Microsoft Office 15: What's an Agave?

Last year, word leaked about HTML5 and JavaScript add-ons coming for Office 15. Now we know the codename for those add-ons: Agaves.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Since the Microsoft codename "Agave" first leaked last month via The Verge, I've been looking for more information about what this coming Office 15 technology will do.

Ironically, my search led me back to an article I wrote in August 2011 about coming Web extensions for Office 15. These HTML5 and JavaScript add-ons for extending Office 15 applications are what are currently known among Office 15 testers as "Agaves."

With Office 15, developers will be able to use the Office JavaScript application programming interface (API) to create different kinds of Agaves, I've heard from my contacts. There seem to be different kinds of Agaves, including Content Agaves and Task Pane Agaves, according to one contact of mine with the Office 15 Technical Preview. And, as I wrote back in August last year, there will, indeed, be a SharePoint connection on the Agave front. My contacts say SharePoint apps will be able to be integrated with Agaves, as well

Consumers and business users will be able to discover and buy/download Agaves from the coming Office 15 in-app marketplace. (There also will be an option for business users to make available privately/on a sideload basis catalogs of thesee Agaves, it seems.) I'm wondering whether the Office 15 marketplace is the same as the rumored SharePoint 15 marketplace, too, given the Agave (and Office Web Apps) commonalities between the platforms.

Speaking of the new Office 15 Marketplace, it sounds like there's also something going on with Office.com -- which is currently primarily a place for Office templates. (Office.com also currently serves as a place to purchase/download Office Web Apps and Office 2010, as well.) With the advent of Office 15, the Office.com site sounds as if it also could become a site for searching for/downloading/buying third-party Office solutions, including Agaves -- similar to the Windows Phone Marketplace site.

Microsoft officials released a private technical preview of Office 15 earlier this year, and said a public beta of the Office 15 client, server apps and services (Office 365 updates) would be out later this summer. A roadmap provided to Microsoft partners recently indicated that Microsoft may be waiting until early 2013 to launch Office 15 and make it generally available. The rumor continues to be that Microsoft will release to manufacturing the final Office 15 client, servers and services before the end of calendar 2012, however.

Rafael Rivera of WithinWindows.com fame posted a short Office 15 promotional video this week that emphasized that portability of Office 15 documents and data, without calling out by name or codename any new technologies that would enable this. Today, Office users can use Office Web Apps, the Webified versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote to share and store Office documents in the cloud.

And in other Office-related news, Microsoft has made available for download Service Pack 2 for Office for Mac 2011. According to a list of fixes included in the service pack, there are some SkyDrive and SharePoint sites improvements in this update, among other patches and fixes.

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