Microsoft, Amazon partner on Web services

A software application allowing access to Amazon.com products and data without a Web browser while users are working in Microsoft Office System applications will be available for free download later this quarter, the companies said Tuesday.

Amazon.com Research Services for Microsoft Office System will be available at http://www.office.microsoft/com/marketplace. The companies did not say specifically when the application will be ready for download.

The software will integrate Amazon Web Services so that users can access Amazon.com from the Research Task Pane, available in the Microsoft Office 2003 Edition. Users will be able to access information at Amazon.com and buy items without launching a browser or closing the Office document, e-mail message or presentation application they are using at the same time. The applications will also let users add footnotes, bibliography entries or book cover art from Amazon.com into Microsoft documents without having to do so manually, the companies said.

The Research Task Pane uses XML (Extensible Markup Language) to allow retrieval and navigation of Web-based information from within Office programs. It is a feature of the desktop applications Word and Excel; Outlook messaging and collaboration software; PowerPoint; Access; OneNote, which enables note taking; and Publisher and Visio drawing and diagramming software.

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Nancy Weil

IDG News Service

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