Microsoft Corp.'s Visio, best known as software for making static flow charts, is evolving into a tool for creating 'live' data-fed diagrams akin to Web 2.0 mashups.
Microsoft also plans to inject business process management (BPM) features into Visio so that charts will not only be able to view processes in real-time, but possibly also able to execute changes in their workflow.
"Right now if you want to execute a process, you have to hand this off to BizTalk or Visual Studio to do all of this coding," said William Golding, Microsoft's director of product management for Visio, in a Tuesday interview.
These features may arrive in the next version of Visio, which is scheduled for release around 2010, according to Golding, who was speaking while at the Microsoft Office Visio Conference. The conference is taking place Tuesday and Wednesday at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters, with about 300 partners and users in attendance.
Visio is part of the Office family, though it is not included in any of the seven Office 2007 bundles.
Nevertheless, Visio 2007 has sold several million copies, he said. The standard version has a street price of $259 while the pro version retails for about $559.
All told, Visio has 15 million users, according to Golding. It is most widely used in industries such as manufacturing, professional services and financial services, Golding said.
The number one user within companies, however, remains IT. Golding estimates about a third of Visio's customers are IT staffers, who use the software, for instance, to diagram their network infrastructure and workflow.
Microsoft, Microsoft Office, Visio, Web 2.0