Microsoft Project (s msft) is frustrating. Although it’s still a very good planning and project management tool, it’s tricky for non-PM professionals to get the hang of, and it hasn’t seen any significant updates in a very long time — while its (mainly online) competitors have been improving apace. Hopefully, that frustration should be eased next year, when Project 2010 is launched. Project 2010, officially announced today at the Microsoft Project Conference in Phoenix, looks like it will include significant improvements to the user experience, coupled with better integration with other Microsoft products.
I had a chance to speak to Senior Director of Product Marketing for Project, Seth Patton, prior to the announcement to get the lowdown on the new version. Patton says that it will be significantly easier for non-PM professionals to use, with an interface that includes the Office ribbon and a wizard-like Task Inspector that will make it easier to discover Project features without overwhelming the user, while at the same time retaining (and building on) the functionality that seasoned Project pros need. Simple collaboration will be available via SharePoint (so companies won’t necessarily need to shell out for Project Server), and Project now integrates tightly with Visual Studio and Dynamics. The Project product range will also be streamlined, with a clear pathway to more advanced project and portfolio management capabilities as business needs change.
If you’re growing tired of the lack of updates to Project and are considering switching to one of its online competitors, you might want to hang tight until you can give this new version a run for its money. Somewhat annoyingly, Microsoft hasn’t made a beta available with the announcement, so you can’t try it out just yet; according to Patton, the public beta (which you can sign up for here) is due to land “before the end of the calendar year.” The final release should happen early next year, to coincide with the main Office 2010 launch.
Are you looking forward to Project 2010? Or have the lack of updates to the product forced you to jump ship?