Microsoft announces SaaS developer pack for Outlook

Outlook + Services will provide blueprints to make connected Outlook add-ins easier to make and deploy.

Microsoft has launched its first tool to support its latest software as a service (SaaS) efforts to supplement desktop applications by connecting them to online sites and systems.

The Outlook + Services Reference Bits pack simplifies development of add-ins for Outlook that work with web services, combining information from your calendar, contacts or email with online services or exposing that information as a web service that tools and applications can access.

Add-ins won't be restricted to working with Microsoft's own web services; they can access information and publish to third party systems and web services, connecting Outlook to websites or in-house tools. Instead of creating an appointment by hand for a flight, you could install an Outlook plug-in from British Airways or Virgin that would put the details of any flights you book into your calendar automatically and update them if anything changes. A weather plug-in could give you the forecast for the location of a meeting or contact, or you could list your planned trips in a Facebook application directly from Outlook rather than having to copy them into another online service.

Developers can already create such services using Microsoft's Visual Studio Tools for Office but it can be a complex process. Available immediately, Outlook + Services includes a framework with source code that can be viewed and re-used, tools that plug into Visual Studio Tools for Office and best practices on how to build add-ins and connect them to services.

"With the existing development tools for Office you have to figure what code you need to write, how to plug that in to services; we provide a framework abstracting this and it just makes life for the developer a whole lot easier," said Soma Somasegar, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Developer Division.

Microsoft will also make Visual Studio Tools for Office more widely available. It is currently a separate option, but will be included in the Visual Studio 2008 release, opening up Office add-on development tools to many more developers at no extra cost.

Outlook + Services is the first of a series of shared source Software + Services 'booster packs' to help third-party developers create connected services for desktop applications. Microsoft's SaaS strategy is intended to deliver desktop-like software that works well on a regular standalone PC, but is better when you're online, in an attempt to keep people using rich desktop tools rather than moving to browser-based competitors like Google Apps.

Microsoft also confirmed that both Visual Studio 2008 and version 3.5 of the .NET Framework will be available to developers at the end of November, just in time to meet Microsoft's deadline of shipping in 2007 - although the official launch won't be until February 2008.

Featured Resources

How to choose an AI vendor

Five key things to look for in an AI vendor

Download now

The UK 2020 Databerg report

Cloud adoption trends in the UK and recommendations for cloud migration

Download now

2021 state of email security report: Ransomware on the rise

Securing the enterprise in the COVID world

Download now

The impact of AWS in the UK

How AWS is powering Britain's fastest-growing companies

Download now

Most Popular

How to find RAM speed, size and type
Laptops

How to find RAM speed, size and type

16 Jun 2021
Q&A: Enabling transformation
Sponsored

Q&A: Enabling transformation

10 Jun 2021
Millions of Volkswagen customers affected by data breach
data breaches

Millions of Volkswagen customers affected by data breach

14 Jun 2021