Microsoft XML guru sees power for the people

Jean Paoli predicts that an explosion in XML docs will create big market for work flow, analytical tools.

For insight into how Microsoft plans to drive upgrades of its nearly ubiquitous Office desktop application suite, talk to Jean Paoli.

While he doesn't work in Microsoft's Information Worker group, which oversees Office, Paoli does influence the development of the product. He's a co-creator of the XML data formatting standard, and as the senior director of XML architecture at Microsoft, he's involved with a wide range of products, including the development of Office 12 and the upcoming Longhorn edition of Windows.

Jean Paoli
Jean Paoli,
senior director of
XML architecture,

Earlier this week, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said Longhorn, due in 2006, will have a new XML-based document format, code-named "Metro," that will be used to both print and share documents. Printers that support Metro will be able to render documents created in Longhorn more quickly and faithfully, while users will be able to share files without needing the application that created them.

Office is also getting a bigger dose of XML. Upcoming versions will make it easier for people with little training to automate multistep jobs, or work flows, such as processing an insurance claim. Many of these document-driven jobs today require software programmers to write code.

"In general, the work flow business is going to use a lot (of XML), and there will be more simplicity for more users because the actual document is richer," Paoli said, without discussing specific features of Office 12, scheduled for release in 2006.

"If you have millions of documents in XML, this becomes a huge business opportunity for software companies to do better," he said.

Paoli predicts that within five years, 75 percent

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