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Microsoft Introduces MS-Nation: Nation-Building Office Add-In
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REDMOND, WA - Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates announced at a press conference Tuesday the release of the beta version of its new nation-building software, MS-Nation. "As an official beta-tester, The Defense Department will now be able to leverage these tools in its efforts overseas," said Gates.

The new product is an add-in to the popular MS Office suite, now the defacto standard in inter- and intra-office communication and data storage. Unlike these generic tools, though, this software targets specific needs. "For instance, the Reconstruction Module," Gates explained, "has several wizards to help determine costs, keep track of contracts pending and awarded, and all the reporting needed to stay on top of the mission. It can cull much of that data from the documents already present on your PC, reducing data entry." A small caricature of Paul Bremer leads the user through the process. One wizard -- Infrastructure -- draws a 3-D graph showing time taken, money spent, and the target nation's civilians' likely reactions. Bremer, having played with a pirated copy downloaded from the Internet, said, "It's pretty good. The Nation At A Glance page is a great overview, with its 'Joe Civilian' character. When that guy starts to frown, I know I need to change something."

The product is scheduled for release in the second quarter of 2004. Retail price is expected to be about $575,000 for the Home Edition, allowing reconstruction of one nation. The Enterprise edition can handle the rebuilding of up to ten nations simultaneously and will retail for about $995,000.
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