TECH ED - LOBi makes Office application front end

Microsoft unveiled technology for viewing back-end data in Office.

Microsoft Monday unveiled a technology that will let business customers see information from all of their enterprise applications via Microsoft's portal software, Office SharePoint Server.

Line of Business Interoperability for Office SharePoint Server, or LOBi, will deliver data and processes from a range of applications right into Office client applications, said Chris Capossela, corporate vice president of Office marketing for Microsoft. He unveiled the technology in a session at the Tech Ed conference in Boston.

Microsoft will offer a preview of LOBi before the end of the year, with general availability scheduled for next year.

LOBi is just one technology that will be offered under the umbrella of a strategy called Office Business Applications.

"Companies that want to front end all of their applications in Office can do so," said Chris Caren, general manager of Office at Microsoft.

This larger plan is similar to a technology project called Duet -- formerly code-named Project Mendocino -- that Microsoft has developed with SAP. Duet will allow workers to access data and processes from SAP's business applications through Office.

Office Business Applications is one part of Microsoft's plan to make the next version of Office, Office 2007, a comprehensive software suite not only for office productivity, but also business intelligence, content management and worker collaboration. Microsoft believes many businesses are already familiar with using the Office interface during their daily routine, which makes it a logical choice for encompassing all of the tools business workers need to their jobs and collaborate with colleagues, Capossela said.

Office 2007 is scheduled for general release in January 2007.

Fatima Corona, a software development engineer with Samsung Information Systems, creates software to connect Microsoft applications with printers. After seeing details of LOBi and other new technologies Microsoft plans for Office, she said her team will need to add them to the software it builds. "We'll have to account for changes in their suite," Corona said.

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