Microsoft Preparing BPOS App Store?
The dedicated cloud-watchers here at The VAR Guy have heard some rumblings. Rumor has it Microsoft’s BPOS (Business Productivity Online Suite) will soon gain a SaaS application store. Our sources include developers and partners that work closely with Microsoft in the SaaS market. If the rumor pans out, here’s what it could mean for software vendors and the channel.
For the uninitiated, BPOS stands for Business Productivity Online Suite, and it consists of hosted/online versions of Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Office LiveMeeting, and Microsoft Office Communications Server. Ironically, Microsoft’s BPOS applications have some feature gaps compared to the on-premises versions.
But that’s exactly why an application store would make sense from Microsoft’s perspective: In order to add exponential value to BPOS, Microsoft could potentially launch an applications marketplace — where third-party developers can add value to Microsoft’s applications.
Also of note: Microsoft Channel Chief Allison Watson has been telling VARs to give BPOS and Windows Azure a try. But some VARs have complained that BPOS doesn’t offer enough partner revenue and profit margin opportunity. A BPOS App Store — where VARs could build and launch their own applications — could potentially solve that issue. Want functionality for BPOS that replicates Exchange 2010’s Social Media Connector? I’d bet there’ll be an app for that…
Microsoft apparently began floating the BPOS applications marketplace in April 2009. At the time, the company was offering software developers and partners an Exchange Online developers guide, according to multiple sources familiar with Microsoft’s plans.
The case for an app marketplace is as strong as ever: no one needs to reminded of the success of Apple’s App Store, and enterprise software vendors like Socialwok are claiming new customers in droves in the almost two weeks since the launch of Google’s App Marketplace. Customers seem to savor the fact that you can customize your software suite, and in only a few clicks.
Will the hypothetical BPOS Application Store come to pass? Microsoft is telling selected partners to stay tuned for more details. And our blog team — including The VAR Guy himself — is poking around and reaching out to Microsoft for comment.