An official at SharePoint applications developer Consejo applauded Microsoft's Open XML document initiative as a benefit for Office application development.
"Their whole Open XML is proving to be very comforting to most developers because in the old days, when it was binary, that not necessarily ideal," said Virgil Pate, development manager at Consejo.
Also, the ribbon UI makes it simpler to modify the user interface, he said. But Microsoft could have done a better job in migrating users to the ribbon, Pate stressed.
Recalling his company's experience with SharePoint, Pate said it is easy to get started developing extensions, but support has been slow, he said.
Pate expressed caution about the Office Live platform, in which Microsoft offers online versions of software. While calling Office Live a great idea, Pate wondered about its security and reliability. "If they ever start to go down or start to have lag time, it's going to hurt them," he said.
Another developer, Marcin Geborik, of developer Computer Plus of Krakow, Poland, cited good experiences in developing for SharePoint but found difficulty in working with Microsoft Office Project Server.
"As a matter of fact, Project Server's API is just not good," Geborik said.
Meanwhile, Microsoft with version 2 of Office Live Small Business this week restructured the offering, providing users with a free domain for the first year as well as a free Web site. After the first year, the domain costs $14.95.
Subscribers get 100 free e-mail accounts each with 2GB to 2.5GB of storage, as well as services such as contact management.
Also, Microsoft with its Unified Communications platform plans to bulk it up with instant messaging capabilities that can find persons linked in a workflow chain.