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RE: FYI: Microsoft Pledges Improved FrontPage

From: Charles (Chuck) Oppermann <chuckop@MICROSOFT.com>
Date: Thu, 1 Oct 1998 21:03:09 -0700
Message-ID: <D70342829C12D2119D0700805FBECA2F03EDE239@RED-MSG-55>
To: kg9ae@geocities.com, w3c-wai-ig@w3.org
I was going to wait awhile before posting on this, but it's important that
things don't get out of hand.

<<
Office 2000 file formats are XML-based.  From what I have read, the XML
formats are designed to translate to HTML considerably better than the older
formats.
>>

This isn't exactly accurate.  The applications within Office 2000 can use
HTML as the default file format if the user chooses.  For example, an Word
document saved as HTML will contain CSS along with embedded XML that help to
preserve the rich formatting that has always been available in Word.  Using
any browser, the formatting downgrades to the browsers ability to understand
the markup.

This is very beneficial to accessibility because it allows document
structure to exist in publicly available formats.

Using HTML is an option, and can be the default.  However, the regular
binary formats are still available and are the installation default format.

<<
That little Office Assistant would be cool if it pointed out Accessibility
flaws.  Now, that would be an improvement.
>>

The Office Assistant has been improved and a lot of end-user feedback
regarding the accessibility of the Assistant has been incorporated.  The
Assistant is now totally optional, and no loss of information or
functionally will occur if the Assistant is not used.  Also, the Assistant
is a lot smarter about going away when you don't want it.  

Concerning the comment about pointing out Accessibility flaws - hopefully in
the next several days I'll be able to make some statements about that.  It's
obviously something that would be useful.

Also, the product has not yet released - all this could change.

Personally, I like the Assistant and I rotate through the different ones
every few weeks.  The concept of the Office Assistant is very powerful.
Context help based on what you are doing in a friendly, helpful manner.
Currently, Microsoft is showing a television ad that features a Microsoft
researcher who works on natural language processing.  Using speech
recognition and text to speech output, the ad shows the Assistant (in this
case a squawky bird) telling him about a upcoming appointment, he tells the
assistant to reschedule the appointment.  This is the future of the
Assistant and will not be a part of Office 2000.  The whole idea is giving
the user multiple means of getting input into the computer and multiple
means of getting the results out.  That can only be a good thing to
everyone.

FYI, don't confuse this ad with the other Microsoft ad featuring Peter Wong,
the Accessibility and Disabilities Test lead.  In the television ad
currently running, talks about his experiences with making computers more
accessible and better for everyone.  At the end of the ad, the visual is him
picking up his cane and tapping out of his office.  These television ads are
part of a Microsoft campaign to feature 5 employees doing interesting work
around the company and discuss their projects, hopes and dreams.  They are
very effective.  Another FYI - I was supposed to be in Peter's ad, and spent
several hours being filmed alongside of Peter.  Alas, I got left on the
editing room floor.  Nonetheless, Peter's ad is a powerful statement on the
employment of people who are blind in high tech jobs and that Microsoft
considers his work to be key to the company.

Charles Oppermann
Program Manager, Accessibility and Disabilities Group, 
Microsoft Corporation
mailto:chuckop@microsoft.com http://microsoft.com/enable/
"A computer on every desk and in every home, usable by everyone!"
Received on Friday, 2 October 1998 00:03:11 GMT

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