We want to provide the flexibility and ability to create a personalized view for the end user," says Gytis Barzdukas, lead product manager for Microsoft's Exchange Server e-mail software.
Underpinning the dashboard will be a new version of Microsoft's Exchange messaging server, code-named Platinum. This is the platform for a new "Web Store" of applications, files, and documents. New search software, code-named Tahoe, provides links to the dashboard.
Though a partial beta version of Platinum has been released to selected developers, neither will ship before Windows 2000. (Microsoft will not name a delivery date for Win 2000.) The first of the Office 2000 development tools, workflow software code-named Grizzly, will be available in the second half of this year.
David Marshak, a vice president at the Seybold Group, says Platinum will be "extremely powerful" for software developers because it simplifies the job of interacting with multiple programs and file formats.
Eric Brown, senior analyst at Forrester Research, says the Web Store will democratize Web publishing. "The professionals are going to be joined by the average Joe. Everybody's a publisher."
Both said Microsoft is also using the initiatives to help Exchange catch up with Notes/Domino for creating Web documents.
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