This InfoWorld article discusses Microsoft’s plan for using Office components as front ends for business systems using web services as the communications glue.
Not a bad idea, but I would like to see an open source solution: OpenOffice.org with support for XML-RPC, SOAP, and an asynchronous messaging system like Java’s JMS.
As an author, I use Microsoft Office (usually just Word) because that is what publishers want. However, I wrote 2 of my last 3 books using OpenOffice.org for the actual writing and then used Word just to insure that the file formats were what my publishers wanted.
My problem with Office is the proprietary file formats – I believe that companies, government organizations, and individuals all put themselves at risk by storing important information in files with proprietary formats.
When I use Linux or Windows, I find that OpenOffice.org is every bit as good (for my work process) as Office. Unfortunately, under Mac OS X, I find myself using Office more and OpenOffice.org less because of the overhead of running under X Windows.