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An Inside Look at Office 2001: Microsoft Word 2001

For some time now, the Macintosh Business Unit over at Microsoft has been hard at work on the successor to their ever-popular Microsoft Office 98 package for the Mac. Code-named "Office 9," the new office suite is officially expected to debut as Microsoft Office 2001, sometime later this year.

Thanks to always reliable sources, AppleInsider has learned a great deal about the new office suite and each of its sub applications, including Microsoft Word 2001, which is currently code-named "Word 9."

The first thing user's will notice when launching a Microsoft Office application, including Word 9, will be Office's new Project Gallery. The Project Gallery is a dialog which promptly displays for the user a list of categories containing blank office documents and pre-formatted templates for them to choose from in order to begin a certain task. User's may select anything from a blank word document to a completely predesigned business template, or create their own.

Additionally, the Project Gallery features a quite versatile interface —allowing the user to display templates and documents by large thumbnails or in a list view, as well as specify the types of documents they would like displayed in the gallery.

Along with the selection of new templates comes a very handy catalog and template wizard that allows the user to, in detail, define their ideal look and feel of each Office document. The wizards step the user through layout and title formatting, page content, and theme and color options, among other things.

Once inside the actual Microsoft Word application, users will notice a complete redesign of its user interface. Microsoft has done a pretty decent job of prepping all of Microsoft Office 9 towards Apple's new Aqua interface. Window and toolbar backgrounds are all almost identical to that of Internet Explorer 5.0, and the palette windows and toolbars drag semi transparently in real-time, like those in AppleWorks 6.0. Pop-up menus also appear in aqua colored bubbles.

Speaking of palettes, Word 9 sports dynamically changing formatting palettes that will adapt themselves to the content the user is currently editing, simplifying processes even further. And almost all of the application's toolbars and palettes can be docked anywhere on the user's screen, sources said.

One of Word 9's other features that is expected to be highly touted is a new Data Merge Manager and its implementation. Data Merge apparently replaces what was previously known as Mail Merge, and simplifies the entire Data Merge process into a single palette window, making it much easier for the end user to work with. "The new Data Merge Manager cuts operation times by up to 1/5 the time," one source told AppleInsider.

Word 9 also sports a new feature that Microsoft is calling 'Click-n-type' that allows users to click anywhere in a document and begin typing, without the need to indent manually or format the text through a long drawn out process. Ease of formatting in the new version is said to go further with nested table support that fully complies with HTML table standards, sources said.

Yet another extremely impressive feature that is rumored to be available in all of Office's sub applications, including Word, is the ability to import images directly into the application from components such as scanners and digital cameras that support the TWAIN interface, sources said. A number of image editing tools and filters are also said to be built directly into Office 9, for editing of images once they have been imported.

Other features of Word 9 are said to include full 24-bit color support, Encarta World English Dictionary integration and a simplified toolbar interface. Expected additional information on other Microsoft Office 2001 components in the extremely near future.