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Visio has upgraded its software and repackaged it as 'Visio 2000', just in time for the new century. The new version is faster and has a number of new features, but the company is stressing the improved usability as the real improvement from the last edition. The changes were inspired by research at the company's usability labs. The idea is that people should be be able to use the program within an hour of installing the software. The new version is also Internet-enabled. Users can embed multiple hyperlinks to external information (remember that HTML still only supports single hyper links though). It also supports VML format, a more efficient way of storing images than traditional bitmaps which also allows 'pan and zoom' viewing of documents online. Changes include a new opening screen, which gives easier access to recently saved documents and templates. The "SmartShapes" tell users what they do, and can be customised. Movement aroung large documents has been improved with pan and zoom windows, and Excel style page tabs have been added to make it easy to move around the document. David Sanders, marketing manager at Visio, commented: "We have tried to make the whole environment more intuitive to anyone familiar with Microsoft Office products. It uses Windows Installer Technology -- we are the first people outside Microsoft to use it -- to make use of the program as simple as possible." Further information about the upgrade can be found here

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