Eco-Technology: Demand for Scheduling Remains High


Eco-Technology:  Demand for Scheduling Remains High; It’s Still All About the Results – A Look at Microsoft Project

Well, the 2009 calendar year has started (whether or not we want it to).  2008 presenting many new and exciting events, of which none of them I intend to recap in this post.  Looking ahead, 2009 is shaping up to be equally exciting.  I am guessing that Microsoft may shed a lot more light on the next version of Microsoft Project (ssshhhh, don’t tell anyone).  

So, as I reflect on the year (which I mentioned I won’t detail the events), I couldn’t help myself in looking back at previous versions of Microsoft Project.  Basically, I was curious to remind myself of the history, and ‘how did we get here’.  That’s what we do as project managers, right? We start by capturing historical data, and getting our proverbial arms around the situation at a high level.  

Demand for scheduling remains high; it’s still all about the results.

As I was kicking off my personal project of understanding some of the history of the largest project management technical tool in history, I have to also be a pragmatic practitioner and ‘look ahead’. Forecasting; one of the most sought after concepts in business.  History, status and forecasting are the main reasons project management exists, and could be the only purpose for project management practitioners. Let’s face it, only the nerdiest of us get exciting about changing Gantt bar color, solving the mysterious automatic resource leveling issues, and let’s not forget the always fun game of ‘chase that ghost task’.

I digress!  My idea (and I welcome your input as this can be a fun, group activity) is to draft a short series of posts about some of the fun history of Microsoft project, and see if we can’t look ahead at what we can expect. The reason behind my madness is that Microsoft Project (from at least the Microsoft Project 98 version) has maintained a majority of the scheduling capability we use today.  Now, there is no debate in my mind that scheduling IS the holy grail in business. If a company cannot uncover the activity that is driving the business AND the resource(s) doing the activity, then that company will never realize its true potential. Scheduling is decades old, and the Microsoft Project scheduling engine functionality remains mostly intact version to version (less tweaks and adjustments based on solution design). You can pull a copy of Microsoft Project 98 out of the box, and execute a majority of actions just like pulling a copy of the current Project 2007 Desktop.  What makes these versions vastly different you wonder?  It’s the output – the user interface, reporting and integration with other systems and technologies.  Let’s relate project scheduling to the economy:  the fundamentals are sound which remain the core value of the activity.  What changes are the environmental impacts and adaptation.  So, the rich reporting features, way-cool web interface and extensible integration platforms of Microsoft Project are based on the environmental pull.  However, the requirement of solid scheduling and focus of results remains consistent.

Demand for scheduling remains high; it’s still all about the results.

To wrap up this post, below is a list of the technical specifications and features of Microsoft Project 98 and all earlier versions.  You will notice that Project 98 was an inflection point for the technology.  Huge changes to the software as well as a repositioning on behalf of the Microsoft product team to align this product to potential web integration was included.  Finally, I am preparing to present to a local PMI Chapter, and I intend to reference project scheduling material from the 1960’s.  This is the cool part for your nerdy schedulers — the material I will reference is still relevant today —- isn’t that cool!  Enjoy a quick look back, and prepare for the future – but keep on scheduling!

Demand for scheduling remains high; it’s still all about the results.


The following is a version history of Microsoft Project for Windows, beginning with the most recent version of Microsoft Project.

Version                Date



Microsoft Project 98   10/30/97



 System Requirements:


