Microsoft, Xerox Join Forces On Document Management



Microsoft and Xerox disclosed plans yesterday to develop a new class of networked scanner and copy machine intended to streamline businesses' ability to digitize and distribute paper documents.

Xerox says it will integrate Microsoft Exchange and Compaq's Work Expeditor work-management software into its Document Centre line of digital copiers. Exchange Document Centre will automatically route scanned paper documents to PCs, fax them directly from a scanner, or have them automatically archived in a data warehouse or storage server. This will let scanners, printers, and fax machines "share a common networking infrastructure and [be] easily integrated with the PC infrastructure in corporations today," says Microsoft president Steve Ballmer.

For example, an employee scanning a document will be able to have it simultaneously routed to his or her PC, faxed to recipients who can receive only faxes, and attached as a digital document to an E-mail message sent to other recipients.

"While there is a lot of benefit to productivity here, there are issues around cost savings that this will also allow," says Xerox president and CEO G. Richard Thoman. In regard to productivity, employees will be able to eliminate time spent photocopying a document on one machine, scanning it into a digital format at another, faxing it from a third, and E-mailing it from a fourth. Employees will be able to send faxes to only certain recipients, or choose to send faxes over a corporate IP network, reducing telecom charges. "It would fundamentally eliminate those [fax] charges, and those are big numbers in many companies," Thoman says.

An initial version of a Document Centre-Work Expeditor system is expected to be available in June, while the more fully functional Exchange Document Centre is expected to start shipping in the fall.

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