TCS - A Trip Down Microsoft Office History Lane

A Trip Down Microsoft Office History Lane
Another Day At The Office...2003

by Bruce Pechman, The Muscleman of TechnologySM
Vice President, Atlanta PC Users Group
From the November 2003 issue of the I/O Port Newsletter

With the imminent release of Office 2003, and the newly branded Microsoft Office System, I started to ponder the Office family pedigree from a historical perspective. It seems there are so many configurations, releases, editions, and individual applications that make up the Microsoft Office System family. I wanted some answers to some very pressing questions. Instead of reviewing Office 2003, I uncovered and compiled some interesting anecdotes and facts about the Office family pedigree in general. You will probably see oodles of reviews about Office 2003 ad nauseam in the months to come, so sit back and enjoy the "sideshow." I would like to thank Lisa Robbins with Waggener Edstrom and Aaron Ricadela from Information Week for providing me with historical information that made this article possible.

Let's start off with a trip down memory lane for some Microsoft Office firsts. According to a Microsoft white paper "Key Events In Microsoft History," the very first incarnation of Microsoft Word took place on 9/29/83. On this date, Microsoft introduced its full-featured word processing program, Microsoft Word for MS-DOS 1.00. OK, that might be too far back, but the first release of Microsoft Excel for Windows occurred on 10/6/87. Excel was a smash hit and just nine years later on 5/17/96, Microsoft reported that more than 30 million people worldwide use Microsoft Excel-making it the most popular spreadsheet program of all time. Wondering about the roots of PowerPoint? PowerPoint was actually developed by a company called Forethought, Inc. and was acquired by Microsoft on 7/30/87. Speaking of PowerPoint, according to the Nerdy Books newsletter, "there are over 250 million PowerPoint users and approximately 30 million presentations are given every day." For you database fans, Microsoft announced the availability of Access Database for Windows on 11/16/92 at Fall Comdex.

Now let's test your memory skills. How many versions of Office for the Windows platform have been released? Would you believe seven! Sure-many of you knew about Office 97, 2000, Office XP and certainly the new Office 2003. But the other 3 lesser known are Office 3.x, 4.x, and of course, Office 95. For you trivia fans, Outlook first appeared in Office 97. Another first for Office 97 is what became known as the Office "Developer Edition." This edition was aimed at developers to learn how to build solutions with the new features of Microsoft Office 97. There are over one million developers who use Microsoft Office to build business solutions. In fact, according David Bennie, group Manager at Microsoft, there are about 245 million people worldwide that use Office products. It's no mystery that Microsoft makes up 90% of the Office Suite market. Office 2000 introduced the option of a "Premium Edition" that bundled some previously stand-alone applications such as Publisher, Front Page, and PhotoDraw.

By the way, not included in Microsoft Office, but still considered in the "Office Family," are Microsoft Project (first announced on 9/18/95), Microsoft Visio, and Microsoft MapPoint. If you are wondering about Microsoft PhotoDraw, Waggener Edstrom confirmed that no new versions are planned and the PhotoDraw team has been deployed to work on future Microsoft .Net technologies. New programs, depending upon the edition of Office 2003 you choose are InfoPath and OneNote.

You know the irony of all this nostalgia is these dates don't seem all that long ago yet according to CNET, Office and other desktop applications accounted for 37 percent of Microsoft's $6.46 billion revenue in one quarter. According to Microsoft in 2001, approximately 55 percent of the world's 120 million licensed Office customers still have the 97 version. Approximately 5 percent have Office 95, and the remaining 40 percent have Office 2000.

The future of the Office franchise is still very much a subject of speculation, but industry analysts say there is a good chance the next Office version may go by the moniker "Office.Net" and possibly adhere to the .Net platform's subscription-based services model.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. This article is brought to you by the Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member.

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