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Microsoft Office Snaps into back office

Challenge to SAP

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Microsoft has released code for developers and ISVs that continues its strategy of turning Office into the window on customers' back-end business data.

Microsoft has shipped four programs, collectively called Dynamics Snap, that integrate calendar data in the Office 2003 edition of Outlook with business processes in Microsoft's Dynamics AX 3.0 and Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management) 3.0.

According to Microsoft, integration will make it easier to use Outlook calendar data as part of a business process managed by Dynamics or to pull data managed by Dynamics into collaboration, email and documents managed by Office 2003. The goal is not just to make sharing of data easier for end-users but to also simplify the process of integrating the two separate pieces of Microsoft software, creating a broader market and potential business opportunities for partners.

Last year, Microsoft tried to rally partners to the Office 2003 flag by highlighting a $140bn market building applications and services around messaging, collaboration, portal and enterprise content management for the suite.

Microsoft hopes to excite partners about Office 2003 after last year, admitting just 15 per cent of PCs are running the suite, while many customers still remain on Office 2007. The company is trying to attract interest around Office to attain $9.2bn in revenue from the suite by 2010.

One tactic used to increase the appeal of Office is to drive integration between Microsoft's server-side software. Dynamics Snap parallels Mendocino, Microsoft's project with enterprise resource planning (ERP) giant SAP to integrate Office and SAP data and workflows.

Mendocino will potentially make SAP data accessible to Office users, helping boost the value of Office as a tool for use in business analytics and data processing. Mendocino also helps SAP, who needs Windows developers to get away from the historical dead end that is SAP's own proprietary ABAP architecture.

Microsoft said, while both Dynamics Snap and Mendocino provide time and vacation management, Dynamics Snap differed because Microsoft has made code available under its shared source initiative as a further fillip to partners targeting Office 2007, the successor to Office 2003 announced last week.

"Going forward, we are looking at rich collaborative applications that we plan to ship with Microsoft Dynamics and 2007 Microsoft Office System," Microsoft said in a statement. ®

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