So far, I've pretty much ignored the news of Office 11 and its XML capabilities. In this InfoWorld piece, Jon Udell discusses in detail what it does and why it matters. After reading it, I've decided that I'd better start paying more attention to Office 11. I've written before about the vast amounts of government data that is largely unavailable because its unstructured and unindexed. Office 11, if used right (and therein lies the rub), promises to be an important technology in solving this problem. The 2000 and XP upgrades to Office were easily ignored. Many agencies have not upgraded since Office 97 and its worked out just fine (and certainly saved some money). I think Office 11 will change that.
The fact is, Microsoft may have finally seceded in doing with product development what they couldn't do with oppressive licensing and software audits: given us a reason to buy their stuff (I hope someone in Redmond is paying attention). The question that faces us is how to make this kind of upgrade happen. We have a number of machine/OS combinations that will not likely support Office 11 and there are, as always, financial concerns. Many of the applications of Office 11 won't be deployable until most desktops are sporting it. This is a good example of how the lowly desktop is becoming a critical part of the enterprise architecture and choices that individual division make affects the ability of the enterprise to interoperate. Its gotten a lot more interesting that "can Word Perfect read Word documents?".