Microsofts InfoPath Is on the Warpath
It's clear that the system strategy is evolving faster than the apps themselves.First it was NetDocs, then it was XDocs and now its InfoPath. Microsoft envisions that someday InfoPath and the rest of the dominant Office suite will not only be ideal word processors and spreadsheets but will also be the leaders for connecting desktop clients to back-end business applications, no matter where those applications reside. This is the strategy that has led Microsoft to flaunt Office as a "system." Its clear, though, that the system strategy is evolving faster than the applications themselves. That said, Microsoft is getting close to adding real value to the ubiquitous Office, and InfoPath is the cornerstone of the strategy.
To be clear, Office isnt a system at all. Many of its components still operate independently. For example, OneNote is a nifty note-taking application that doesnt share the data store in the note-taking application in Outlook. InfoPath, when used as an offline client, adds another store. Word and Excel are moving to XML, but Outlook doesnt use XML. This doesnt mean Im not impressed with Office 2003 (see the review). It is clearly the best office suite out there, despite real competition (in the form of price) from Suns StarOffice and from OpenOffice.