November 16, 2006 12:40 PM PST
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The XML format is there for a very important reason. XML has become--starting with work we and others did in 1996--it's become the way that you can exchange rich data. Whenever you want to read and write data outside of documents, in the past, you had to understand the structure of our application and the command structure, and you could even become very version-dependent on that. Now all you do is say, "Hey, here's a named XML range, read out the data."
So we put a big investment in the XML format documents. People can set the thing to save in the old format only, if they choose to do that, or they can save in the new format. But you're right, that's a new thing. And we had to think hard about, "Yes, this is important to do." And then we went and documented the formats in a standards way.
Looking out, what are some of the tasks that workers don't do from their desks today that are the information worker tasks of the future?
The big emerging activities are, No. 1, real-time communication. (He points to a traditional desk phone.) In terms of how you conference, you can't screen-share, you can't see who called you while you were gone. That phone, you'll laugh at that. That's worse than the typewriter. We've started this with Office Communicator. It gives you the video, gives you the integration with voice mail, e-mail, all those things. So I'd put that No. 1.
I'd put collaboration No. 2, and that's where SharePoint comes in in a deep way. I'd put business intelligence No. 3, a very deep thing, I'd put aids to buying and selling tasks that you do as a consumer or as you do as a business. There's a lot of horizontal things we see ourselves doing there that will be pretty important.
So, you know, it's a fun time for us, because Office 2007 is such a big deal. Now we get to step back and think, "OK--where do we go from here?"
And those areas I touched on. Well, the relationship to the mobile phone, I'd add that as well. That Office works super well with Windows Mobile. There's a ton more we can do in scenarios that span mobile phone and Office and lead in that.