Microsoft releases new version of Office, called XP

Thursday, May 31st 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SEATTLE (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. launched the latest version of Office, its flagship business software system, on Thursday with more than 100 marketing events throughout the country.

An estimated 250 million people already use a version of Microsoft Office, but that doesn't mean the market is too saturated for the new version, called XP, said chief executive Steve Ballmer.

``We have a a lot of users. And users want to be able to use more, get more done, collaborate with others better,'' he said.

Ballmer, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and other executives spent the day touting new Office XP features such as SharePoint, which allows employees to share information over a company's intranet, and task panes, which give users easy access to recently used documents and options.

Office products account for nearly 30 percent of Microsoft's revenue.

Office XP is immediately available in 15 countries. The basic program will sell for $239 as an upgrade and $479 for new users. A full-featured upgrade also sells for $479.

Rob Enderle, a research fellow with Giga Information Systems who tracks Microsoft, said he has seen low demand for the product. Some questioned whether users will want pricey upgrades in a weakening economy, especially since many recently upgraded to Office 2000.

Jean W. Orr, an analyst who covers Microsoft for BlueStone Capital, said she expects Office XP to be successful, but it may not sell immediately.

``There's not a compelling reason or reasons for users to upgrade, so I think they'll upgrade to Office XP when they upgrade their other systems, as opposed to going out and buying it right away,'' Orr said.