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I've been talking more and more with ISVs and developers who are interested in using Office as a UI platform. And now that Visual Studio 2008 comes with Visual Studio Tools for Office installed, developing Office Business Applications (OBAs) are much easier.
One aspect of using Microsoft Office as a platform is the idea of document interchange. You can use Office Open XML as a standards-based document format. Yesterday, the Office Open XML file format received the necessary number of votes for approval as an ISO/IEC international standard. You can read more about Office Open XML international approval at the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) site.
You may remember WordProcessingML and SpreadsheetML. Office Open XML is the formalization of a standard that began with those XML schemas. This new standard takes the next step and has incorporated feedback from companies around the world. If you have worked with WordML or any of the others, you'll find the new standard very familiar.
Open XML Resources for developers
There are several links that you might want to check out.
I recommend the list of resources found on Doug Mahugh's blog posting: Open XML Resources for Developers. Doug points to links on how to get started, videos, portals, developer tools. And the tools are for .NET Framework developers and Java developers.
Other resources you might want to check out include:
Microsoft Open XML SDK pre-release is available
We have two versions coming: a version 1.0 that will be released in May, and then a version 2.0 that will be available as a CTP this summer, and will be released around the time of the next major release of Office (Office "14"). You can learn more in Doug Mahugh's posting, Roadmap for the OpenXML application programmer interface (API).
And you can get pre-release bits and documentation at the Microsoft SDK for Open XML Formats site.