PowerPoint misses out on XML

The inclusion of XML has been promoted as a major feature of Office 2003 - but not all aspects of the suite will include it

Microsoft's tight development schedule stopped the software heavyweight including XML support within PowerPoint in its Office 2003 suite, senior officials have conceded.

Microsoft is promoting XML support as a key element of Office 2003 and while the suite's versions of Word and Excel include extensive support for XML, including the ability to tag and save data in XML format, those features aren't being made available within PowerPoint.

Microsoft officials say the move was simply due to the pressures of trying to update all products in the Office suite. "In the short term, it was just a development decision," said Bobby Moore, Office product manager. "The PowerPoint team needed to do some other things. You can expect to see it in future versions."

"It would have been nice (to have XML support) to make our story more complete," said Moore.

However, the move could put a crimp in Microsoft's plans to promote the concept of Office as a key tool for accessing business information buried in documents stored by individual users. That theme has been repeatedly emphasised during the company's Tech Ed conference in Brisbane, Australia.

The major additions to PowerPoint 2003 are enhanced collaboration and distribution features, according to Microsoft's official Web site for the product. PowerPoint is included in the standard, professional, small business and education editions of the suite.

A final release date for Office 2003 hasn't been made public, but Microsoft has said it expects it to be released before the end of the Australian winter. Having eliminated most of its commercial rivals in the 1990s, Office now faces fresh competition from Sun's StarOffice and the related open-source OpenOffice project.