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There are two sides to your question:
1. How will the hats change to allow what you describe
2. How will authoring styles/standards change
Answering the first question is difficult as I - and everyone else on these forums - don't know the plans of vendors for future release. If we did we be employees. There is a RH beta test for a new version under way but those involved in it have signed NDAs.
Answering the second part of the question is also an unknown. Part of being a Tech Author is responding to the needs of your users. If you follow the posts on these forums there are often demands from users wanting to push the boundary of what RH can provide. Sometimes providing this demands use of other tools or thinking outside the box. Keeping on top of the trends in documentation helps in doing just that.
In addition to Colum's fine words, you need to realize that often, the office product line incorporates help features that are never offered to the public. Remember, they are Microsoft and have full control.
Additionally, I think vendors often take a "wait and see" approach in order to see if the features they offer via Office help are easily mimicked or duplicated, and are well received by the general population. (I typed "kill clippy" into a Google search and got 70,600 hits).
Note that I'm not suggesting what you are seeing is either good or bad. I've not seen it myself so I can't form a personal opinion on it good or bad.
Just a thought... Rick
I have been rumenating on this and other help issues in my little blog
As you have already alluded, I think a key way to prepare for this is to ensure that your content is well categorised and that your content is well ntegrated with other parts of the development cycle and draws on technologies such as XAML that make this integration more seamless.
As to how this will affect the tools, I concure with the others, that for now, we just need to sit tight and do the best with those we already have.