Microsoft has announced the release of a brand-new version of its email and organisational tool, Outlook.

Outlook 2002 streamlines email and assists users with scheduling and general tasks for Exchange Server users, the software company said in a statement.

The latest version of Outlook features indexing and search functions for all content in Exchange 2000 Server, including messages, documents, contacts, tasks, calendar items and other data.

Microsoft Exchange is an email and workgroup application server that includes collaborative features such as instant messaging as well as indexing capabilities.

Outlook 2002 provides Exchange 2000 users access to the instant messaging service, as well as access to better email maintenance and more flexible calendar options.

With the release of the new software, users working offline over a slow internet connection will be able to do so more quickly, claims Microsoft. Those working with Exchange Server online will be able to prevent Outlook from automatically synchronising their data.

Outlook 2002 will be included in all Office XP suites and will be available to Exchange 2000 users in Service Pack 1 by the middle of next year.