Microsoft recruits vendors to integrate Office into business apps

Microsoft recruits vendors to integrate Office into business apps

Summary: Microsoft is stepping up its campaign to get more independent software vendors to integrate Office (and SharePoint) front-ends with their own business applications.

TOPICS: Microsoft

Microsoft is stepping up its campaign to get more independent software vendors to integrate Office front-ends with their own business applications.

There already exist a number of these Office-front-ended applications -- which Microsoft has christened Office Business Applications, or OBAs. Some are commercial applications, like the jointly developed Microsoft-SAP Duet. Others are custom-built proprietary applications, via which a company mashes up Office with its own line-of-business application, for in-house use.

Microsoft officials are claiming there are already "hundreds" of ISVs building and deploying OBAs, in spite of the fact that Microsoft has done relatively little to date, at least formally, to build the OBA community. Companies have built Office and SharePoint mashups with Epicor, Siebel, PeopleSoft and Pivotal, Microsoft officials said.

At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference on July 10, Microsoft announced its new OBA OnRamp program, designed to get more software vendors and systems integrators build more OBAs. Microsoft will provide participants in the program with sales, marketing, consulting and technical help. They will provide them with OBA Quickstart kits -- copies of which Microsoft is distributing to all 12,000 attendees of this week's partner show to help jumpstart their applications. Microsoft also plans to allow OBA OnRamp partners to advertise their solutions on Microsoft's new OBACentral Web site.

A related aside: OBAs encompass more than just Office plus some back-end application. Some OBAs also are a mash-up of SharePoint with another back-end application.

Microsoft recently launched a new SharePoint resources mash-up site designed to encourage more partners to make use of SharePoint's enterprise search and other capabilities. Microsoft is encouraging developers to think about doing more SharePoint-inclusive composite applications, like new business dashboards and mash-ups "where a new business capability is created by assembling multiple existing software assets: web services, APIs, web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom), gadgets, and screen scraping (and) where content is sourced from APIs, Web feeds (e.g. RSS or Atom), gadgets, web services and screen scraping."

Anyone -- other than Mike Cox (who I am sure has built many an OBA already) -- tried mashing up Office with a back-end app? Any interest in doing so?

Topic: Microsoft


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • Bad Idea

    No, not because it is MS, or Office, or Quicken, or OpenOffice, when you integrate a 3rd parties applications into your own, you are tied to their delivery schedule, have to rely on them for security fixes, have to pay (through the nose when you are 100% dependent on them?) license fees and you lose control of your own quality control end to end.

    That is not to say you don't build a complete ability to ACCESS the external apps, provide for seamless DATA access, but you don't integrate them into your actual product. Any company that does is taking short term gain for long term pain.

    [B]via which a company mashes up Office with its own line-of-business application[/B]

    And how do you then integrate fixes from the vendor into your mashed up code? Nope, I would never purchase a product that did this. (Again, I am not talking about ACCESS to the 34rd party app, I am talking about integrating into yours).

    • It's for added value

      Microsoft simply wants to add value to their product. If those vendors are too naive then they'll fell for the trap. Just like those people who bought the not-ready-for-primetime-Vista, once again they fell for the MS Trap. Being conditioned through marketing hype- "This is greate." "Better OS". "Better Security".

      Microsoft care less if your product will work or not in their OS. And, naive users will always put all the blame on the Third Party Vendors. Take a simple look at Vista, folks are having problem with their hardwares and they go blaming themselves and the hardware manufacturer of a product that does not work with Vista. Blame everything else except Microsoft.

      Should not Microsoft release a public apology of not doing what it's supposed to do? "Backwards compatibility."

      So if those naive vendors fell for the trap. It'll only take time until Microsoft will eat up their piece of the pie. MS have their own business applications too. ;)
  • Actually, open source vendor Alfresco has integrated w/ Office

    Looks pretty sweet, too (though I'm biased, as I work for Alfresco). 100% open source collaboration/content management, fully integrated with Office. Like Sharepoint, only zero lock-in.
  • RE: Microsoft recruits vendors to integrate Office into business apps

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