(or MSP) is a project management software
program developed and sold by Microsoft
which is designed to assist project managers
in developing plans
, assigning resources
, tracking progress, managing budgets
and analyzing workloads. The first version of Microsoft Project was released for DOS in 1984 by a company working for Microsoft. Microsoft bought all rights to the software in 1985 and released version 2. Version 3 for DOS was released in 1986. Version 4 for DOS was the final DOS version, released in 1986. The first Windows version was released in 1990, and was labelled version 1 for Windows. An interesting thing to note is that the first version for DOS introduced the concept of link lines (dependency lines) between tasks in the Gantt chart
Microsoft Project was the company's third Windows-based application, and within a couple of years of its introduction WinProj was the dominant PC-based project management software. Although branded as a member of the Microsoft Office family, it has never been included in any of the Office suites. It is available currently in two editions, Standard and Professional.
A Macintosh version was released in July 1991 and development continued through Project 4.0 for Mac in 1993. In 1994, Microsoft stopped development of most of its Mac applications and did not offer a new version of Office until 1998, after the creation of the new Microsoft Macintosh Business Unit the year prior. The MacBU never released an updated version of Project, and the prior version from 1993 does not run natively on Mac OS X.
Further versions were released in 1992 (v3), 1993 (v4), 1995, 1998, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007. There was no Version 2 on either platform; the original design spec was augmented with the addition of macro capabilities and the extra work required to support a macro language pushed the development schedule out to early 1992 (Version 3).
The application creates critical path schedules, although critical chain and event chain methodology third-party add-ons are available. Schedules can be resource leveled, and chains are visualized in a Gantt chart. Additionally, Project can recognize different classes of users. These different classes of users can have differing access levels to projects, views, and other data. Custom objects such as calendars, views, tables, filters and fields are stored in an enterprise global which is shared by all users.
Microsoft Project and Project Server are the cornerstones of the Microsoft Office Enterprise Project Management (EPM) product.
Microsoft has revealed that the next version of Microsoft Project will be featuring the Fluent user interface.
Project creates budgets based on assignment work and resource
rates. As resources are assigned to tasks and assignment work estimated, the program calculates the cost equals the work times the rate, which rolls up to the task level and then to any summary tasks and finally to the project level. Resource definitions (people, equipment and materials) can be shared between projects using a shared resource pool. Each resource can have its own calendar
, which defines what days and shifts a resource is available. Resource rates are used to calculate resource assignment costs which are rolled up and summarized at the resource level. Each resource can be assigned to multiple tasks in multiple plans and each task can be assigned multiple resources, and the application schedules task work based on the resource availability as defined in the resource calendars. All resources can be defined in an enterprise-wide resource pool.
MS Project presumes additional physical raw materials are always available without limit. Therefore it cannot determine how many finished products can be produced with a given amount of raw materials. This makes MS Project unsuitable for solving problems of available materials constrained production. Additional software is necessary to manage a complex facility that produces physical goods.
In later versions of Microsoft Office
, Microsoft Project's capabilities were extended with the introduction of Microsoft Office Project Server
and Microsoft Project Web Access
. Project Server stores Project data in a central SQL-based database, allowing users to display and update this data over the Internet. Web Access allows authorized users to access a Project Server database across the Internet
, and includes timesheets, graphical analysis of resource workloads, and administrative tools.
Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 is tightly integrated with Windows SharePoint Services, for each project is created in Project Workspace where the team members can share information related to Project.
As the software operates as part of the Microsoft Office suite, the later versions also provide for cross-functionality with products like PowerPoint and Visio.