Microsoft announced today that it’s opening its Office apps to integrate with a slew of other existing cloud services, according to The Verge, further affirming its commitment to meeting customers where they live, as well as where they work.
While the move might sound like a concession on Microsoft’s part that other apps can better accomplish what Microsoft itself can’t, it’s also the company’s latest maneuver in a shrewd campaign to solidify the position of its legacy software in today’s marketplace. Instead of continuing to target large-volume corporate clients, Microsoft is shifting positions, going instead for individuals who rely on innovative workflow apps–and were leaving Microsoft products behind.
The move by Microsoft to ingratiate Office products with the company’s cloud rivals could be part of a larger meta-campaign to organize data from all of these other apps under a single, Microsoft-branded umbrella. Following Microsoft’s purchase of email app Acompli, Fast Company theorized that the company might pair that with data from Sunrise, the calendar app Microsoft is rumored to have acquired (according to TechCrunch, that is) into a fully synergized master list of events, appointments, and tasks.
Under a scheme like this one, these apps–both of which integrate data from rival cloud services–would become pipelines for data, which Microsoft could then mix and match at will. As Fast Company wrote last week, “What apps such as Acompli and Sunrise can do is let the company reach across cloud services with its own intelligence, essentially becoming the mega-service that sits on top.”
The move to integrate into rival cloud services follows Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s hardcore reinvestment in Microsoft productivity software as the future of the company. Gone are the days of Windows phones and tablets showing a glossy future, one that never surfaced, as Windows devices couldn’t take a big enough bite out of Apple’s and Google’s devices to gain momentum. Instead, by making Office more indispensable through the release of apps on iOS and Android with free features, Nadella is entrenching Office where people are working–not forcing them to work on Microsoft-branded products.
Nadella’s timing is critical as scrappy new tools come out as Chrome extensions more often than as dedicated Windows programs. Windows 10 has to blow users away and provide services they actually want. For instance, if Microsoft’s planned new Spartan browser can’t steal away Chrome users, for instance, Microsoft will be back under the thumb of Google’s Chrome browser–a position it sorely wants to wriggle out of.
This cloud integration could be the boat that Microsoft finally catches after missing those for browsers, gaming, and global messaging. It might not return Microsoft to an era of software dominance akin to the mid-’90s, but it’ll at least make Office relevant and essential in the event that Microsoft uses it as a keystone in its new productivity economy–or as a crutch if Windows 10 doesn’t work out.
[via The Verge]