Microsoft SharePoint Conference: Courting Developers with Openness, Consistent and Contextual Experience Across Products, Ways to Spread Awareness of Your Apps

Wait: Let’s talk about that openness thing.

Karen Forster

by Karen Forster on 3/31/2014

Share this:

Article Details

Date Revised:

Applies to:
Android, API, O365, Office 365, Samsung, SDK, SharePoint

Openness and Microsoft are becoming increasingly easy to say in the same sentence. That increasingly ordinary conjunction of those two words was underscored at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference this week. Microsoft announced new APIs and Visual Studio tools, new ways to make vast numbers of users aware of (and able to download) your apps, and new ways for developers to build apps that you can integrate across the whole Office 365 (O365) product array (Office, Exchange, SharePoint, Yammer, and Lync). You can learn the details of these announcements by reading Arpan Shah’s blog

But what struck me when I spoke with the O365 director of technical product management, was Shah’s focus on community (which used to be a puzzling and foreign word when I worked at Microsoft in the early 2000s) and openness. As Shah said, “I come back to the notion of community and Office 365. There’s a lot of potential to power great apps. The goal is to be open to imagine and build great solutions. We want to inspire people to build apps for mobile and devices.” And as the video in Shah’s blog emphasizes, that desire extends to apps, “across all mobile devices.”

It’s that word “all” that catches my attention. And in particular, I’m looking at the announcement of the availability of the Android SDK for Office 365 and Windows 8 libraries (, which takes advantage of the new Office 365 APIs, including Files, Lists, Mail, and Calendars.

Microsoft is inviting developers to create apps that span the Android platform and Office 365 and Windows 8. In itself, that’s an interesting bow to supporting the reality of heterogeneous business environments in which users bring their own devices and expect to be able to use them for work, as well as personal pastimes.

What I find more interesting is that supporting “all” devices is a great way to extend the reach of Microsoft technologies. All the more so because this is more than an isolated instance of recent announcements about a competing platform. Last week at the Mobile World Conference in Barcelona, Samsung announced that the company is working with Microsoft to bring Microsoft’s enterprise security and management technologies to the Samsung KNOX platform (see Samsung’s press release Samsung’s enterprise users will be able to take advantage of Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012 R2 Workplace Join capabilities, Windows Intuine, and Windows Azure for cloud printing of Microsoft Office documents. 

These developments seem to indicate that Microsoft is moving in a direction that seems not only logical to me, but mandatory for the company’s future success: I can imagine a business model for Microsoft that has Microsoft software available to run on many platforms and allows all platforms to take advantage of Microsoft’s cloud and enterprise management technologies. In fact I’ve always wondered why this was never the company’s direction anyway.

Although my speculation about Microsoft’s direction and scenarios for ubiquitous Microsoft products, is not directly related to the main thrust of the SharePoint Conference I attended, I think it’s fascinating to see these somewhat minor announcements accumulating and potentially adding up to something much bigger.

Let me know if you think I’m off base.


Topic: Development

Sign in with

Or register