Office, one of the brightest jewels in Microsoft's crown, is now linked to the company's .Net Web services strategy, underlying just how important Web services are to the software giant's future.
The Office XP Web Services Toolkit and the Smart Tag Enterprise Resource Toolkit are now available free from Microsoft's Web site, and they enable developers to link Office with Web services.
These new tool kits will enable developers to integrate XML (Extensible Markup Language) Web services into Office XP. The value for customers, for example, is that developers can use the kits to build a link to a Web service that uses Excel to display customer information stored on a company's servers. The kits also work with UDDI (Universal Description, Discovery and Integration), a new (although not widely adopted or accepted) Web services standard that lets Office users find and link to other available Web services.
While there are not many Web services available, that situation will change as more companies see the value of using .Net to access Web services, and Microsoft's strategy will start to come into its own.
In-house developers often customize Office to better suit a company's needs. Microsoft's new tool kits will allow them to continue doing that, but by using Web services. By way of the kits, moreover, Microsoft can leverage Office customers as a potential launching pad for .Net.
See news story:
Microsoft releases new Office tools
Microsoft has not always been known for its unified voice. With announcements such as these--part of its wider, more coordinated business strategy--the company is ensuring that developers and customers of Office and the company's other productivity tool get the same message.
Linking Office to Web services enables people to leverage the value of the connection, which in turn helps to make .Net more popular and further enriches Microsoft.
(For a related commentary on Microsoft's efforts to establish Web service standards, see gartner.com.)
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