CRN : Breaking News : Microsoft To Bridge Office, Back Office Apps : 10:17 PM EST Thurs., Jan. 22, 2004: "Microsoft continues to build bridges between Office desktop apps and reservoirs of back-office data.
The 'Information Worker Bridge' project now under way seeks to make it easier for integrators or in-house developers to make Excel or Word de-facto front ends for back-end accounting, ERP or other applications, sources said.
In theory, this would take back-office integration beyond ODBC drivers and InfoPath, the Office application that lets people build dynamic forms on their desktops that tap into back-office XML data."
For an interesting leading indicator of how all of this is going to come together, check out the Microsoft Business Network; it combines Office 2003, Microsoft Business Solutions, and hosted Web services and templates from Microsoft for small- to medium-sized businesses that want to exchange invoices etc. over the Internet using Web services.