What It All Means To You

In the past couple of years, XML Web services have achieved impressive critical mass on the middle tier in today’s enterprises. We’ve seen XML help wire together Wintel and other hardware, including legacy mainframes and Java/J2EE software. Microsoft is now attempting to help businesses take the next, surprisingly difficult step of getting employees to work in XML on the corporate desktop, ultimately bringing more corporate data into shareable systems.

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Overall, InfoPath is a promising technology. Integrating it into your enterprise will require some work on the IT end, but Microsoft is betting that the tool’s ease of use will help desktop users and IT meet in the middle, using documents based on xml, without all the traditional difficulty surrounding this powerful though somewhat daunting set of standards. With the arrival of Office 2003 and the new InfoPath technology, Microsoft strikes a blow against duplicated effort in the business world—a move that could save time and money and improve competitiveness.