Determined to get partners on board to help transform Office 2007 from a productivity suite to a platform for business applications, Microsoft Tuesday unveiled a program to help partners add functionality to the suite by creating Office Business Applications, or OBAs.
OBAs add business processes and intelligence to Office applications such as Excel and Outlook. OBAs are designed to connect functionality from back-end applications such as Microsoft SQL Server and the Microsoft Dynamics suite to front-end desktop applications that business users are familiar with and use often.
Microsoft said it will invest as much as US$10 million in the OBA OnRamp Program, which includes technical resources, training and sales and marketing assistance to partners, said Daz Wilkin, a program manager for Microsoft's platform strategy group. Microsoft is unveiling the program at its Worldwide Partner Conference during a keynote by Chris Capossela, a corporate vice president in the Microsoft Business Division. The conference is being held through Thursday in Denver.
The program includes an OBA Quickstart Kit to be distributed to partner attendees. The kit will include case studies and demos that will help partners get up to speed on what OBAs are and how to build them, Wilkin said.
Microsoft partners also can sell the OBAs they develop on a site called OBA Central as part of the program. To drive traffic to the site and give partners a sales boost, Microsoft is purchasing ad words for its own search engine, Windows Live Search, that will link searches to those partners' OBAs, Wilkin said.
Microsoft already has built several reference applications that can help partners and developers build specific OBAs. More information about the applications can be found on the OBA portal on the Microsoft Developer Network.