In the last two years, Microsoft Corp. has launched nearly a dozen products and poured billions into new technologies and markets but done little with its two big money-spinners, Windows and Office.
That will change this week when the world's largest software company begins selling the latest upgrade to Office, which promises tools to stop e-mail spam and allow companies to collaborate on documents, research information from within applications and manage data over the Web.
The upgrade to its flagship software package, which Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates will unveil during a marketing blitz in New York on Tuesday, comes just days ahead of Microsoft's September quarterly earnings report, scheduled for Thursday.
Wall Street analysts expect Microsoft's quarterly results to provide further confirmation that personal computer sales have revived in the last half of this year and will watch to see what it says about demand next year.
With a variety of applications included as part of the re-launched Office, Microsoft is describing the software as a "system" of productivity-enhancing programs. The revamped Office sports a sleek new look more in line with the Windows XP operating system. The biggest changes are in the Outlook e-mail program, which makes e-mail easier to read and stops spam, or unsolicited e-mail.
Analysts say that the main improvement in Office is not in the individual applications, but rather the capability it provides for users to work together.