June 12, 2006 8:39 AM PDT

Microsoft pretties Office for business apps

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June 11, 2006
BOSTON--Microsoft on Monday detailed a plan to make its Office applications a common entry point into back-end business applications from other vendors.

The initiative, called Office Business Applications, is meant to encourage third-party application providers to write code that will integrate closely with Microsoft Office applications. The company discussed the effort at its TechEd customer conference here.

Microsoft and SAP have a joint development project, called Duet, which makes Office the access point to SAP data and business process. For example, a person could send out an offer letter for employment from Word and draw information from a specialized human resources application.

With Office Business Applications, Microsoft intends to get more software companies and corporate developers to do similar work, executives said.

"Office Business Applications are a new breed of applications we think with (Office System) 2007 people will be able to build in earnest," said Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of Microsoft's information worker product management group.

Office System 2007, which is due early next year, will include a set of common services which will have published technical interfaces.

Those services include work flow, search, a business data catalog, user interface components, security and the Office Open XML file formats.

Microsoft also detailed a toolkit called Lobi (line-of-business interoperability) for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, which is designed to simplify the building of transactional business applications with Office and the SharePoint portal server. A technical preview will be available at the end of 2006 and generally available next year, executives said.

"The whole goal of Lobi is to deliver line-of-business (application) data and business processes right into the Office clients," Capossela said.

Separately, the software giant said enterprise resource planning application suite Microsoft Dynamics AX 4.0 has been released to manufacturing, which means that the product will be available soon.

Company executives said the updated application suite is integrated with Microsoft's SharePoint portal server and the reporting services in SQL Server 2005. The supply chain application can also collect and monitor RFID information.

Over time, Microsoft intends to create closer integration with Office applications, such as Outlook, executives said.

"We think this will go a long way to boosting up the percentage of people (who) actually use the system to above 15 percent, as it is now," said James Utzschneider, general manager for Microsoft Dynamics marketing.

Other planned enhancements include the ability to use Visual Studio to integrate Microsoft Dynamics with other applications using Web services protocols, executives said.

See more CNET content tagged:
Microsoft SharePoint Portal Server, portal server, Microsoft Office, business process, Human Resources

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Musical Chairs!
While "Microsoft and SAP have a joint development project, called Duet, which makes Office the access point to SAP data and business process. For example, a person could send out an offer letter for employment from Word and draw information from a specialized human resources application.

With Office Business Applications, Microsoft intends to get more software companies and corporate developers to do similar work...."; this collaboration with SAP can certainly be seen as reminiscent to "dancing the musical chairs" as "On May 11, 2006, IBM announced two new solutions designed to help organizations simplify integration with SAPĀ®: IBM Lotus Notes Access for SAP, and IBM Lotus Workplace for SAP Software. Significant offerings in themselves, theyre also notable as the first two products to emerge from IBMs Project Harmony initiative  which, as the name suggests, is all about helping disparate enterprise applications make beautiful music together.

In a nutshell, Project Harmony is focused on helping customers get more value from their existing application investments, by providing an SOA front end that simplifies integration between those investments, says Larry Bowden, Vice President, IBM Workplace Composite Products. The benefits of "Project Harmony" can be realized now as the IBM solutions work with a customer's existing levels of SAP and other applications without requiring upgrades.... 

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www-306.ibm.com/software/swnews/swnews.nsf/n/jmme6q5jgb?OpenDocument&#38;Site=lotus" target="_newWindow">http://www-306.ibm.com/software/swnews/swnews.nsf/n/jmme6q5jgb?OpenDocument&#38;Site=lotus</a>

Which companies get the market's nod for Front Office applications as "a common entry point into back-end business applications" is left to be seen.
Posted by Captain_Spock (894 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Run Away! Run Away!
Get in bed with Microsoft and prepared to be screwed in the worst
possible way. Stop the insanity and don't buy this junk! Anyone
whose job is not dependent on it will tell you that Sharepoint is the
biggest dog to come down the block since Bob.
Posted by ppgreat (1128 comments )
Reply Link Flag
My job is not dependent on it
and I'll tell you your full of crap. Sharepoint has its good points and its bad points, just like the offerings from every other vendor. In my case, the cost was not worth it; your mileage may vary.
Your ignorance, however, should lead to a predictable end; Yes, I will take fries with that.
Posted by catch23 (436 comments )
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Big Whoopee Doo
awwww..how pretty...it's a cute monopolistic office.
Posted by microsoft slayer (174 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Making OpenOffice.org a doorway
With all of Microsoft's focus on Office "Live" and software subscription to compete with the free OpenOffice.org, it is totally missing the reason why Google is throwing hundreds of millions of dollars at OpenOffice.org.

Google looks at OpenOffice.org as the next level browser, and wants to sell the services that OpenOffice.org accesses: text search, storage, image search, storage, etc.

Microsoft is so focussed on killing the free product, that they are totally missing the revenue model behind it.
Posted by Maccess (610 comments )
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