Microsoft recently offered the world a hands-on dose of its knowledge management strategy. Last Monday, Microsoft announced the release of three toolkits (the Digital Dashboard Starter Kit, the Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard, and the Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5) that will let developers custom build Office 2000-based enterprise portals. Microsoft has dubbed this project the Digital Dashboard. Microsoft has previously presented its knowledge management vision, but the Digital Dashboard is one of the first pieces that Microsoft has released for general distribution. Last May, Microsoft chairman and CEO Bill Gates unveiled the Digital Dashboard concept—a basic knowledge management tool—to a select audience. The Digital Dashboard consists of an enterprise portal, a single page from which you can accomplish most major business functions. For example, the portal might show important email messages, a daily schedule, an instant messaging buddies list, and scrolling stock quotes, as well as letting you access shared folders and major applications, all from one page. The Digital Dashboard will be an open solution that can consolidate information from various data sources and applications, including legacy systems, Web servers, SQL Server 7.0, and Exchange 5.5, to create a single, custom environment for a user. Microsoft likens the Digital Dashboard concept to that of a car or plane instrument dashboard. The Digital Dashboard Starter Kit will let developers custom build dashboards for the enterprise. Dashboards are essentially HTML or JavaScript Web pages with windows into Outlook functions, such as calendars and email, and advanced collaborative functions. The Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard and the Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5 increase the collaborative capabilities of Outlook and BackOffice users. Microsoft expects developers will add components to the Digital Dashboard, including indicators about the condition of a knowledge worker’s specific area of responsibility and expertise. So, for example, a sales force could see sales results and inventory on its Outlook page. A key advantage of the Digital Dashboard is that you can synchronize it in a connected and an offline state, which is a clear advantage over browser-based portal solutions. Industry response has been on the positive side of mixed. Although some industry analysts have praised the Digital Dashboard as a nice first attempt, they've criticized Microsoft for not including features such as indexing, a search capability, and personalization. The Digital Dashboard Starter Kit is available for download at The Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard is available for download at BackOffice Server 4.5 customers can order the Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5 from the Microsoft BackOffice Server Web site at Members of the Microsoft Certified Solution Provider program will receive a free evaluation copy of the Digital Dashboard Starter Kit in their September mailing that will let them start developing with the product and experiment with customer implementations. You can find out more about the Digital Dashboard at To see a copy of Microsoft's announcement surrounding the release of its new toolkits, go to