Amazon Capitalizes on Microsoft Office XML

Microsoft , continuing to march toward the launch of its Office 2003 productivity suite in two weeks, cut a deal with Amazon.com Tuesday that will give users the ability to access Amazon’s products directly from Microsoft’s applications.

The Amazon.com Research Services for Microsoft Office System is an add-on for Microsoft’s suite that users can download from the Office Marketplace (a subsection of the Office Online service Microsoft debuted last month).

The two companies said the add-on was a joint development product utilizing Amazon Web services and Office’s new XML capabilities to give users access to Amazon.com from the Research Task Pane in Office. As an example, a user reading a bibliography in a Word document could click on a book title and purchase the book within the Research Task Pane without leaving the Word document.

Amazon noted that the add-on would also allow users to add a footnote, bibliography entry and cover art for books to such documents without having to manually enter the information into the document.

The Research Task Pane is a feature in the Word 2003, Excel 2003, PowerPoint 2003 and Access 2003 applications. It also appears in the OneNote 2003 note-taking application for tablets, as well as Publisher 2003 and Visio 2003. The companies said it uses industry-standard XML to allow users to retrieve and navigate relevant internal or external Web-based information from within Office.

The deal with Amazon is only one of many enabled by Office’s new XML technology. On Sept. 23, Microsoft announced another high profile partner in the form of online career site Monster, which has created a series of XML-enabled “smart” document templates (also available through the Office Online site), which can help Office users build resumes.

The templates use smart documents, an XML-based feature in Word 2003 and Excel 2003 which includes an interactive task pane that provides context-sensitive information and a list of actions the use can choose from, relevant to the user’s current location in a structured XML document. In Monster’s templates, the task pane will provide users with advice and feedback from Monster as they create their resumes.

For instance, if a job seeker is adding “Objective” information to his resume, the task pane will provide information from Monster resume experts on how to create the most effective description of his objective for the position he’s seeking.

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