I wonder if Mary and her colleagues operate in the stratosphere of Microsoft or do they become involved with the vision of product evolution in a user legal sense at the developer or detail level?
A users legal document integrity or fidelity in the Office product range still has a long way to go. When I look at the evolution of the Office product I see its genesis as starting in the non-legal domain, a toy, in a paper bound world. The product still
lives there, is no toy, and has been taken up big time by global government agencies and industries like pharmaceuticals were there is an FDA or other legal requirement.
Mary works in an undiscovered country and alludes to the difficulties of relating previous case law with new technology. This seems especially so when the case law can come from many countries and change dynamically.
What I would like to see, is discussion on how the fidelity of an electronic Office document cited in evidence would be set beyond repudiation. Perhaps there should be a version of Office designed for this purpose and one used specifically when there was a
legal requirement or obligation.
Another issue is technology related. If legal documents were stored electronically then their content would need technology to read them, technology that would not be available in the long term. This contrasts with paper, which requires no technology to impart
meaning and which has considerable longevity compared to a hard drive platter.
Is this the push behind Office 12 going XML, I wonder? It goes a long way in overcoming the technology issue but reduces the fidelity requirement. Presumably, digital fingerprints for archived Office products will be built into Office 12?