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Gates, Raikes To Preside Over Long-Awaited Office 2003 Launch

The iWave is about to crest. Finally.

On Tuesday, after months of delays, Office Systems 2003 will launch officially. And Microsoft will do its utmost to show why that the collection of Office applications, plus tighter links to back end systems, should break the IT purchase logjam.

The big event, fronted by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, will take place right off Broadway, exactly where Microsoft rolled out Office 4 a decade ago. But, the primary goal will be to show that Office System 2003, is more than just another Office. For one thing, it encompasses Exchange Server 2003 and Outlook 2003, for tighter mail integration from the applications; SharePoint Portal Server 2003 for easier collaboration and information sharing; InfoPath for links to back office systems; and, OneNote for note-taking. (For more on the iWave click here.)

"This is a lot more than new buttons on the toolbar," said Gytis Barzdukas, director of Office Product Management told CRN on Monday.

Microsoft has to show businesses real value in upgrading, he noted. Towards that end, it will trot out Microsoft-sponsored research by Navigant Consulting showing the advantages of updating to Office 2003 for "information workers." . The study, of 14 companies, claims that the median payback on Office 2003 investment is eight months.

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