3rd party apps coming to Outlook.com

Microsoft continues to re-examine and bolster its platform company roots, this time by announcing app support for Outlook.com, coming in Spring 2015. Microsoft has been pushing 3rd party development on its Office properties, announcing API support for Office 365 last spring, and extending that with new SDKs for iOS and Android just a couple of weeks ago. Mail apps for Outlook, which work on Exchange Online and Server 2013, Outlook 2013, Outlook Web Access, and OWA for Devices, will soon work on Outlook.com, too, bringing app developers some 400 million potential new users, and all without browser plugins or extensions. The Office Blogs post explains:

Think about it: Whenever a customer reads or composes an email or calendar event, your app could be there, helping them get the job done. If you have a great idea for how our customers should interact with their email or calendar, now is the time to make it happen. Not only are these apps simple to build–they use open web technologies such as HTML and Javascript–but you can start building them today.  To learn how to get started, check out Mail apps for Outlook on MSDN and the Office Dev Center.

For Outlook.com customers, these apps can be used in any browser without plugins or extensions, and will be available wherever you log in.

Perhaps the most telling bits of this news is that Microsoft is continuing to blur the lines between the former Hotmail, now Outlook.com and a part of the Office team, and Office proper and Office 365. With one set of developer tools, can a single set of features across Windows 8/10 Mail, Office, and Outlook.com be far behind?