 – 12 MB memory under Windows 95

 – 16 MB memory under Windows NT

 – Microsoft Windows 95, Microsoft Windows NT version 3.51 or later

 – 486 or higher processor

 – VGA or higher resolution video adapter

 – 20-40  MB of available hard-disk space



                      -Project scheduling and tracking

                         Custom time period tracking

                         Task Usage and Resource Usage views

                         Task splitting

                         Effort-driven scheduling

                         Enhanced earned value analysis

                         Multiple critical paths

                         Status date

                         Multiple baselines

                         New fields

                         Changed fields

                         Progress lines

                         Honoring constraint dates

                         Task types


                      -Resource and cost management

                         Improved resource leveling

                         Resource work contours

                         Variable pay rates

                         Resource start and finish dates

                         User-entered actual costs


                      -Multiple project management

                         Outline consolidated projects

                         Increased consolidation limits

                         Drilling down within multiple projects

                         Cross-project linking

                         Resource pooling


                      -Analysis tools and methods

                         Microsoft Excel PivotTables

                         Microsoft Excel charts


                         PERT analysis

                         PERT analysis views

                         Rollup views


                      -Presentation features

                         Web publishing

                         Sharing information across Office programs

                         Pictures in headers, footers, legends, and notes

                         Improved printing


                      -Workgroup and intranet support

                         Workgroup features

                         Out-of-the-box web solution

                         Microsoft Outlook reminders


                      -Desktop features

                         Microsoft Office compatibility

                         Easy data entry

                         View Bar


                         Microsoft Office web extensions

                         Work with other task management tools

                         Microsoft Outlook Journal support



                      -Database compatibility features

                         New database format

                         SQL/Oracle support

                         Import/export maps

                         Custom fields


                      -Development tools

                         Customizable user interface elements

                         Enhanced development support


                         Visual Basic Editor


                      -User assistance

                         Office Assistant and rich help

                         Quick Preview

                         Getting Started tutorial

                         Microsoft Project 101: Fundamentals

                         Visual Map

                         Online Microsoft Project 98 User’s Guide

                         Technical resources


Version  Date



4.1     7/20/95


 System Requirements: – 6 MB memory under Windows 95

                       12 MB memory under Windows NT


                      – Microsoft Windows 95

                        Microsoft Windows NT version 3.51 or later


                      – 386DX or higher processor


                      – VGA or higher resolution video adapter


 Changes:             – Runs only on 32-bit Operating Systems mentioned



                      – Answer Wizard


                      – AutoCorrect


                      – Long File Name support


                      – Save to Database supports ODBC


                      – Ability to customize Workgroup messages to

                        include the fields you want


                      – Posting ability to Microsoft Exchange Folders


                      – New File Open dialog used by Office 95


                      – Improved speed


                      – Opening non native MPP files is faster


Version  Date



 4.0     4/15/94


 System Requirements  – 4 MB memory Required

                        8 MB memory Recommended


                      – Windows version 3.1 or later

                        Windows for Workgroups version 3.1 or later

                        Windows NT version 3.1 or later


                      – MS-DOS version 3.3 or later


                      – VGA or higher resolution


                      – 1.2 MB 5.25-inch or 1.44 MB 3.5-inch

                        high-density drive


 Changes:             – Relationship lines on Gantt Chart


                      – Calendar View


                      – Visual Basic for Applications macro language


                      – Workgroup features utilizing electronic mail


                      – Crosstab reports


                      – Multiple project consolidation with up to 80 files


                      – Common Microsoft Office menu structure


                      – Drawing objects and OLE object inserted directly

                        on Gantt Chart view


                      – Easily create Recurring tasks


                      – Individual cell and bar formatting


                      – Ability to save information to an Access 2.0



                      – Multiple Toolbars


                      – Customizable Menu bar


Version  Date



 3.0a    1/1/93


 System Requirements: – 2 MB memory


                      – Hard disk


                      – MS-DOS version 3.0 or higher


                      – Microsoft Windows 3.0 or later


                      – 1.2 MB 5.25-inch or 1.44 MB 3.5-inch

                        high-density drive


 Changes: Maintenance Release


                      – Gantt chart Rollup causing unrecoverable

                        application error (UAE) or general protection

                        (GP) Fault


                      – Resource Sharing causing UAE or GP Fault when

                        saving files


                      – Week numbering starts with wrong week


                      – Paste Linking to % Complete from outside

                        Microsoft Project failed


                      – International settings incorrect after Setup


Version  Date



 3.0     2/28/92


 System Requirements: – 1. 2 MB of memory


                      – Hard disk


                      – MS-DOS version 3.0 or later


                      – Microsoft Windows 3.0 or later – 1.2 MB

                        5.25-inch or 1.44 MB 3.5-inch high-density drive


 Changes: New version

                      – Macro Language (Command equivalents)


                      – Customizable toolbar to run Macros


                      – Print preview


                      – Improved leveling algorithm


                      – Dynamic data exchange (DDE) capability


                      – Supports OLE 1.0


Version  Date



 1.0     12/4/90    – 1 MB memory


                    – Hard disk


                    – MS-DOS version 3.0 or higher


                    – Microsoft Windows 2.0 or later


                    – 1.2 MB 5.25-inch or 720 K 3.5-inch drive


 Changes:           – Requires Windows 2.0 or later to install and run

                      (Run-Time Windows removed)


Version  Date



 1.0    4/30/90     – 1 MB memory


                    – Hard disk


                    – MS-DOS version 3.0 or higher


                    – Microsoft Windows 2.0 or later


                    – 1.2 MB 5.25-inch or 720K 3.5-inch drive


 Changes: (None, first release of Microsoft Project.)


                    – Comes with a Run-Time version of Microsoft

                      Windows 2.1 (Windows 286)

Posted By: Tim Cermak

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