The next version of Microsoft Office, currently known as Office 10, will be a bit lighter than expected when it ships late in the second quarter of 2001. Microsoft is dropping a couple of Outlook 10 features that haven't tested well: the Local Web Storage System and Office Designer. After evaluating feedback from Office 10 testers and business partners, Microsoft decided that these features didn't meet the level of quality and reliability customers expect from Office. "We are currently evaluating the future direction for the functionality provided in these features and will provide you with more information about this direction at a later date," a Microsoft spokesperson said.

The Local Web Storage System was an Information Store (IS) for Outlook data and provided a local counterpart to the Web Storage System in Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server and SharePoint Portal Server (formerly code-named Tahoe). The system would have let Outlook 10 users access all their Exchange Server information when offline or traveling, then would have automatically synchronized that data with Exchange 2000 when users reconnected to the network.

Outlook 10 will offer several performance improvements. A new Cancel feature will enable a user to cancel a request to Exchange Server if the user's network connection is disabled, making Outlook 10 more resilient during network and server disruptions. Server connections will also be more efficient and resilient, resulting in quicker email downloads. And Outlook 10 will synchronize more easily with Exchange 2000, using a new offline mode that supports simultaneous synchronization of all mail protocols (i.e., IMAP, POP, and Messaging APIā€”MAPI). Outlook 10 also offers enhanced synchronization setup on a per-mailbox-account basis so that users can choose which email information (e.g., headers only) to synchronize.

Microsoft had targeted Office Designer at professional developers who want to create Exchange 2000-based collaborative solutions. The company said that developers can still use Visual Studio (VS), Office, ADO/OLE DB, XML, and WWW Distributed Authoring and Versioning (WebDAV) to target the Web Storage System in Exchange 2000 and Share-Point Portal Server. And new services in Exchange 2000 will let developers easily add collaborative features to existing applications.