Microsoft limits XML in Office 2003

A distinction that Microsoft is making between professional and standard versions of Office 2003 means that many customers may not get all the features they've been expecting, including broad support for Web services.

For more than a year, Microsoft has touted Office 2003's support for Extensible Markup Language (XML), a highly anticipated new feature of the productivity suite. But Microsoft now plans to fully deliver the feature only in the two high-end versions of the product, one of which will be available only to businesses subscribing to Microsoft's volume-licensing program.

Two other features also are similarly restricted: the document protection technology Windows Rights Management Services (RMS), and Excel List, a feature for improving analysis of data lists. Microsoft plans to deliver the three features only in the Enterprise and Professional versions of Office 2003, the company confirmed late Thursday.

At no time during two phases of testing, one in October and another in March, did Microsoft make it widely known that XML support would not be available in all versions of Office 2003. The most recent beta test version, available to an estimated half million testers, delivers the full XML feature set promised by Microsoft.

Judging the limitations of Office's XML capabilities is difficult, since the beta sent to testers by Microsoft contains the Enterprise version. But Microsoft claims that the differences in XML support aren't all that great and are justified because of the target markets.

News source: Cnet|news.com

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