Microsofts Raikes said the arbitrary schemas in Office 11 "grow phenomenally" the softwares ability to connect with business applications, since its no longer necessary to write Excel specifically for a financial reporting schema or a content management schema. Word Task Pane (
see image) will also become programmable in XML, effectively becoming a mechanism that guides users through the solution that was built on Office, Raikes said.
"This is a very, very powerful development," Coan said. "It simply hasnt been possible before now, and it will have a dramatic impact on user productivity." But Bob Duerr, president of Integrated e-Com, in Naperville, Ill., which provides CRM (customer relationship management), e-CRM and e-commerce solutions to small businesses, said Offices new XML features seem geared toward midsize- and large-enterprise users. "Small businesses will not use or understand the capabilities," Duerr said. "Also, getting the average user to take advantage of it will take understanding; training; and many, many pre-built templates." Looking beyond Office 11, Raikes said there will be another significant step forward within the time frame of the next version of Windows, code-named Longhorn and due beyond 2004, that will relate to storage unification. "One of the improvements to the user experience will be the storage unification of certain applications, like Outlook, with the storage of the operating environment as well as some SQL-structured storage," Raikes said. This will result in one folder system, on the client and server, based on the same storage system, Raikes said. Related Stories: Interview: Raikes Details Office Changes
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Bill Coan, president of Coan and Company Inc., in Hortonville, Wis., which develops custom templates and add-ins for corporate customers, welcomed the programmable task pane.