DocuSign e-signing to arrive on Office 365

DocuSign says it will bring its eSignature technology to Microsoft's Office 365 as an Office app.

DocuSign will bring its eSignature electronic signature apps to Office 365, a move that's probably as important for Microsoft as it is for users. The eSignature technology will appear in the Office 365 Office Store in early March, fleshing out an app store that's still woefully short of useful plugins.

As anyone who's negotiated contract proceedings via fax already knows, the process of receiving a contract, signing it, scanning or faxing it, and then repeating the process multiple times virtually cries out for an electronic solution. Historically, the process of appending an e-signature was attached to Adobe PDF files, as they were trusted to remain unchanged. Then Microsoft added support for e-signatures in Office 2010. It's been a trusted seal that's "broken" if content is altered after a signature is applied.

DocuSign uses a similar approach, with a laundry list of security protections. Now, however, customers who already use Office 365 can add support for the e-signature technology from their consoles. Support for Outlook, Word, SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server 2013 has been included, DocuSign said. DocuSign also adopted Windows Azure Active Directory to provide single sign-on capabilities with Office 365 credentials.

DocuSign will show off (and most likely launch) the new apps at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, which runs from March 3 through March 6. More details can be found on its website, DocuSign said.

Microsoft's own Office Store has been relatively bereft of its own apps, either indicating that Microsoft itself has left no stone unturned, or that developers haven't seen a need to join the Office app store party. Developers who've written for the platform have said they haven't seen the returns they were hoping for, and the relatively low number of reviews attached to most apps seems to support that.

On the other hand, simply publishing an app like DocuSign's eSignature to the Office Store can't help but encourage more customers to visit. DocuSign's customer base includes companies from American Airlines to Costco to Monsanto. In this case, DocuSign may have more to offer Microsoft than the other way round.

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