Microsoft turns Office into a platform for developers

PowerPoint, revamped
PowerPoint, revamped

At Build 2015, Microsoft announced that it is transforming its popular Office productivity suite into a platform, giving developers access to the over one billion users of its service. Developers will be able to integrate their apps and services into Office. For Office users, this rich and deep integration means that they won't have to leave Office to do the things they need to do to stay productive.

Demoing how some of this integration works, Microsoft talked about a number of third-party apps that can be leveraged into Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and even Sway. These include apps from DocuSign, SAP, PicHit, Uber and Salesforce.



Available as add-ons to Office, business users no longer have to leave the Office suite - whether it's Office 2016 on the desktop, Office Online, or Office on iPad - to perform basic tasks. In a sense, these add-ons automate specific processes and actions.

For example, in Outlook with the Uber add-on, users can set a reminder to call a car for their next appointment. On their iPhone, Outlook will remind a user at a specified time in advance of the appointment to swipe to call an Uber car service. When this happens, Uber will pull in the destination address from Outlook so users won't have to manually input this information.

In Excel, Microsoft showed off how Excel can pull in data from SAP directly into the spreadsheet, whether that's in Excel on the desktop, Excel Online in a browser or Excel on an iPad. The SAP add-on allows users to connect to the on-premise SAP server, pull out the relevant data out and then insert that data into the Excel graph.

Other apps demoed include DocuSign digital signature information inside a Word document and PicHit images for image search for PowerPoint and Sway presentations.

Maintaining better customer relationships

For enterprise users, the integration of Salesforce and LinkedIn data will help sales teams maintain better customer relationships.


Directly within Outlook emails, these add-ons will look at the email addresses to pull in the customer information, their company data and account.

Powered by the Office graph

Microsoft says that all this intelligence is powered by the Office graph to give users access to data and add-ons that are used to drive a set of insights. The transformation of Office into a platform is centered around 3 core concepts, said Microsoft chief Satya Nadella during the keynote.

For Office to be leveraged as a platform, Microsoft is focusing on the user experience to give developers access to the billion Office users out there, going beyond single apps to a semantically rich graph of data to consume and extend their services and providing the capability to add intelligence to apps with Office graph.

These integrations will also show up in Office Delve as cards.

Office Delve