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MS unveils developer kits for Digital Dashboards

Implementation of Gates vision surprisingly on track

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Microsoft is pushing development of products based on its Digital Dashboard Initiative with the launch of three tool kits, available for download free for licensed users. Digital Dashboard was announced as part of Bill Gates' latest knowledge workers without limits 'vision' back in May, but as subsequent events have shown, it has rather more substance than usual. None of the trickier stuff (e.g. speech) that Bill associated with the vision is yet available, nor do we expect much of it to be in the foreseeable future, but the significant point here is that Microsoft is going for implementations that are shippable now, and when the company does that, it's worth paying attention. There are three kits available, Digital Dashboard Starter Kit, Outlook 2000 Team Folder Wizard, and Team Productivity Update for BackOffice Server 4.5. Microsoft's intention here is, as it says, to jump-start Digital Dashboard development, and for outfits already using Microsoft BackOffice products the move should certainly have that effect. The kits for the 'business end' of the deal (i.e. Outlook) have enough in the way of samples and wizards to allow developers to put together convincing desktop information centres for their customers fairly quickly. Microsoft's announcement also makes the extent to which Outlook is viewed as a strategic product pretty clear. The company itself describes Office 2000 and BackOffice Server as core products, but Outlook/Dashboard's status as the client end of the whole collaboration strategy, which itself is posed to XML its way across the Web, is obvious. The next stage is to get those nice Dashboards onto other client platforms, and then start folding in remote app capabilities. ®

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