Microsoft has several ambitious goals for the next version of Office, its desktop applications suite: enhance user collaborative options, leverage rich-voice technology, and further the company's foray into the application-hosting arena. Its code-name, Office 10, could point to a Mac release soon after Apple starts shipping Mac OS X (pronounced 'ten').
Office 10 is scheduled to go into beta testing this summer and to ship sometime in 2000, according to sources. When Microsoft released Office 98 for the Mac, it stated that new versions would ship first on alternate platforms. That said, many of the technologies reported are Windows-based, rather than aimed at the Macintosh.
Microsoft wants to reshape Office to better accommodate workgroup and collaborative applications, according to analysts familiar with the company's plans.
Hoping to push speech technology beyond a desktop novelty into a serious user interface, Microsoft is leveraging its partnership with speech technology company Lernout & Hauspie to integrate full voice control in Office 10. The new version will integrate full voice control of all Office functions such as save, file, and print, and will include speech-to-text capability for dictation and text-to-speech capability for reading email, sources said.
Microsoft declined to comment on Office 10.
Bob Trott, Ed Scannell, and Ephraim Schwartz contributed to this article.