Microsoft officials announced today at Internet World that the next version of Office--likely to be dubbed Office 99 when it debuts in early 1999--will allow users to save documents in a native HTML format that uses XML meta data to retain all of the features of standard Office documents. The use of XML means that Excel charts OfficeArt drawings, for example, will not only be accessible--but also modifiable--over the Web from a browser.
"We need to make publishing to the Web as easy as printing. We have to make it natural," said Matthew Price, an Office group product manager at Microsoft. "We are betting that Web documents are going to be as pervasive as printed documents."
Microsoft also announced plans to make this feature part of Office for the Mac, but don't expect it to be ready in time for Macintosh Office 98, which is due "this winter." Macintosh Office 98 will include several features not available to Windows users of Office 97