Q&A: Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Management Group, discusses what people and businesses can expect from the upcoming release of Microsoft Exchange Server, Office, SharePoint Server, Visio and Project.
Microsoft today announced the key capabilities and expected timeline for the next wave of Microsoft Office and related products. PressPass spoke with Chris Capossela, senior vice president of Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Management Group, to find out more about how the next version of Microsoft Office-related products will deliver a synchronized experience across devices and provide greater choice and flexibility for customers.
PressPass: What are you announcing today?
Capossela: We’re announcing that Microsoft will begin releasing new versions of Office-related products this year. Exchange 2010 will be the first product in this lineup, entering beta for customers to download today. Exchange 2010 will become available in the second half of 2009. Office 2010 — including Office Web applications, SharePoint Server 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010 — will enter a technical preview in the third quarter of 2009 and will release to manufacturing in the first half of 2010.
PressPass: What can customers expect from the next wave of Office-related products?
Capossela: We developed our new Office products in response to a shift in how people and businesses use technology today. The line between home and work has blurred, so people want more choice and flexibility in how, where and when they work. They’re also demanding the ability to access and effectively manage their information whether at home, at work or on the go. IT professionals, in particular, are challenged to deliver business value to their companies while continuing to decrease their costs. In addition, businesses need to comply with new and increasing regulatory mandates and security protocols, while also focusing on driving efficiencies.
The next wave of Office-related products will help people address these challenges. With these new products we are giving people a familiar interface across PCs, mobile phones and browsers to make it even easier for them to create, communicate and collaborate from any location. IT professionals will benefit from a choice of new delivery and new licensing models as well as from improved management options to better control costs, and enhanced security across all locations. And through our integrated infrastructure, businesses can more easily deploy, manage and help secure corporate assets and comply with government regulations.
Developers also will benefit from investments we’re making on our platform that will, in turn, reduce their development cycles and improve application interoperability. We are working on open APIs and deep support for industry standards, and at the same time, we are expanding our developer tool support, all toward making developers’ lives significantly easier.
PressPass: What are some of the new scenarios enabled by the next wave?
Capossela: By listening to our customers, we know that people want to stay connected to each other. They want an easy way to bring their ideas to life, and they want the freedom to use Office from more locations and on more devices. The next wave of Office-related products will give them just that. It will be even easier for people to create and collaborate in real time using the Web, the phone or their PC. Business users will be able to get deeper insight into their business processes, and easily find and access the information they need to be more productive. IT professionals will have more flexibility and choice to simplify deployment and lower management costs, while maintaining control. For example, Exchange 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 give users the same value whether deployed on-premises, as a service from Microsoft and industry partners, or a mix of both.
PressPass: What are some of the new things people can expect from Exchange 2010?
Capossela: Ray Ozzie’s software-plus-services memo served as the foundation for the development of Exchange 2010. We started testing Exchange 2010 as a service in October 2007, through Office Outlook Live for the Microsoft [email protected] program to ensure that it met the scalability needs of our largest customers. It continues today with more than five million people in over 2,000 educational institutions. This new testing model makes Exchange 2010 the most scalable version of Exchange yet — and that means that maintenance and administration costs will be lower than ever before.
Among the new benefits that help people save time and money, Exchange 2010 introduces a personal e-mail archive to not only address compliance and regulatory needs by making mail easier to manage and search across the organization, but which frees up space on production servers and improves performance. Customers can lower costs by replacing their traditional voice mail system with Exchange 2010’s unified messaging solution that now provides text previews of voice mail messages so users may act upon them accordingly, directly from their mailbox. It also introduces new capabilities through Outlook 2010 that combine related messages into a single conversation with the added option to remove oneself from irrelevant e-mail threads. Another addition is the new Mail Tips feature, which will warn users from making embarrassing missteps before they hit send on problem e-mails — such as accidentally e-mailing a big distribution list or sending e-mail when a recipient is out of office, not to mention reducing extra steps and calls to the helpdesk. Those are features I’m sure we can all appreciate.
In addition, furthering Microsoft’s commitment to its software-plus-services strategy, Exchange 2010 also integrates Office Outlook Web Access with Office Communicator Web Access for a unified browser-based client that is now accessible through Safari and Firefox in addition to Internet Explorer. This means users get the same rich e-mail experience whether using Outlook on the PC, a mobile phone or through their browser.
PressPass: How will these new products specifically improve interoperability?
Capossela: Promoting interoperability has been a high priority for Microsoft. This new wave of products is an important milestone in our commitment to interoperability principles. We believe these efforts will provide greater transparency and clarity to help our partners develop innovative solutions and products that work with Office. There are two ways we are achieving this. First, we are implementing new document format standards and have dedicated product engineering resources to deliver technical documentation for in-market and future Office-related products. Second, we have published implementation notes and a great deal of technical documentation through our Open Specification Promise so third parties can develop products that work with Microsoft Office-related products. In 2008 alone, we published about 20,000 pages of documentation related to protocols and formats used by Microsoft Office, Exchange and SharePoint Server.
Our teams have also been working on updating this documentation for the next version of our products. As a result of our investments in interoperability, our engineers also have established great new best practices, which have significantly improved product testing, security and integration with third-party products.
PressPass: When should we expect to see and hear more from you about the next version?
Capossela: We are really pleased with the potential of the next version of Office-related products and excited about the value that they will bring to our customers. You will see much more from us in the coming months. I think that all of our customers — people who use Office at home or at work, IT professionals, developers, and businesses of all sizes — will be thrilled about the choice, flexibility and enriched experience that these products will deliver across all types of devices.
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