Q&A: Kurt DelBene, senior vice president of the Office Business Productivity Group at Microsoft, discusses what is new in the public beta and what developers can expect from the upcoming release of Office 2010 and related products.
Earlier this year Microsoft introduced the technical preview program for Microsoft Office 2010, the next version of Microsoft Office and related products, which are designed to deliver the best productivity experience across the PC, phone and browser; help people work better together; and give them new capabilities to bring their ideas to life with text, video and images.
Following the successful technical preview program, today at the Microsoft Professional Developers Conference (PDC) Microsoft is unveiling the public beta of Office 2010, SharePoint Server 2010, Project 2010, Visio 2010, Office Web Apps for businesses and Office Mobile 2010.
PressPass spoke with Kurt DelBene, senior vice president of the Office Business Productivity Group at Microsoft, who announced the Office news in his keynote address at PDC, to ask him about the new release and what it means for the developer community.
PressPass: Can you tell us more details about what you are announcing today?
DelBene: We’re excited to announce the public beta of the 2010 versions of Office, SharePoint Server, Visio, Project and Office Web Apps for business customers. Office Mobile 2010 has also reached the beta milestone. Starting today people can download the beta products by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/2010.
We are hoping to have millions of people download and test the products, as we depend on that feedback to shape the final product. To get the broadest range of feedback we are making this beta available in seven languages — English, Spanish, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Russian, French and German — more than any other Office beta program in the past.
Office Mobile 2010 is also now available in beta, making the Office experience across the PC, phone and browser a reality. Office Mobile 2010 includes mobile versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and new SharePoint Workspace Mobile 2010, and is available worldwide in Windows Marketplace for Mobile for Windows Mobile 6.5 phones.
We’re also announcing several new features in Office 2010. One key new offering is the Outlook Social Connector, which brings communications history, business collaboration and social network feeds directly into Outlook, with support for Windows Live and SharePoint Server. For developers, we’re also releasing the Outlook Social Connector SDK to help them easily build connectors to third-party social networks, and we’re pleased to announce today that professional network LinkedIn will be the first site to provide a connector for Outlook Social Connector early next year.
Finally, building on the strength and success of its ongoing partnership with SAP, Microsoft also announced plans to deliver a new product named Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP. With tens of thousands of joint customers around the world, bringing SAP applications and business processes together with Microsoft SharePoint creates the opportunity to release a new wave of productivity gains for end users. Duet Enterprise for Microsoft SharePoint and SAP will provide customers and partners with the opportunity to compose solutions based upon Microsoft SharePoint 2010 and SAP, enable additional interoperability, and blend the worlds of process and collaboration. The solution is planned to be released in the second half of 2010.
PressPass: Tell us a bit more about Outlook Social Connector. What is it?
DelBene: The Outlook Social Connector brings business and social networking to the work force. People already spend a large portion of their day in Outlook, with most people receiving over 93 e-mail messages per day. Outlook Social Connector lets them connect with people faster, without switching programs or changing their routine.
Essentially, with this new capability, people can collaborate and work better together. The Outlook experience customers are familiar with and use on a daily basis becomes the hub of their social networking experience. Outlook Social Connector brings their communications history, business and social networking feeds directly into Outlook to help them keep track of conversations and stay up to date with co-workers, friends and family.
The Outlook Social Connector will enable both business and social networking by integrating with SharePoint 2010 at beta and Windows Live at launch. For developers starting today, the Outlook Social Connector SDK is also available for download on MSDN. The SDK can be used to easily build connectors to third-party social networks.
PressPass: What benefits do Office and SharePoint Server 2010 offer your developers and partners?
DelBene: The SharePoint services opportunity alone for our developers and partners stands today at $5.6 billion, and is expected to grow to $6.1 billion in 2011. With more than 17,000 SharePoint customers and over 100 million licenses sold, SharePoint developers are in high demand. Hundreds of thousands of developers have worked with SharePoint in the past year, and we expect this number will grow to over 1 million in the next few years.
SharePoint Server 2010 and Office 2010 provide additional features that help developers build an array of Office and SharePoint content and collaboration applications faster. Developers have the choice and flexibility to write code for deployment on-premises or with SharePoint Online.
For instance, integration with Visual Studio 2010 gives developers the best experience with the tools they are familiar with today. It also includes rich APIs and support for Open XML, Silverlight, REST and LINQ, which help developers build applications quickly on the SharePoint and Office platform. Developers can use the Business Connectivity Services to connect read/write capabilities to Web services in SharePoint and Office or line-of-business data, and the new Sandbox solutions help developers write and safely deploy custom applications on-premises and in the cloud.
PressPass: What’s new in Project 2010 and Visio 2010?
DelBene: With Visio 2010, we focused on three key things. First is ease of use with Visio 2010 incorporating the Office Fluent user interface and design philosophy to help people complete tasks and create better-looking diagrams with greater efficiency. Second is Visio Services, which lets end users publish dynamic, data-driven Visio diagrams to SharePoint for broad distribution to anyone with a Web browser. And third is business process management enhancements, including creating SharePoint workflows, to build on the strength of Visio in this area.
Microsoft Project 2010 is the most significant release of the product in over a decade. For this version we’re making investments designed to help individuals, teams and organizations prioritize investments, better manage resources and gain control across all types of work. Project 2010 delivers new capabilities including the use of the familiar Ribbon UI that was part of the 2007 Microsoft Office system release. We’ve combined the existing offerings in project and portfolio management into a single server to provide end-to-end capabilities — a consistent Web interface, common data store, and centralized administration. With Project being built on SharePoint, we’ve brought together the leading project and portfolio management software with the powerful SharePoint business collaboration platform.
PressPass: What is next for these products?
DelBene: Today is a key milestone for Microsoft as we bring the next version of Office and related products to a broad audience. We’re thrilled to get these beta releases into the hands of customers and partners; they can start experiencing the products today by visiting http://www.microsoft.com/2010. We are looking forward to incorporating customer feedback from the beta to get these products finalized in the first half of next year.