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Thursday, June 02, 2005
Microsoft to adopt XML for next Office version

Microsoft said on Wednesday that it will make XML, a data format increasingly used by businesses, standard in the next version of its Office program due out next year.

XML, or extensible markup language, is used to transfer data back and forth between different programs, computers and organizations.

The upcoming Office upgrade -- code-named "Office 12" -- will have new default XML file formats for the Word wordprocessing, the Excel spreadsheet and Powerpoint presentations programs, Microsoft said.

Last month, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates said that Office 12 would make it easier for workers to "focus, prioritize and apply their expertise, visualize and understand key data, and reduce the amount of time they spend dealing with the complexity of an information-rich environment."

Microsoft, as well as other major software companies, have been building XML capabilities into their products over the last few years.

OpenOffice, a free software suite with document, spreadsheet and presentation programs, as well as StarOffice, an $80 version developed by Sun Microsystems Inc., both are XML-based as well.

Microsoft's current Office version retails for between $150 and $400, depending upon the edition.

Betsy Frost, Microsoft's a senior marketing director in the Microsoft business group that includes Office, said that the XML capabilities will mainly benefit companies and corporate workers who need to tap into a variety of different databases.

Microsoft said it would begin discussing details about the new XML file format at TechEd, Microsoft's annual meeting for information technology managers and developers in Orlando, Florida, next week.

The new default formats for Word, Excel and Powerpoint will change, respectively, from ."doc," ".xls" and ".ppt" to ".docx," ".xlsx" and ".pptx," Microsoft said.

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