How Microsoft is opening Office's brains to apps to make productivity even smarter

Everyone was up in arms when Google rejiggered its privacy policies to allow its various services to talk to each other, but now Microsoft's taking a page from the same playbook to bring more intelligence to its various Office products--and allow third-party developers to tap into your data to create seamless experiences inside of Office products.

"We are moving from Office for us, to Office with others," CEO Satya Nadella declared during Microsoft's Build keynote on Wednesday.

Now, third-party plugins are nothing new to Office--witness the (somewhat neglected and barren) Office app store. But Microsoft's rolling out a new unified API that allows third-party apps to pull data from all the various Microsoft services you use, from Calendar to messages. That should make it much easier for the company to create seamless, helpful experiences for end users.

Microsoft showed off some examples onstage. LinkedIn and Salesforce apps automatically displayed information about the respective people and companies being conversed with in Outlook, scraping names from a message's to and from lines, then augmenting it with data pulled from the company's own servers. An Uber app integrates with your Calendar, and then automatically sends you a reminder on your phone to schedule a pickup shortly before the meeting starts--with the destination already plugged in from your data.

Finally, a PicHit.me plugin was shown that makes it easy to add high-quality pictures to your Office products. The PicHit.me integration should go live in Microsoft's Sway shortly, and these intelligent app integrations should hit the other Office apps--Word, PowerPoint, etc.--in the coming months.

The new API and a behind-the-scenes Office Graph will allow developers to dive into your far-fling Microsoft data, from Calendar entries to OneDrive files, and also allow apps to share data back to those Microsoft services.

It sounds kind of scary on the surface, but Nadella drove home that this is all permission driven. Apps won't be able to see anything you don't want them to see. And hey, this is very similar to what Google already does with Google Now--witness the 70 new app integrations announced for that service this very morning.

If it works as advertised, this new third-party extensibility could be a powerful capability for Microsoft indeed--and one far more powerful than the ho-hum Office Web Apps available thus far.

Nadella also announced a new Web SDK for Skype, which will allow developers to embed Skype messages and video chat into their apps. The sharing goes both ways, it seems.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags applicationsappsWindowsLinkedInsoftwareAPIsmicrosoft officeoperating systemsprivacyGoogleMicrosoftsecurity

More about GoogleindeedMicrosoftSkypeUber

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by Brad Chacos

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    IDG Live Webinar:The right collaboration strategy will help your business take flight

    Speakers - Mike Harris, Engineering Services Manager, Jetstar - Christopher Johnson, IT Director APAC, 20th Century Fox - Brent Maxwell, Director of Information Systems, THE ICONIC - IDG MC/Moderator Anthony Caruana

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place