A few weeks ago we made the customer preview available of the new version of Microsoft Office. And one of the many changes that's immediately apparent is the focus that it has on the cloud – and that includes the ability to build cloud applications that integrate with Office, and a marketplace (the Office Store) to make those apps available.
For education customers and partners, this is good news. Really good news. What it will mean is that customers will be able to add custom applications to their installations of Office or SharePoint easily, without having to do lots of fancy customisations themselves. And create a market for education apps for Office…
I think that over the next few months, building up to release, there are going to be people around the world working away on apps that support specific processes in education – whether it's to handle a process such as submitting information, or lookup information, or publish information. Here are some of the simple ideas that occurred to me within two minutes:
Many of these scenarios are actually possible today already in Office and SharePoint. But the ability to have a simple, single-button way of doing these things through an app would make life much easier for staff, students, and potentially parents (oh, imagine a "permission" app, where all the parent does is read a permission form and click a button to say "Yes", instead of the constant flow of paper that seems to flow between schools and parents and back. Somebody please create one, if only to make my parental life easier!)
I believe that we'll see three major sources of Office cloud apps for education customers:
Hopefully, if you're still with me, I've got you interested in the idea – and you want to know where to get more information.
Rather than repeating details from elsewhere, this is where I'm going to send you over to some other places to get the detailed info. The first starting point is the Apps for Office and SharePoint Blog, which has is publishing increasing amounts of information on how to develop and use these apps.
I'd recommend starting on these blog posts: