Microsoft Welcomes Office Application Developers

I remember, way back when, my first experience with an office application.  We were using a Unix-based mail system which required you to periodically issue some strange command to check and see if you had new mail.  So my friend Steve wrote a little “shell” program that would beep and display a message on my terminal whenever a new email arrived.

Since that time, with the advent of smart computer devices and “App Stores”, consumers can get all kinds of applications to make their lives easier.  For almost any imaginable need there is (as Apple used to say) an app for that.

Enterprise users haven’t had it so good.  New capabilities have historically been delivered via new iterations of installed software applications.  Unless you were the code hacking type, if you wanted something more or different from the application, you put in your request and waited for the next version of the software.

Microsoft intends to change all that.  As part of its embrace of “the cloud” Microsoft has announced a “cloud application model” for its Office and SharePoint products.

This is big news, especially for SharePoint users.  Microsoft figures that the prospect of selling to a billion Office users will get at least a few developers excited.  And creating a developer community will effectively crowdsource unique application development that will make Microsoft’s platforms even more valuable.

SharePoint has long been the web development platform people love to hate.  It’s incredibly rich and can do all kinds of things.  But it has a steep learning curve which has caused some users to turn to simpler single-function solutions for needs such as file sharing.  Now Microsoft can encourage the development of packaged SharePoint solutions for all kinds of needs and all kinds of market segments.

This is great for us here at CGNET as well.  We’re not in the application development business, but we’re often called on to advise our customers on technology choices to solve their business needs.  Now we’ll be able to offer our customers cloud-based SharePoint solutions via Microsoft Office 365, and configure applications on that platform that will address each customer’s requirements.

If you’re a user, this should give you some hope; finally you can connect, communicate and share without becoming a PERL programmer!

If you’re an IT Manager, this should help you sleep a little better at night.  You don’t have to hire and manage application developers to customize your Office applications.  And knowing that Microsoft is providing the tools to control which applications are allowed in your environment (and disable misbehaving applications) means that you can maintain your Office environment in a supportable state.

This will be an interesting space to watch over the coming months!

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