(Update 1:41pm PST: See screenshots and video here!)

Billg-ZancaI'm at the Office Developers Conference 2008 this week, and BillG is  on stage doing Q&A, having just finished the keynote.  A number of the highlights involved FedEx. 

In fact, FedEx SVP David Zanca joined BillG on stage and announced the public launch of FedEx QuickShip.  FedEx QuickShip is an easy way to use FedEx tools and services from within Office.  Very cool!  Jon Box and I have been working with FedEx behind the scenes on FedEx QuickShip for a while now, so it's very exciting to see it finally get officially "born"! 

Maybe even cooler is what's to come: Zanca also showed how FedEx is thinking very broadly about using Microsoft Office as a platform for accessing and interacting with FedEx shipping and printing services.  Among other things, he showed:

  • Printing from Word 2007 directly to Kinkos -- complete with the ability to select finishing options like bindings (color, paper size), to see visualizations of the document as options are selected and deselected, and to see how the prices change in context. 
  • Sharepoint site template that can give you something like a "MyFedEx" -- but for your own sharepoint site.  Among other things, it leverages Virtual Earth to show where your package is and where it's been.

For customers, it's a way to get access to the power of FedEx -- and do it directly from within the environments where they do their work.   For FedEx, it's a new way to reach customers, and to differentiate FedEx, by serving customers in ways that help people work better.

Beyond Office at the client level (Outlook, Word) and Office at the server level (Sharepoint), the Office Live team also showed how FedEx services can be brought into people's Office Live services environments. 

Taken together, what FedEx showed is a great example of the kinds of differentiating user experiences that can be created across the full Office platform.  It's also a great example of Microsoft's Software + Services vision.  While S+S is a term that Microsoft tends to use, the concept is something we're seeing get a lot of traction in the industry today.  For example, Rob Carter recently said:

“The Internet doesn’t mean a customer destination like a Web site—it means connections.  For FedEx, that means finding more ways to integrate its offerings into what people are doing in work and life.”

It's been a lot of fun for Jon Box and I to work with the FedEx team on all of this!

One more bit of fun... at the end of the Zanca's demo, a FedEx courier came up on stage and delivered a Guitar Hero III Les Paul model guitar to BillG!  We're going to give that guitar -- autographed by BillG and Zanca -- away to someone at ODC near the end of the conference!  If you're at the ODC, come check it out at the FedEx ODC event booth! (Update: See the guitar here!)

And if you do, don't forget to stop by the Microsoft booth next door and say "Hi" -- Jon and I will be there off and on throughout the conference.