Microsoft Corp chairman Bill Gates this week pitched the virtues of Office 2007 and its server-side counterpart Sharepoint 2007 as platforms that can be extended and built upon by developers, speaking at a company conference in Redmond, Washington.
The products, due out in the fourth quarter, are dramatically better as the development platform than any previous release of Office, said Gates, who was introduced with tongue-in-cheek as director of program management for Office, due to his involvement in the project.
Gates talked about how the software will enable developers to more easily plug other applications and web services it Office, so the familiar client apps can be used as the interface to more complex software.
The scenarios we really think we’ve made a breakthrough on includes business intelligence, collaboration, content management, and business process integration, he said. And yet, we’ve done that without having separate tools for each one of those things.
He described applications-level add-ins, which he said means that, as opposed to current versions of Office, you don’t have to simply associate the add-ins with individual documents or template types, you can have the add-in capability at the application.
To support all this, the company unwrapped a community technology preview of Visual Studio Tools for the Microsoft Office, which allows .NET-based development on top of Office.
Because Microsoft is also trying to align itself with the Web 2.0 movement, Sharepoint will also feature blogging and wiki-building built-in, as collaboration tools, he indicated.
Product manager Jay Paulus demonstrated, for example, how to plug in auction-tracking web services from eBay directly into Outlook.