Microsoft will seed beta testers with the first beta of Office 99 for Windows by June 1998, with a final release expected late this year. The suite, code-named "Office 9," features a component-based substructure so that users can easily install only the features they need. Microsoft will release a second, wider beta by the end of the summer.

When Office 97 was released in early 1997, the product was well-received but most users complained of bloat. To ease this problem, the new component-based design uses a new version of IntelliSense to monitor the user's interaction with Office and store that information so that commonly-used functions are more readily available. The compentization also allows for much smaller installs and a faster-running suite.

Office 99 will be able to use Windows NT 5.0's Active Directory feature to automate Office upgrades on a network. It will also use IntelliMirror to automatically update and mirror the user's computer so that it can easily be restored if the machine crashes.

One interesting new feature in Office 99 is HTPP support so that Word users, for example, could easily open Word documents over the Internet. All of the Office applications will be updated so that they can publish their documents directly to Web servers as well