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Microsoft bids for eBay developers

The software giant offers sample code for tying XML-based Office applications to the auctioneer's listing servers.

Microsoft announced a partnership with eBay on Monday that will allow Office applications to tie in to the online auction service.

The software giant plans to offer free sample code through the eBay Developers Program and later Microsoft's MSDN developer site for tying selected Office applications to the auctioneer's listing servers. The eBay Developers Program is a venue for developers to create programs that help large-scale sellers on the site manage inventory, automate listings and other tasks.

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Gytis Barzdukas, director of Office System product management for Microsoft, said that Excel, the spreadsheet program included in Microsoft's Office package, will be one of the main targets for eBay developers. Items entered in an Excel document saved in the XML (Extensible Markup Language) format could automatically be routed to the eBay listing server, and auction results could likewise be automatically entered in a spreadsheet for analysis and record-keeping.

Other piece of sample code will focus on integrating Web content developed with FrontPage, Microsoft's main Web authoring application with eBay services.

Extensive new XML functionality has been one of Microsoft's main selling points for Office 2003, the updated version of the software introduced last year. While much of the discussion surrounding XML has focused on using the format to integrate Office documents with enterprise computing systems, eBay is an example of how XML-based documents can benefit small businesses, Barzdukas said.

"We really view this as yet another example of how we're bringing Office into the connected community that is the Web," he said. "It is broadening the scope of how people can take advantage of XML. You don't have to be a large company with a lot of custom development capability to benefit."

Microsoft previously struck a deal with retail giant to include Amazon data in research services available through Office 2003 applications.