The first version of Microsoft Office was released 20 years ago this year.
This package of software was launched in 1989 and available for Macintosh OS, then MS-DOS in 1990.
Back then, it included Word 4.0, Excel 2.2, and PowerPoint 2.01 all of which had previously been released separately.
It was produced on both standard disks and CD-ROM.
A year later, Microsoft Office was later released for Windows, which precipitated its huge success as a product for the workplace and personal use, as well as schools and universities.
The package included Excel 2.0, Word 2.1 and PowerPoint 2.0 and helped to propel Microsoft to $1 billion ($610 million) of sales in a single year, the first personal computer software company to achieve this.
The versatility of the suite has meant that it can just as easily be used by secretarial staff with specialist skills as people producing documents or spreadsheets at home.
Its importance in the workplace has led to providers offering secretary courses with Microsoft Outlook in London and Manchester and more specific training for individual programmes, such as Word 2007 courses.
In fact, there are very few people who will not have come across Microsoft Office at some stage, or are not familiar with the basics of using at least one of the components, whether that is Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook.
This very article is being written in Word.
Since its launch in 1989, the software has been released in various incarnations for a range of operating systems and with numerous updates and additions.
Over two decades after it was first released, the latest version of the software, Microsoft 2010, is set to be released, which is likely to interest secretarial staff.
The software company began unveiling details of the new package in July at the Worldwide Partner Conference, where it announced that the 2010 version had reached the technical preview stage.
This is the stage before it is released to the public in Beta form.
“From broadcast and video editing in PowerPoint, new data visualisation capabilities in Excel, and co-authoring in Word, we are delivering technology to help people work smarter and faster from virtually any location using any device,” revealed Chris Capossela, senior vice president of the Microsoft Business Division at Microsoft.
With these technical updates being brought in, administrative workers and secretarial staff may be wanting to retrain to get to grips with the latest updates, perhaps taking Microsoft Office courses in London.
The company promised that the latest version will provide “new levels of flexibility and choice” for users.
One of the areas which will see significant changes is Microsoft Outlook 2010, which will have advanced email management and calendaring capabilities, including the option for users to ignore unwanted threads.
In addition, the Office 2010 web applications will include lightweight versions of Word, PowerPoint and Excel, which will allow users to access documents from virtually anywhere.
These will still preserve the look and feel or a document regardless of device, making them particularly useful for the busy Executive PA who is constantly on the move.
3D Displays And Prototypes.
As far as Microsoft’s vision for the future is concerned, productivity is key.
Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division, gave a speech to Wharton Business Technology Conference, in which he spoke about the company’s vision for what software will look like in ten years time.
The firm is already developing prototype technology which will make the way we use software much more dynamic and interactive.
One of these innovations is Plex, which allows the user to browse, click, zoom and pan around a virtual canvas to showcase concepts, charts and videos in a more visual way.
Microsoft developers have already come up with Plex prototypes for PowerPoint and these are available for secretarial staff to try at OfficeLabs.com.
“Just imagine all of the wonderful applications for this technology, including the many compelling applications for the work environment, authoring and editing digital content is as easy and natural as having a conversation,” Mr Elop said.
“When composing a document you will become more of an orchestrator than an author. You no longer need to search for facts and data to support your ideas, they will offer themselves up to you with meaningful context. That’s where we’re heading,” he explained.
A major innovation which Microsoft expects to see introduced within the next decade is 3D transparent display. “These are the types of things that are really beginning to happen,” Mr Elop insisted.