Microsoft Set Sights On Spring Update Of IBF

Information Bridge Framework

What had been referred to as IBF 1.5 by partner sources actually will be a service pack for the integration software, a Microsoft spokeswoman confirmed.

The update, which will be delivered via the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN), will add support for two new host applications, InfoPath and Internet Explorer. The current IBF supports the latest versions of Word, Excel and Outlook.

In theory, this toolkit would facilitate a seamless flow of information between Microsoft Office client applications and legacy data of all types on the back end. But in reality the first release did not meet expectations. It was "good in theory and in concept, [but] the effort to develop around it, debug it and deploy it was too much," said one source close to the Redmond, Wash.-based company, adding that he hopes the beta code he expects in February will address these issues.

"InfoPath is good for putting data into back-end systems, but IBF makes it easier to disseminate" that back-office information once it's reaped, said a solution provider on the East Coast.

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The source close to Microsoft agreed. "Does IBF help you write queries against Oracle database data? No. But once you have the data, it makes it a lot easier to distribute it via the familiar Word or Excel front ends," he said. CRN first reported on the unannounced project one year ago. Microsoft publicly disclosed the plans five months later at its TechEd event, and IBF appeared last summer.

Microsoft has shown bits of the service pack at its IT Forum in Denmark last November and in Webinars, the spokeswoman said.

IBF is just part of Microsoft's push to entrench newer versions of Office at the desktop. Another part of that effort includes more planned Office-labeled servers accessible from the Office clients, CRN has reported.

PAULA ROONEY contributed to this story.