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Chapter 1. Microsoft Office and XML > Opening Office to the World

1.4. Opening Office to the World

While the .doc and .xls file formats have served as de facto standard file formats for years, and developers have created a variety of tools for getting information into and out of these formats, writing code that could produce or consume them has never been much fun. Technologies like mail merges and ODBC connections have made it possible to connect the Office applications to other tools, but this is the first time that Microsoft has taken large steps to make Office data accessible through means other than the Office products themselves, and simultaneously has made the applications much more agnostic about where their information comes from.

By freeing users from their applications' traditional perspectives on information sources, Microsoft has created a whole new range of possibilities for using its applications as interactive browsers. Users who have been frustrated by the limited interaction capabilities of web browsers can now access their data, and edit it, in familiar applications supporting many different styles of information manipulation. For the most part, the applications continue to prefer working with local documents and can read documents from the Web, but they have taken a big step toward integration with Web- and XML-based infrastructure.


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