Today, Microsoft provided a free preview of Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003 Service Pack 1 (SP1), which will be part of Office 2003 SP1 (previously called Service Release 1--SR-1). According to Microsoft, the InfoPath 2003 SP1 preview release includes improved programming tools, page-layout controls, and schema and digital-signature support, making the first-generation information-gathering program more powerful.
"With a wide variety of companies already using InfoPath for their organizations, we are delighted by the reception InfoPath has received," Rajesh Jha, InfoPath general manager, said. "The enhancements that will be delivered as part of the forthcoming Microsoft Office System service pack will provide organizations with enhanced stability and security and will equip developers with a robust environment to create solutions that can adapt to the ever-changing needs of today's businesses."
The InfoPath 2003 SP1 preview is fully backward-compatible with the original InfoPath 2003 release and can be mixed into existing environments. SP1 comes with a wide range of improvements over the original release, including
- better security--improved support for digital signatures so that users can sign individual portions of a form and verify their intentions even after future changes are made to the form
- better reliability--enhanced document recovery, data-submission and filtering controls, and stability-related enhancements that are based on data gathered from users through Office 2003's automated error-reporting tools
- better technology integration--improved handwriting support for Tablet PC users and simpler email-attachment support, which lets users send InfoPath forms to one another through Outlook
- better programming environment--richer page-layout controls that will help developers and technical users more easily create new forms, integration with Microsoft BizTalk Server 2000's workflow-automation functionality, customizable capabilities accessible through professional programming environments such as Visual Basic .NET and Visual C#, and more extensive support for XML schemas and XML Schema Definition (XSD) language data sources
Office 2003 SP1 will also include dramatic changes to other applications, including several expected changes to Office OneNote 2003, Microsoft's new note-taking application. Microsoft says it will release Office 2003 SP1 in June. You can download the InfoPath 2003 SP1 preview from the Microsoft Web site.