Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Microsoft Office is a suite of productivity programs created by Microsoft and developed for Microsoft Windows and Apple Macintosh operating systems. As well as the office applications, it includes associated servers and Web-based services.
Office is considered to be the de facto standard for productivity programs, and has many features not present in other suites. However, the reverse is also true, with other programs having capabilities Office doesn't.
Essential Programs on Windows Platform
Microsoft Word is a word processor. It is considered to be the main program of Office. It possesses a dominant market share in the word processor market. Its proprietary DOC format is considered a de facto standard, although its most recent version, Word 2003, also supports an XML-based format. Word is also available in some editions of Microsoft Works. It is available for the Windows and Macintosh platforms. Its main competitors are OpenOffice.org Writer, StarOffice and Corel WordPerfect.
Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program. Like Microsoft Word, it possesses a dominant market share. It was originally a competitor to the dominant Lotus 1-2-3 but it eventually outsold it and became the de facto standard. It is available for the Windows and Macintosh platforms. Its main competitors are OpenOffice.org Calc, StarOffice and Corel Quattro Pro.
Microsoft Outlook, not to be confused with Outlook Express, is a personal information manager and e-mail communication software. The replacement for Microsoft Mail starting in the 1997 version of Office, it includes an e-mail client, calendar, task manager and address book. Its email program's main competitors are Mozilla Thunderbird/Mozilla and Eudora. Its personal information manager's main competitors are Mozilla and Lotus Organizer. It is available for Windows; a version is also included with most Pocket PC handhelds. Its Macintosh equivalent is Microsoft Entourage.
Microsoft PowerPoint is a popular presentation program for Windows and Macintosh. It is used to create slideshows, composed of text, graphics, movies and other objects, which can be displayed on-screen and navigated through by the presenter or printed out on transparencies or slides. It possesses a dominant market share. Its main competitors are OpenOffice.org Impress and Corel WordPerfect.
Other programs and Web-based services sometimes included
- Microsoft Access – database manager. For the 2003 version, included in Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003, and Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003.
- Microsoft Binder – incorporates several documents into one file.
- Binder was a major flop for Microsoft, and is not very widely used. Newer versions of Office often do not include it for this reason.
- Microsoft Entourage – Personal information manager and communication software for Apple Macintosh only (similar to Outlook).
- Virtual PC – emulation software; see also VMware, QEMU, Bochs, etc.
- Microsoft Publisher – Desktop publishing software. For the 2003 version, included in Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003, Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003, and Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003.
- Microsoft FrontPage – web design software (also requires its own server program). For the 2003 version, included in Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003, and Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003.
- Microsoft Internet Explorer – web browser.
- Microsoft Visio – diagram software.
- Microsoft MapPoint – mapping and travel planning software.
- Microsoft Office Picture Manager – basic photo management software (similar to a basic version of Google's Picasa or Adobe's Photoshop Elements).
- Microsoft Photo Editor – photo editing/raster graphics software in older Office versions.
- Microsoft Project – project manager.
- Microsoft Mail – mail client (in old versions of Office, later replaced by Microsoft Outlook).
- Microsoft Outlook Express – mail client (in Office 98 Macintosh Edition, later replaced by Microsoft Entourage).
- Microsoft OneNote – note taking software for use with tablet PCs or regular PCs.
- Microsoft InfoPath – application that enables users to design rich XML-based forms. Included in Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003.
- Live Communication Server – real time communication software.
- Microsoft Office Online – Web site. Included in all versions of Microsoft Office 2003.
- Microsoft Office Update – Web site. Patch detection and installation service for Office 2000, XP, and 2003. - 
- Microsoft Office Communicator 2005 - 
- Developer Tools – (only included with developer editions)
Beginning with the 1997 edition, Microsoft Agent (in 2000 and up) and a similar actor technology (in 97) have been used to provide the Office Assistant, sometimes dubbed "Clippy" or "Clippit", an interactive help tool.
Also, beginning with Office 1998, the Macintosh and Windows versions of Office share the same file format. Consequently, any Macintosh with Office 1998 or later can read documents created with Office 1997 or later, and vice-versa.
