Microsoft Renames XDocs App

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2003-02-10 Print this article Print

Microsoft renamed the information-gathering tool InfoPath, but declined to say if it will ship as part of Office 11.

Microsoft Corp. on Monday renamed its XDocs application to InfoPath, but declined to say whether this information-gathering tool would ship as part of Office 11, the code name for the next version of Office, or if it would be sold as a stand-alone product. InfoPath is essentially a smart client that Microsoft says will bring robust data-capturing capabilities to its Office productivity suite. "Think of it as a hybrid information gathering tool for organizations that blends the benefits and richness of a traditional word processing program with the data capturing ability and rigor of a forms package into the XDocs templates," Scott Bishop, an Office product manager, told eWEEK late last year.
A Microsoft spokeswoman told eWEEK on Monday that "whether InfoPath will be included in Office or just sold separately is still being determined at this point, as is pricing."
But customers and developers told eWEEK they expect Microsoft to sell InfoPath separately from Office 11, but at a discount for Office customers who upgrade to Office 11 or for new customers who purchase Office 11 and XDocs together. Some skeptical users also speculate that InfoPath could be a further-reaching development effort than the company has indicated. Such users told eWEEK that Microsoft could leverage InfoPath across a range of product groups, from Office to enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, accounting, database and messaging products. A software developer in Groton, Mass., who asked not to be named, speculated that InfoPath would also be used as a vehicle to sell more Microsoft Web services. According to the developer, Microsoft is trying to move the software market toward a subscription basis, "and XDocs is one more arrow in the quiver, so to speak." But others, such as Bill Coan, president of Coan and Company Inc., which develops custom templates and add-ins for corporate customers, disagreed, saying InfoPath will be good for the market. "It will do for data-driven content what desktop and Web publishing tools have done for unstructured content: allow users to capture and report structured data without relying on a host of experts," Coan said. Microsoft on Monday used the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Societys 2003 Conference to show how InfoPath supports the Clinical Document Architecture (CDA), a national XML standard for the health-care industry. Amicore Inc., which provides software and services to physicians, also announced Monday that it plans to include InfoPath in its upcoming Amicore Integrated Management solution, which will be available in the third quarter of this year. Amicores solution, aimed at helping physicians streamline the data-gathering workflow process, will draw heavily on InfoPath support for XML-based Web services as well as its data-validation capabilities, said Reese Gomez, a vice president at Amicore. Microsoft is also targeting InfoPath at a variety of vertical industries with distinct industry-specific data needs. "InfoPath support for industry-standard XML schemas will be a productivity boon for these industries," said Joe Eschbach, corporate vice president of the Information Worker Product Management Group at Microsoft. In addition, InfoPaths tight integration with Office 11 applications and support for SharePoint Team Services, will let all users collect and share data, be it with others in their workgroup, or with co-workers and partners anywhere in the world, he said.
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    Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

    He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

    He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

    He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

    He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

    He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

    His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

    For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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