Satya Nadella keeps insisting that Microsoft is no longer a company that will try and force people to use Windows devices, but will make its software and cloud services available to all people using all devices.
At Microsoft’s big customer conference going on in Barcelona this week, TechEd Europe, the company announced some news that makes good on that promise.
Microsoft is opening up its cloud version of Office, Office 365, to iOS and Android developers.
Developers can now write Android/iOS apps that tap into Office 365’s calendar, email, files, and contacts. And Microsoft promised that this Office 365 development tool will soon support Apple’s brand-new development language, Swift.
One partner that has already signed on is IFTTT (which stands for “if this then that”), a popular website that lets you send commands to stitch together a bunch of online services. For instance, you can program it to text you every time you get an email from your boss, or to automatically invite new contacts to join you on LinkedIn.
One of the reasons that Microsoft Office grew so popular for businesses was because businesses could write special apps for it. They could make custom expense reports in Excel, custom order forms in Word, and so on.
The same thing is already happening with Office 365, Microsoft says. So far, 3.4 million developers have written custom apps for the online version of Office 365 or SharePoint (Microsoft’s file-sharing app). And Microsoft is showcasing 1,200 of these apps in a special Office 355 app store.
For instance, in January, PayPal published an invoicing app for Excel but it wasn’t a mobile app. It currently requires you to be using a browser or the desktop version of Excel.
Microsoft knows if it wants its cloud services like Office 365 to become popular, it’s got to make them available on Android and iPad.
And Nadella is not dragging his feet about it.