New Office product to simplify forms

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer on Wednesday is expected to unveil a new product intended to turn Office into a data-collection tool and boost sales of the desktop software.

Ballmer is expected to announce the product, code-named XDocs, at Gartner's Symposium and ITExpo in Orlando, Fla. XDocs is intended to make it easier for companies to generate and tabulate data using electronic forms by linking desktop documents to back-end data sources. The product is based on Extensible Markup Language (XML), already a popular standard for data integration. Microsoft expects to ship XDocs in mid 2003, about the same time as the next version of its productivity suite, code-named Office 11.

With XDocs Microsoft hopes to expand on the success of collaborative tools such as SharePoint Team Services and SharePoint Portal Server and better position Office as a front-end to client relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications, according to the company

Microsoft hopes XDocs will make Office more attractive to corporate buyers, in turn increasing sales of it and the Windows XP operating system. Microsoft controls more than 90 percent of the desktop application market, but sales have begun to slow. During the dot-com boom, many companies switched to back-end data systems that could be accessed from anywhere using a Web browser. Microsoft hopes to turn XDocs into the data-retrieval mechanism most Office customers would want to use, which would enhance the value of the productivity suite. Office contributes more than one-third of Microsoft's overall revenue.

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News source: C|net


Screenshot: XDocs screenshot

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