Microsoft Corporation on Tuesday announced the immediate availability of the newest member of the Microsoft Office family of products, Vizact 2000, which the company says allows users to communicate more effectively by adding the dynamic and engaging features of the Web to their HTML documents. Vizact works with something Microsoft calls "Active Documents," documents that use the dynamic nature of the Web to help communicate in new ways, using multimedia functionality such as timing, animation and interactivity. Of course, users will need to have Internet Explorer 5.0 to take advantage of these features.

"Vizact 2000 reinvents what people can do with documents,'' says Ebbe Altberg, product unit manager at Microsoft. "It's an innovative product that unleashes a new set of possibilities for grabbing and holding a viewer's attention.''

Since Vizact looks and works like the other members of the Office family of applications, new users can get up and running quickly and easily. Vizact includes professionally designed wizards and templates, giving users impressive, professional results without requiring them to first master the product. Vizact is part of Microsoft's overall knowledge management strategy. So-called knowledge workers can emphasize key information and details and become more effective in their communication, the company says.

From what I can tell, Vizact is a Web-enabled PowerPoint-like program. Users with IE 5.0 will be able to view any documents created by Vizact, while users of other browsers will be able to view the documents without any of the special effects. And despite Microsoft's claims that Vizact integrates with the Office applications, the product is unable to read any of the native Office document formats, though it can import Office documents in HTML format.

Vizact 2000 is available now for approximately $150. For more information and a free 45-day trial, please visit the Vizact 2000 Web site