Microsoft has unveiled its cloud-for-mobile strategy, releasing a Microsoft Office and Office 365 app suite for the iPad, and announcing an Enterprise Mobility Suite to manage BYOD, identity and rights management, and data security.
New CEO Satya Nadella stepped onstage at a Microsoft press event today to introduce his “innovation agenda,” announcing that everything Microsoft does going forward will be “grounded in ubiquitous computing and ambient intelligence.” For starters, he introduced a cloud-for-mobile strategy to provide greater productivity across devices and experiences for three core customer groups: end users, IT professionals and developers.
(Related: What Nadella brings to Microsoft’s table)
In terms of developers, Nadella and White explained how features of the newly announced Enterprise Mobility Suite enable developers to create richer mobile experiences. “A cloud for everyone on every device,” as he put it.
“Developers are looking for their canvas to innovate, their opportunity to innovate, to complete and build upon other people’s work. They want a very rich surface area for what they want to create.”
The Enterprise Mobility Suite, an access portal governing various pieces of enterprise infrastructure development including BYOD, identity and rights management, and data protection, is seen by Microsoft as a rich set of developer extensions that also give IT professionals control over an enterprise experience.
Nadella heralded components of the cloud-based suite such as the Windows Azure Active Directory, a single sign-in across applications and devices, as well as the integration of Office 365 as tools for developers to manage the creation and elastic growth of their applications.
“When it comes to developers, in the DocuSign demo the key salient point is that the most important developer API we have is Office 365,” Nadella explained. “All user data starting with Azure Active Directory, single sign-in, the OneNote, OneDrive and SharePoint APIs, every aspect is getting exposed in a modern way across all devices.”
As of 2 p.m. EST today, Office for iPad went live in the App Store, and Nadella and Office division product manager Julia White stressed the tablet-optimized capabilities of Word, Excel and PowerPoint in particular. Office for iPad runs on a “freemium” business model, available to download and use for free, while Office 365 subscribers can unlock the suite’s full capabilities.
Each of the apps is designed with touch-friendly capabilities and a natural feel for the iPad. White demonstrated specific features of each app in turn, including collaborative capabilities, OneDrive backup, and iPad-unique data visualization recommendations for Excel, as well as a touch-and-hold laser pointer and annotations for PowerPoint.
Nadella closed by saying that today’s announcement is but one aspect of the company’s overall strategy. Over the next month, starting with Microsoft’s BUILD conference next week, he promised to reveal a “massive agenda” for Windows as well as strides in data innovation.