Microsoft partner says Office 365 app dev model to expand

Newsgator, which builds enterprise social software for SharePoint, says it will be able to do much more with Office 365's next version

External developers will be able to build much more sophisticated applications and tools for Office 365 once Microsoft releases the next upgrade of that cloud-hosted communication and collaboration suite, according to a Microsoft partner.

NewsGator, a company that makes enterprise social software primarily for SharePoint, finds Office 365's current application development platform limited, but is looking forward to its expansion.

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"The current version of Office 365 is very limited with respect to its ability to support third-party applications and software," said NewsGator CEO J.B. Holston in an interview.

However, the Office 365 application development platform will change "fundamentally," he said. ""For the next version, there are a number of things we'll be launching that are really interesting -- value-added services that will fill some interesting gaps around Office 365 out of the box in the social space."

Microsoft declined to comment about what may be in store for Office 365 and its APIs (application programming interfaces) and tools for external developers. However, on Monday, after Holston spoke with IDG News Service, the company announced that it has begun the Technical Preview for the next version of Office, code-named Office 15.

As part of the Technical Preview, hand-picked customers are testing early versions of Office 15 and provide feedback to Microsoft, the company said in the blog post.

"With Office 15, for the first time ever, we will simultaneously update our cloud services, servers, and mobile and PC clients for Office, Office 365, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Project, and Visio," the post reads. A public beta for Office 15 is slated for the summer.

Holston is also very interested in how much the next rev of Office 365 will appeal to large enterprises, because in his view the current version was designed primarily to appeal to small and medium-size businesses. NewsGator focuses on primarily on Global 2000 companies.

Juan Carlos Perez covers search, social media, online advertising, e-commerce, web application development, enterprise cloud collaboration suites and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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