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Office Is Back on the Menu

When Microsoft launched its first Microsoft Office System Developers Conference yesterday, it reminded me of old times. In an era of Web services, AJAX-based rich Internet mashups and portable implementations of the .NET Framework, it's nice to know that Microsoft can still trundle out an old-fashioned, monolithic application platform without a hint of shame or irony.

As RDN contributing editor John Waters reports, Microsoft is touting Office as a platform for development, tying the ubiquitous productivity suite into everything from back-end ERP software to public-facing Web services. To that end, Redmond is promoting Office Business Applications (OBA) as a distinct class of Office-aligned applications for businesses.

During the conference keynote, Bill Gates demoed a FedEx Outlook add-in, called QuickShip, that lets users schedule FedEx deliveries to their contacts from within the e-mail and calendar client. Microsoft also released the Office Composition Toolkit, a reference application based on Office and SharePoint Server 2007 for creating enterprise mashups. Finally, the new Office Live Small Business service extends the value of deployed Office clients by tying them into Web-hosted services -- a classic play on Redmond's Software-plus-Services model.

The effort to uplevel Office is an understandable one. When you have OpenOffice and Google Apps commoditizing everything, you gotta run for the high ground. And in this case, as ever with Microsoft, that high ground is populated by developers. The question is: In a world where IT and users seek openness and flexibility, how compelling is an app dev platform that ties you into a truly massive client?

Are you developing OBAs for the Office platform? What do you like about Microsoft's strategy and what would you like changed? E-mail me at [email protected].

Posted by Michael Desmond on 02/12/2008

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