Concentric To Provide Microsoft Office Via Internet

Concentric Network Corp. announced today that it will begin offering Office 2000 software via the Internet in early 2000.

Industry observers point out that this move, part of a pilot program launched by Microsoft Corp., marks the beginning of a new era for Microsoft. The software giant now appears to be quickly adapting to the concept of Internet-driven applications.

Through the program, Concentric’s customers will have access to Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and other Office applications via the Internet — instead of having the Microsoft software installed on their PCs.

Less Investment, Less Maintenance

Concentric said that its customers will be able to access the latest version of Office without having to make an up-front investment and without having to install or maintain the software.

In addition, outsourcing Office allows users to access the application from any computer, and save their documents to a secure server in the Concentric Network. Ultimately, these network-stored documents will also make collaboration easier when a document has to be worked on simultaneously by numerous users.

“We are pleased to participate in Microsoft’s pilot program for Office Online,” said Connie DeWitt, vice president of small-to-medium business marketing for Concentric Network. “The fact that Microsoft is embracing hosted applications marks a true turning point in the ASP market. In particular, this is a key initiative for small and medium-sized businesses who are interested, first and foremost, in growing and developing their businesses — not in building in-house IT departments.”

“We’re excited to be working with Concentric to offer the industry-leading Office applications over the Internet,” said Steven Sinofsky, vice president of Microsoft Office. “Microsoft Office Online will be a good addition to the application services and e-business solutions Concentric currently offers and we look forward to leveraging Concentric’s application hosting experience to provide another choice for Office users.”

Right Move At Right Time

Some analysts feel that this announcement comes at the right time for Microsoft, especially in light of recent reports that major PC makers have been responding to the company’s antitrust troubles by working behind the scenes to develop a new line of Windows-less models.

In fact, some industry observers believe that Gateway, Inc. and AOL are secretly collaborating on a line of computers that will not utilize any Microsoft software at all.

Internet-Based Applications

Observers predict that a strong shift from PC-based applications to Internet-driven applications by Microsoft could quickly establish its Internet-based products as the standard — thus making it difficult for its rivals to establish a foothold.

Microsoft officials say it has also enlisted Verio, Inc. and Winstar Communications, Inc. to offer its software applications via the Internet.

About Concentric Network Corporation

San Jose, California-based Concentric (Nasdaq: CNCX) provides Internet business solutions for small-to medium-sized companies, and customized Virtual Private Network and data center services for larger organizations. Concentric’s portfolio of services for small-to medium-sized companies includes high-speed DSL access, Web hosting and e-commerce.

Concentric’s partners include Nortel, SBC Communications, and Teligent. Concentric has some large customers, including AT&T, Bloomberg, and Microsoft’s WebTV.

Shareholders include Williams Communications (13%), SBC (9%), and Telecom Italia (8%), and Microsoft has agreed to invest $50 million in Concentric.

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