Office 365 joins the IFTTT party

Microsoft seems to be more comfortable in helping its users work with alternative products, which is a smart move

Office 365 joins the IFTTT party
flickr/Dirk Vorderstraße

Microsoft has released Office 365 channels on IFTTT to aid automation between Office 365 and other Internet services and apps you might be working with on Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android.

IFTTT (If This Then That) is an interesting service that creates scripted connections between apps. IFTTT offers a collection of preconfigured recipes that trigger based on criteria you establish.

IFTTT has If recipes and Do recipes. For example, with an If recipe, you might have a condition "if I post a picture on Instagram, then save that picture to Dropbox." A Do recipe lets you create a personalized button to do something like turn your network-connected lights on or off or quickly set your networked thermostat to whatever temperature you like it to be when you get home by hitting the Do button.

With the new support for IFTTT in Office 365, you can set triggers and actions or go with standard recipes. The If recipes work with Kato, Slack, Craigslist, DocSend, Todoist, and others. Here are examples of what available recipes can do:

  • If: If you receive high-priority email, create a new task in Todoist.
  • Do: Send email with your current location. 

In my work, I gravitate to the email-oriented recipes, but there are recipes for OneDrive for Business, Calendar, and Contacts. For example, if you post photos to Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr, you can have those photos archived on OneDrive. Once they're in in OneDrive, you can share those photos with your Office 365 team easily.

Microsoft's reliance on IFTTT's neutral approach to cross-application scripting is smart. It recognizes that some users will want to use non-Microsoft tools, so rather than try to force them to switch, make it easier to have their Microsoft tools and third-party tools, too. After all, some people have good reason to prefer Dropbox to OneDrive, or Slack to Yammer. By giving them IFTTT to integrate those other tools, Microsoft avoids forcing them to choose.

Microsoft has made other moves recently to play better with the rest of the world. For example, Microsoft finally released a new version of Office for Mac (2016) for Office 365 subscribers (stand-alone licenses are coming in September). It’s been a long time coming.

In addition, Microsoft announced integration with open source software Moodle and Open EdX, both learning management systems used by school systems. The integration includes single sign-on to make it easier to work between Moodle and Office 365 services.

This positive acceptance of third parties is a smart, welcome move for Microsoft. Here's hoping for more.