Office Blossoms as a Developer Platform

Microsoft flexes its Office developer muscle at the Microsoft Office System Developer Conference.

Microsoft is delivering a slew of developer-centric news and technology at its Microsoft Office System Developer Conference; Office developer-centric, that is.

The Microsoft's Office developer conference in San Jose, Calif., officially kicks off Feb. 11 with a keynote address by the outgoing Microsoft chairman. There, Bill Gates will announce a series of new offerings, including the release of Office Live Small Business Winter '08 edition, a Federal Express solution built using Office, new Office Business Application (OBA) sample application kits for SAP and Peoplesoft, version 1.1 of Visual Studio Extensions for Windows SharePoint Services, the release to manufacturing (RTM) of the BizTalk adapter pack, and a new OBA component library for financial services.

Microsoft also plans to announce the winner of a series of all-night Office application development coding contests that will culminate in San Jose, as well as the winner of the OBA of the year.

"Bill is very passionate about the Office platform and is taking this opportunity to keynote despite his plans to leave his daily responsibilities this summer," said Chris Bryant, senior product manager, Office Platform Strategy.

The Office Live Small Business Winter '08 release provides a developer opportunity to service more than 550,000 small businesses, Bryant said. The update of Microsoft Office Live Small Business is a single, free offering with a-la-carte premium add-on services, the company said. The technology is built on Office and Windows Live technologies, with SharePoint at the core and native connections to Office clients.

Meanwhile, at the Office developer conference, David Zanca, senior vice president for e-commerce technology, FedEx Services, will join Gates on stage to announce the new QuickShip application from FedEx.

QuickShip makes Outlook a launch point for creating FedEx shipments, said Charlie Hicks, Director IT, FedEx Integration Services.

With QuickShip, users can go from Outlook contact information to a FedEx shipping label in just a few steps, Hicks said. And the application tracks shipment history and provides an easy access point for FedEx account information, he said.

"It's a customizable service and you can do print jobs direct from Word," Bryant said.