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   InfoPath, OpenOffice, XForms (Was: Low-end Office 11 won't do user schem

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In a message dated 13/04/2003 16:11:23 GMT Daylight Time, uche.ogbuji@fourthought.com writes:

It would make sense to establish InfoPath at the baseline in order to improve
the value of a product that they already know is profitable, and thus stay
ahead of competitors.  Instead, they are costing themselves goodwill at the
low end at a precise time when their cash cow is under threat (when InfoWorld
rates OOo within a point of MS Office itself and customers look at the cost
comparisons, this spells trouble: not immediately, because a great many still
just buy what's bundled, but any manager of a successful product understands
such threats).


I suggest you take a look at the following:

Download the ~50 page InfoPath Guide from the latter URL.

OK ... walking way out on the proverbial plank here :) ....

My $0.02 on this is that Microsoft are about to make a much more radical change than the one you suggest. And I think they also have in mind a much more nuanced marketing approach.

If my guess is correct then Microsoft's plans for InfoPath are both ambitious and radical.

The URLs I pointed you to (which I hadn't seen when I posted earlier) emphasise what I suspected - InfoPath as a dynamic XML-enabled forms frontend for a whole raft of business-critical backend information handling processes based on XML Web Services.

InfoPath is being positioned as an enterprise level front end .... *the* enterprise level frontend ... to XML Web Services. The sales pitch is that better information integration through InfoPath will bring real business benefits compared to, say, using Excel in isolation. Interesting that MS feels confident enough to refer to filling out an Excel expenses claim as "an acceptable solution a few years back". My take on that is that if MS are publicly referring to a use of their own product as outdated they are preparing to move on.

MS are not simply improving Office, as you suggest they should, but are preparing the ground for leaving traditional Office behind as yesterday's application. Thus when OpenOffice fully catches up MS will have moved the game on to a new target. :) ... InfoPath.

InfoPath etc will, if I am guessing correctly, is targeted to be the new Microsoft killer ap!

Now isn't that a pretty visible hostage to fortune? :)

Of course, InfoPath will be joined to a whole raft of backend stuff and its potential value comes largely from that integration. Read the URLs to see what is currently in sight.

So InfoPath will be sold as a quantum leap above "plain old" Office - the new Office that businesses which are serious about improving productivity will buy. No, MS aren't being quite that bold or direct this time round - perhaps they remember frailty in version 1.0 of other apps from the past and also traditional Office is still selling in some quantity ... but I think that they are laying the groundwork to position InfoPath as a quantum leap in business efficiency.

MS Word is the biggest cash cow MS has.  Yes, more so than Windows, as I
understand it, because they have to provide much deper OEM discounts for the
latter.  In your estimation, it seems, MSFT would be trying to mold InfoPath
into another cash generator, effectively by upselling to the large base of MS
Word sers that could afford it.

Yes, I wouldn't be surprised if currently MS Word is the big cash cow. But MS has had other cash cows in the past and then moved on - remember DOS? :) ... and I wonder if they are hoping that InfoPath etc will be the next generation cash cow.

If my guess is right they are making the moves in preparation for traditional Office sales to decline. And they have the foundations of the next generation cash cow already in place.

Time will tell if my guess/prediction is correct.

A couple of other aspects interest me.

InfoPath has some characteristics of a new generation of rich client. I raised that topic a few months back and was stamped on. :)

Second, it looks very much as if InfoPath and XForms will be fighting out a battle for a very important new space - the XML forms-derived data space. Very interesting times would seem to be ahead for both technologies/products.

XML-based forms looks to be a space to watch very closely.

Now I will go and shelter down my rabbit hole in Wonderland since you are bound to disagree. :)

Andrew Watt


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