The final version of Office 12 is slated for release in mid-2006. Although Microsoft is yet to confirm what the final version of Office 12 will include, the broad areas that have been the focus of change are productivity, handling of business information, managing documents, and enhanced user-friendliness.
- All programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint have a new look. The new user interface has a ribbon of frequently used commands and operations which will enhance usability instead of drop-down menus.
- The server-based capabilities include document rights and workflow management.
- In the case of the revamped Excel, it will support SQL Server 2005 and have much-awaited features like greater spreadsheet capacity, tools for sorting and filtering, as well as extensive data visualization capabilities. The user will be able to access, analyze, and share information securely and easily not just within the system but between databases and enterprise applications.
- The new system will support sharing of workspaces and the exchange of information across corporate boundaries. Incorporating P2P capabilities, the system is all set to take a giant leap forward.
- One aspect under consideration is “out–of–the–box secure enterprise instant messaging.”
- The deeper incorporation of XML will make the system a development platform. Developers will be able to create software that interoperates with the system without hitches.
- Specially designed Contextual Command Tabs. These will only appear when a user is all set to modify a document or Excel sheet. Clicking on the page will call up the Command-Tab with relevant tools for making changes.
- Galleries is an innovation that is promoted as the ‘heart’ of the redesigned applications. In this, the user will be able to see how his document will shape up. This will simplify the process of creating professionally laid out documents.
- A system known as Live Preview is a brand new technology that will enable the user to view in a gallery the editing or changed formatting executed on a document.
- Faster document authoring will be possible with the incorporation of custom-built layouts and slide libraries. Through SharePoint, the user will also be able to store their slides and layouts in this function. The system is designed so that it can be accessed offline.
- Rapid email and document searching will become feasible through the Fast Search technology in Vista (Longhorn).
- Using innovations in integrated technologies the system will support multiparty audio, video, as well as data collaboration.
The system is designed to run on Windows XP Service Pack 2, or Longhorn client, or updated versions of windows with at least an SQL server 2000. Office 12 will support x64 platforms but it is not sure whether the support will be shipped with Office 12 or separately.
The very purpose of Office 12 according to Microsoft is to make life easy for users with better presentation, organization, and capabilities.