Aust Office 2003 availability announced

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Microsoft has confirmed Office Systems 2003 will be available to Australian resellers from 22 October, according to local Office product manager Tony Wilkinson said.

US sources have said that the Office Small Business Edition 2003 – including Publisher 2003 and Outlook 2003 with Business Contact Manager – is expected to be US$449 or US$279 as an upgrade.

US retail pricing for the Office SKUs is unchanged from Office XP. The Student & Teacher Edition will be US$149, Standard Edition US$399 and Professional Edition US$499. Upgrades are typically US$50 to US$70 less, they said.

The new Exchange Server will be US$3,999 for the enterprise edition, or US$699 for standard edition. The upcoming SharePoint Portal Server 2003 will be US$5,619 for the server plus five client access licenses, US sources said.

A spokesperson for Microsoft Australia said Australian retail pricing for the Microsoft Office Systems 2003 Editions will be announced by the end of August.

Microsoft Australia has also announced four new partner initiatives which the company claims are aimed at helping ISVs, system integrators and service providers develop and deploy the software suite.

Microsoft said its new Office System Solution Directory initiative offers partners the opportunity to showcase their Office-based offerings free to customers and Microsoft representatives around the world.

Microsoft Office System Partner Solution Builder Program offers partners training vehicles, development support and marketing opportunities, the company said.

A new Office Marketplace section has been created on the Office Website that allows customers to search for products and services related to Office Systems 2003. Listings are free, the company said.

For ISVs, the Microsoft Smart Client Readiness Program will from late August incorporate developer resources using Microsoft “smart” client technologies such as Microsoft Office System and Pocket PCs, the company said.

“Our customers want to access their information in whatever system it resides, improve efficiencies in their key business processes and work more easily with other people. The solutions we - and partners - are building with the Microsoft Office System will help our customers do that and more,” Microsoft Australia's Wilkinson said.

Office Systems 2003 products will be available via volume licensing on 1 September in the US and the SKUs are expected to hit retail shelves there 21 October, US sources said.

Office Professional Enterprise Edition will be available in the US only through volume license plans and will include InfoPath, which links desktop applications with back-office data and processes.

Other Office Systems applications include Microsoft Project 2003, the OneNote note-taking application, new versions of Visio and Project, and Office Professional SKU database Access.

There are tight dependencies between these applications and the Windows Server 2003 operating system and Exchange Server 2003 e-mail, sources said.

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