SAPI 5.0 also will recognize XML tags from the Web. This will allow nonvisible XML tags to flag the speech engine and execute commands. The result will be a highly interactive Web site not possible with HTML, DeStefanis said.
"Reading of XML would imply that it will support Voice XML, or other dialects written in XML that could be downloaded from a Web site," said Bill Meisel, an analyst at TMA Associates, in Tarzana, Calif.
On the application hosting front, Microsoft is betting that Office 10's further embrace of the Web will boost the suite's attractiveness to ASPs (application service providers) and ISVs looking to host Office applications on a rental basis. Microsoft recently beggan offering applications on a rental basis to small businesses at www.bcentral.com.
"Their vision is that within two years there will be a large number of Office portals that will run Windows 2000 Datacenter in clusters, and offer Office applications and collaboration and conferencing services on a rental basis," TNT's Schnoll said.
Microsoft declined to comment on Office 10.