Extensible markup language (XML) is becoming such an important standard that it will be a common thread through all of Microsoft's products, company officials say.
At its TechEd '99 conference, the company outlined its direction with XML, unveiled building blocks of its knowledge management framework and released a technical beta of Exchange Server. XML is a tagging system similar to HTML that provides data about data.
"XML will be a core part of all platforms and applications including Office, BackOffice, Visual Studio, Windows and MSN," said James Utzschneider, director of industry frameworks and BizTalk.
Microsoft also unveiled a product code-named Babylon that connects Windows applications to legacy databases by converting XML messages into legacy formats. It will also connect to BizTalk, a server that links electronic commerce sites. Microsoft also released the draft specification of the BizTalk framework and opened the BizTalk.org Web site.
The company laid out its "knowledge worker" strategy around Exchange. The plan includes the Digital Dashboard, a customised interface to a user's most-used resources, and Exchange Web Store, which makes the messaging server a Web platform. Microsoft also showed off document library and searching features for Exchange, code-named Tahoe. All those features will be available in the next release of Exchange, dubbed Platinum. Microsoft also announced a workflow designer tool for Office Developer, called Grizzly.
The company also made available its Microsoft Data Engine, a sort of lightweight SQL Server 7.0 database that can be used on offline devices.