Microsoft Shows Off New Office XML Tool

Microsoft continued to drip out details of its latest
version of Office software, unveiling a new XML-based application to allow
businesses to create forms and then integrate the information into their
business processes.

Dubbed XDocs, the program is slated for availability in the middle of 2003,
when Microsoft also plans to roll out its much-hyped Office 11 suite. The
company did not say if XDocs would be bundled with all versions of Office.

“The vision for XDocs is to deliver on the needs of our customers by
connecting XML Web services to information workers at their desktops,”
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “XDocs provides new ways to
gather and reuse company data, enabling better information flow, more
informed decisions and greater integration of people with business processes
throughout an organization.”

Microsoft has beat the collaboration drum for much of the year, heralding
XML-based Web services as the bridge to connect the many Microsoft
applications already running on most workers’ computers, from Office to
Outlook. At the TechXNY/PC Expo in June, Microsoft showed off
Outlook’s new messaging and collaboration client.

Microsoft said XDocs would enable businesses to more efficiently manage the
mountains of information they collect by linking the data collected in an
XDocs form to other Microsoft applications. The company said XDocs will
appear to the user much like Word, only the user can construct the form to
suit the user’s business needs.

As an example, a sales report created in XDocs would be able to capture
critical data, such as how much a particular company bought, which would be
used in other sales reports. Since it is in XML, the data can be easily
transferred to various other programs and internal databases without
translation or additional programming, the company said.

Along with unveiling XDocs, Ballmer heralded Microsoft studies that showed
customers could save money by upgrading to Window XP and Office XP.

He pointed to the company’s findings that showed Windows XP Professional
customers generating an average return on investment (ROI) or 200 percent
over a three-year period.

“As I talk with IT managers, I’m hearing that they must justify their
technology investments more than ever before,” Ballmer said. “Companies
still on the Windows 95 or Windows 98 platforms are missing out on the
incredible benefits that come with the combination of Windows XP and Office
XP.”

Microsoft has done more than just evangelize customers to the benefits of
its latest versions of software, introducing a controversial software-licensing scheme this summer that locked companies into
upgraded versions of Microsoft software.

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