Web Services on Desktop

Office XP Web Services Toolkit and Smart Tag Enterprise Resource Toolkit, released last week, will enable developers to put XML Web services data into Office XP.

Office XP Web Services Toolkit and Smart Tag Enterprise Resource Toolkit, released last week, will enable developers to put XML Web services data into Office XP, which Microsoft Corp. officials said will make it easier for users to access important information in applications they use daily.

"Right now, our vision for the .Net platform as a whole is of smart clients talking to smart servers with XML and Web services in between," said Anders Brown, lead product manager for Office, in Redmond, Wash. "Office is going to be one of those smart clients along with many others provided from Microsoft. So, in the short term, Office XP now becomes a smart client to XML Web services."

Smart Tag Enterprise Resource Toolkit provides a road map for how to plan, design, implement and deploy robust, scalable smart tags within the enterprise, while Office XP Web Services Toolkit enables developers to apply XML Web services in Office XP, Brown said.

Microsoft has already signed up General Motors Corp. for its newly launched pilot program to recruit partners and customers into building Office-based Web services. GM is rolling out Windows 2000, Office XP and some of these tools to about 120,000 workstations.

"We are just getting our feet wet, looking at understanding how the Web services work and how easy it is to develop solutions with those tools," said Tony Scott, GMs chief technology officer for IS and services, in Detroit. "At this stage, we are using data that is easy to get at, like sales data and internal phone book data, but more broadly, once we get an idea how hard or easy it is to develop these, we could expand it to a number of different areas like quality data, broader sales data, manufacturing, parts and costs."

GM expects to know by the end of March how much further it wants to take the integration of Web services into Office XP, but "based on what weve seen so far, it looks like its going to be an interesting and productive exercise for us," Scott said.

Microsofts Brown said the tool kits also allow developers to discover XML Web services using the standards-based Universal Description, Discovery and Integration service and integrate them directly into Office XP solutions with a single click.

"We believe that XML Web services will solve the data integration problem and essentially expose data and make it very easily accessible both within and outside an enterprise," Brown said.