lgo_msp2003_medMicrosoft has taken advantage of the Users Conference to launch its campaign for Project 2010. This is known internally as part of Office version 14. For people who keep track of such things, the current version of Project (and Office is version 12). If the next version of Project will be 14 wondering what happened to version 13 seems fair. Microsoft elected to skip the number 13 to avoid the bad luck that so many attribute to this hapless number. Anyway, now you have some trivia you can impress your friends and neighbours with.

But I digress.

If you’re worried you won’t have time to get Project 2010 deployed in your organization by this Christmas you can put your fears to bed. The product won’t be released until the “First half of 2010” according to the keynote address here. Project’s launch is part of Office 2010 so any news you see for the release date of Office 2010 will apply also to Project.

Partners such as my firm have been given early access to the product as part of the beta test program. Microsoft refers to this as the Technology Adoptipn Program. It gives consultants and Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) a chance to test the product early and give some QA feedback to Microsoft before the final release. Also (and importantly for HMS) ISVs can work on the link of their products now to the new version so products like our TimeControl timesheet will work with Project 2010 as soon as it’s released.

Ok, on to the important news. What’s in it? A few big changes.

Portfolio Server will not be sold separately. Much of the Portfolio Server functionality has been rewritten right into Project Server and not only is the look and feel just like Project Server but the data is now altogether. You’ll note I said “much” not all. Some Portfolio Server users will not be quick to upgrade.

ActiveX’s are gone. The old installation of ActiveX components has been replaced with Dynamic HTML code. (CIOs are now clapping as they won’t have to “push” ActiveX’s to all their users anymore.)

There are some new dependencies:

Project Server will now require MOSS 2010 64bit. In fact Project Server is 64 bit. If you’ve worked with the free Windows. Sharepoint Services up until now, you’ll need to buy full MOSS licences to move to Project Server 2010. If your current Project Server is part of a huge SharePoint 2007 (or 2003) deployment you’ll need to upgrade that to 2010 to move to this version of Project Server.

The message from the conference floor is that Project is best thought of as an extension to SharePoint.

Well that’s all about Project Server which of course is of great interest to me but the more interesting initiative is with Project Desktop which I’ll talk about in a separate post