Office 2003 introduced a new, optional file format for the entire suite, built on XML technology. Office X for Mac is also built to handle this file format.
The Windows version of Microsoft Office 2003 is available in six editions. These are:
- Microsoft Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003 (MSRP New User Price $149 US)
- Microsoft Office Basic Edition 2003 (bundled with new computers only)
- Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003 (MSRP New User Price $399 US; Upgrade Price $239 US)
- Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 (MSRP New User Price $449 US; Upgrade Price $279 US)
- Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 (MSRP New User Price $499 US; Upgrade Price $329 US)
- Microsoft Office Professional Enterprise Edition 2003 (volume licensing only)
The Macintosh version, Microsoft Office for Mac 2004, is available in three editions. All include Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Entourage. They are identical except for pricing and the inclusion of Virtual PC in the Professional Edition.
- Office for Mac 2004 Standard Edition (MSRP New User Price $399 US; Upgrade Price $239 US)
- Office for Mac 2004 Student and Teacher Edition (MSRP New User Price $149 US)
- Office for Mac 2004 Professional Edition (MSRP New User Price $499 US; Upgrade Price $329 US)
Microsoft develops Office primarily for Windows and secondarily for Macintosh. However, most versions of the suite can also be run on Unix-like operating systems through the use of a compatibility layer such as CrossOver Office or WINE.
As a general rule of thumb, the older, simpler versions do tend to run considerably better on Wine; however, newer versions have been known to work as well.
Major Microsoft Windows versions
- Office 3.0 (CD-ROM version: Word 2.0c, Excel 4.0a, PowerPoint 3.0, Mail) - released 30-Aug-1993
- Office 4.0 (Word 6.0, Excel 4.0, PowerPoint 3.0) - released 17-Jan-1994
- Office for NT 4.2 (Word 6.0 [32-bit, i386 and Alpha], Excel 5.0 [32-bit, i386 and Alpha], PowerPoint 4.0 [16-bit], "Microsoft Office Manager") - released 3-Jul-1994
- Office 4.3 (The last 16-bit version; Word 6.0, Excel 5.0, PowerPoint 4.0 and in the pro version: Access 2.0) - released 2-Jun-1994
- Office 95 (Word 95, etc.) - released 30-Aug-1995; not very widely used.
- Office 97 (Word 97, etc.) - released 30-Dec-1996 (was published on CD-ROM as well as on a set of 45 3½-inch floppy disks)
- Office 2000 (Word 2000, etc.) - released 27-Jun-1999
- Office XP (Word 2002, etc.) - released 31-May-2001
- Office 2003 (Word 2003, etc.) - released 17-Nov-2003
There have been variants of the later versions such as Small Business Edition, Student and Teacher Edition, Professional Edition and Developer Edition with slightly different collections of applications.
Apple Macintosh versions
- Office 1 (Word 3, etc.)
- Office 2 (Word 4, etc.)
- Office 3 (Word 5, etc.)
- Office 4.2 (The first Power Mac-aware version; Word 6.0, etc.) - released 2-Jun-1994
- Office 98 (Word 98, etc.) - released 15-Mar-1998
- Office 2001 (Word 2001, etc.) - released 11-Oct-2000
- Office v.X (The first Mac OS X/Aqua edition; Word X, etc.) - released 3-Sep-2001
- Office 2004 (Word 2004, etc.) - released 13-Jul-2004
A major feature of applications in the Office suite is the ability for users and third party companies to write Office COM add-ins. Component Object Model (COM) add-ins are supplemental programs that extend the capabilities of an application by adding custom commands and specialized features that can accommodate specific tasks.
For some reason, most versions of Microsoft Office (including 97 and later, and possibly 4.3) use their own widget set, and as a result do not blend in with the native operating system.
Whereas Windows uses "Service Packs", Office used to release "Service Releases". However, after Office 2000 Service Release 1, Office now only release Service Packs.
- OpenOffice.org and StarOffice have secured 14% of the large enterprise market with Microsoft Office leading by a big margin with 95% of the general market. 
- WordPerfect Office by Corel
- GNOME Office (Open Source)
- KOffice (Open source)
- WPS Office (Chinese)
- AppleWorks/ClarisWorks (Apple Macintosh)
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