Microsoft recruits for new Office

Microsoft on Monday announced several new programs aimed at helping outside software makers build applications that work with the next version of the company's Office productivity software.

Office, which bundles common workplace applications such as spreadsheet and word processing programs, is one of Microsoft's most profitable divisions. But the package has run into resistance in recent years, with the majority of businesses declining to upgrade to the current Office XP because of cost concerns and a lack of compelling new features.

Microsoft hopes to reverse that with features in the next version, Office 2003, that dramatically boost support for Extensible Markup Language (XML). By making XML the standard output format for the newly christened Office System, administrators will be able to tie documents into corporate databases and integrate them with back-end systems.

The utility of such features depends to a large extent, however, on support from other software makers; Microsoft hopes to use its TechEd conference--starting today in Dallas--to show the backing is there.

New partner resources announced at the conference include the Office System Solution Directory, a free database maintained by Microsoft, of software makers building applications that tie into office. Notable products will be showcased in the Office Marketplace, a Web site where software partners will be able to showcase their Office-related wares.

News source: Cnet|News.com

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