Microsoft builds Office, Web services bridge

Expanding on its vision of Office as a front end to business applications, Microsoft on Monday announced the trial release of a software bundle that allows developers to link business systems to Office applications using Web services.

The bundle, called Office Information Bridge Framework, includes an Office add-in for interpreting XML (Extensible Markup Language) metadata, a server component that exposes data, views and actions of a Web service, and a metadata designer that plugs into the Visual Studio developer tool, Microsoft said at its Tech Ed user event in San Diego.

The Office Information Bridge Framework allows allow developers to add functionality to Office applications such as Outlook and Excel so users of those applications can access information from back-end business systems from within the Office applications, Microsoft said.

Microsoft pitches the Office to Web services bridge to enterprise developers as well as other software vendors to expand on Office. Its own Microsoft CRM product team is leading the way. By using the Office Information Bridge Framework, Microsoft CRM users can now access customer relationship management data from within Office applications, Microsoft said.

The Information Bridge Framework works with Visual Studio .Net 2003 and requires Windows Server 2003, SQL Server 2000 with Service Pack 3, Office Professional Edition 2003 and version 1.1 of the Microsoft .Net Framework. The final version of the framework is due in July, Microsoft said.

More information on the Office Information Bridge Framework is available at:

http://msdn.microsoft.com/office/ibframework

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