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Project 2010 Products Announced at Microsoft Event

The Microsoft Project Conference 2009 event kicked off in Phoenix on Wednesday with new details about the next generation of Microsoft's software products for project planning.

First, Microsoft announced that it will release a public beta of Microsoft Project 2010 sometime later this year. Next, the company plans to reduce the number of editions from four to three. Those three editions include Microsoft Project 2010 Standard, Professional and Server.

Microsoft plans to extend its Fluent user interface, or "Ribbon" UI -- first seen in Microsoft Office 2007 -- in the new Project 2010 products.

"We have made the product dramatically easier to use for the average Office user, and we have broadened the functionality to meet the needs of a variety of users," said Seth Patton, senior director of product marketing for Microsoft Project, in a telephone interview. "You will see lots of standardized features, such as the Fluent user interface [Ribbon] that make commands easy to discover, and more."

The new planning apps will integrate with Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010, enabling collaboration capabilities. Project 2010 will also sync with Outlook 2007 and 2010.

"Project 2010 will provide a great experience for PCs, browsers and mobile devices," said Patton. "We've integrated it with many other Microsoft technologies to provide a simple user environment that can be used to manage complex projects from anywhere."

Project Server 2010, which rides atop SharePoint Server in the stack, has been beefed up in the new offering to include Portfolio Server, which was a separate product in Microsoft's 2007 release. Project Server 2010 also will enable user-controlled scheduling as a decision support tool that can be accessed from a browser, according to Patton.

The client versions of Project 2010 will run on Windows 7, Vista and XP. Server requirements include Project Server 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010. Hosted versions of the product will be available through Microsoft's hosting partner network that currently supports Project 2007, Patton said.

Microsoft Project is now used by more than 10,000 customers, with north of 20 million users, according to Patton.

"We have quietly become the leader in project management and are in the top ten [business units] at Microsoft," Patton said. "This major release comes at a time when businesses of all sizes are looking for management efficiencies, and project management provides the tools to analyze, select, plan and deliver viable projects."

The public beta of Microsoft Project 2010 will be available in the fall. Release to manufacturing is scheduled for the first half of 2010, and can be preordered from Microsoft as of today.

About the Author

Herb Torrens is an award-winning freelance writer based in Southern California. He managed the MCSP program for a leading computer telephony integrator for more than five years and has worked with numerous solution providers including HP/Compaq, Nortel, and Microsoft in all forms of media.

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