Microsoft Redefines Workflow With Windows Workflow Foundation

LOS ANGELES — Sept. 14, 2005 — Today at the Professional Developers Conference2005 (PDC05), Microsoft Corp. introduced Windows® Workflow Foundation, a workflow engine, programming model and set of tools for developers to rapidly build workflow-enabled applications. Windows Workflow Foundation is a set of activities that coordinate people and software. With it, Microsoft is redefining workflow by incorporating it into a mainstream development platform and supporting both human and system workflow across client and server scenarios. Workflow capabilities will be available to developers via WinFX™, the new programming model for Windows Vista™. Developers can workflow-enable applications using the familiar and popular Visual Studio® development tools. Microsoft also announced plans to use Windows Workflow Foundation to workflow-enable the next version of Microsoft® Office products, code-named Office “12,” BizTalk® Server and Microsoft Dynamics™.

The company previewed significant enhancements to Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies including integrated workflow capabilities built upon Windows Workflow Foundation directly inside familiar Office system applications, bringing together document management, records management and Web content management for unified, integrated, scalable enterprise content management (ECM). The goal is to provide every information worker in an organization with a simple way to create, share, manage, archive and find a diverse spectrum of content, and to do that in a way that is extensible for developers.

“Today, workflow solutions are ad hoc, complex and limited in use because developers must implement their own workflow engines,” said Eric Rudder, senior vice president of Servers and Tools at Microsoft. “Windows Workflow Foundation makes workflow an integral Windows platform capability, promising to dramatically increase the availability and simplicity of workflow-enabled applications.”

Windows Workflow Foundation supports a broad range of workflow scenarios including line-of-business applications, user interface page flow, document-centric workflow, human workflow, composite workflow for service-oriented applications, business-rule-driven workflow and workflow for systems management. Beta 1 of the Windows Workflow Foundation is available for download today. Scheduled for release in the second half of 2006, Windows Workflow Foundation joins Windows Presentation Foundation and Windows Communication Foundation as a key technology accessible through the WinFX programming model.

More information about Windows Workflow Foundation can be found at http://msdn.microsoft.com/workflow.

Windows Workflow Foundation in Office “12,” Microsoft Dynamics™ Products, BizTalk Server and Third-Party Applications

Today, Microsoft demonstrated how developers can build new kinds of ECM solutions on top of Microsoft Office “12,” which takes advantage of Windows Workflow Foundation. Office “12” will provide out-of-the-box support for common workflow solutions such as document creation and management, content archival, records management, policy-based retention, and Web content management. Solutions built using Microsoft Office ECM will be able to effectively harness the information that flows through companies, regardless of where the content resides or in what format it appears. Independent software vendors (ISVs) will also have the freedom to build specific vertical workflow solutions and surface them to customers directly inside Office “12.” In addition, Office “12” ECM solutions will provide a common set of IT administration tools and consistent development, deployment and management models. The Microsoft Office “12” ECM functionality delivers significantly enhanced Web content management capabilities over those provided by Microsoft Content Management Server 2002. Microsoft plans to make available migration guidance and tools to enable customers to make the transition to benefit from the new unified, integrated and scalable ECM capabilities.

“Windows Workflow Foundation is a very important technology for Office ‘12.’ It gives us the ability to add powerful new capabilities like ECM and forms processing to the widely used and familiar Microsoft Office System,” said Steven Sinofsky, senior vice president of Office at Microsoft. “Windows Workflow Foundation also gives Office developers the ability to extend portal, content management and forms processing capabilities in Office ‘12’ to other applications.”

Epicor Software Corp., a leading provider of integrated enterprise software solutions for the midmarket, is one of numerous ISVs and systems integrators that have been working with Microsoft to validate the feature set of Windows Workflow Foundation including its unique support for both system workflow, with a sequential workflow representation, and human workflow, with a state machine representation. By wrapping existing components as Windows Workflow Foundation custom activities, the company is able to enhance the existing business process management capabilities of Epicor Internet Component Environment (ICE), Epicor’s Microsoft .NET-based tool set for the development of enterprise-class applications.

“Epicor is excited about the possibility and opportunity Windows Workflow Foundation will offer both our developers and our customers,” said James Norwood, vice president of product marketing for Epicor. “Windows Workflow Foundation provides a straightforward programming model and familiar design tools for our developers. Furthermore, utilizing standard features such as Windows Workflow Policies will further strengthen the advanced business process management capabilities that service-oriented architecture in Epicor solutions offers, delivering greater flexibility for end users by enabling them to orchestrate the application on their terms.”

The release of BizTalk Server in the time frame of the next version of Windows Server™, code-named “Longhorn,” will use Windows Workflow Foundation to enhance support for integrating applications, trading partners and business process management. “BizTalk Server customers will benefit from the system and human workflow immediately with the Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies adapter in BizTalk Server 2006 and Office ‘12.’ Moving forward, Windows Workflow Foundation will be deeply integrated into BizTalk Server for business process management,” said Tom Casey, BizTalk Server Product Unit Manager at Microsoft. Windows Workflow Foundation will also be used across future versions of the Microsoft Dynamics™ business solutions, such as Microsoft Dynamics AX (formerly Axapta®) and Microsoft Dynamics CRM (formerly Microsoft CRM).

New Development Opportunities Abound With Office “12”

In his keynote address today, Sinofsky discussed new opportunities for Office developers, including workflow solutions and beyond. Microsoft Office provides a broad platform of programs, servers and services built on industry standards to make it easy for developers to create and extend enterprise information work solutions. For example, developers today can use Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Web service interfaces to integrate Office programs with corporate applications and business processes. In the future, developers will see even more opportunity for solutions based on Office “12” advancements such as the unified Windows SharePoint Services server foundation, ECM capabilities, deeper XML support and a new user interface (UI). The redesigned Office “12” UI, unveiled for the first time yesterday, gives developers a new way to customize their solutions and build unique commands into the applications.

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