Microsoft launches XML-aware Office 2003

Microsoft Corp.'s Office 2003 is not just a desktop client anymore, but an ecosystem of interacting Web services, according to company officials who released the program suite this week.

Along with this year's versions of Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Word and other familiar apps (Click for GCN story), the company will link enterprise users with new tools such as the data collection tool InfoPath 2003 and the note-taking application OneNote 2003.

Lisa Ruff, a business productivity technical specialist with Microsoft's federal group, demonstrated the OneNote interface, which categorizes notes with tabs similar to those in a binder notebook. Shared messages are passed to other users through Outlook 2003.

Kurt DelBene, vice president of Microsoft's Office Server Group, said his company is not trying to establish a proprietary version of Extensible Markup Language, the lingua franca of Microsoft .Net and other Web services.

'We are not about creating a Microsoft-specific XML,' DelBene said. 'We're about letting you create your own schema.'

Word 2003 lets users create XML documents in the same way they have created documents in previous editions of the word-processing app, DelBene said.

DelBene spoke at the company's product launch event today in Washington.

Although the Office 2003 client suite went on sale to retail customers this week, enterprise and volume licensees were able to download several of the applications from Microsoft as early as last month.

Office 2003 Standard Edition, containing Outlook, Word, PowerPoint and Excel, has a retail new-user, single-copy price of $399 ($239 upgrade). The Professional Edition, which includes Access 2003, Publisher 2003, Outlook with Business Contact Manager and built-in XML and IRM authoring, lists for $499 per seat ($329 upgrade). InfoPath 2003 is available in Office 2003 Professional Enterprise Edition, which Microsoft sells to volume licensees only.

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