Microsoft to Adopt XML Formats in Office 12

Microsoft said it will use XML
technology as the default file formats for the next version of its
productivity software, Office 12.

Called Microsoft Office Open XML Formats, they will become the defaults for
Redmond’s revamped Word, Excel and PowerPoint applications, slated to appear
in the second half of 2006.

The software giant said in a statement the file formats will ensure greater
data recovery, which includes the ability to use the
undamaged parts of a file when only one component is corrupted. Fixes can
also easily be made to the damaged file portion.

The Open XML formats will also boost security. Now, files with hazardous
code can be more quickly pinpointed and stopped from executing. XML formats
also pare file sizes to trim storage costs.

Greater interoperability in Open
XML Formats will also allow Office applications to access data stored in
systems outside those applications.

The formats will improve the sharing of information for collaborative
projects and augment corporate workflows. The new file formats will help
applications access documents and spreadsheets without manual entry,
boosting worker productivity.

Moreover, the formats come with a royalty-free license, meaning any developer can integrate them with their tools without paying Microsoft.

The move hardly comes as a surprise. Microsoft has championed XML in Office
since 2000 within the HTML file formats supported by Word, Excel and
PowerPoint. Over the years, it has extended its support for XML in Office
XP, Office 2003 and Office InfoPath 2003.

XML is becoming the preferred language for tagging structured data that can
be read by computers and acted upon on the fly. This is crucial for back-end
database software, which reads and executes structured information.
Microsoft, Oracle and IBM are all making XML an integral part of their
database software to varying degrees.

XML is also a dominate force on the front end. Many Web services
software vendors are using XML because of its facility
to automate the exchange of information and applications across a variety of
networks and disparate infrastructures.

According to researcher Gartner, 86 percent of businesses that are using or
planning to use a systems integrator through the beginning of 2004 for a Web
services solution will use XML. Gartner also said 40 percent of knowledge
workers will use XML-aware content-creation tools by 2007.

Microsoft said in a statement it plans to discuss details about the new XML
file formats at the Microsoft Tech*Ed 2005 show next week in Orlando, Fla.

Microsoft will eventually provide draft versions of the schemas. Those
interested in the new file formats and the next version of Office can get
additional information at here beginning Monday,
June 6, to coincide with the start of Tech*Ed.

The file formats are the next leg of Microsoft’s journey to greater
interoperability to Office, which Microsoft Chief Software Architect Bill
Gates discussed at the Microsoft CEO Summit two weeks ago.

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