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Microsoft Provides “Elixir” for Outlook

A year after first disclosing its internal “Project Elixir,” Microsoft has begun releasing sample code and documentation so that developers can use it as a pattern to design their own integrated front-end and back-end systems around Outlook 2003.

“Project Elixir uses Microsoft Office 2003 as the development platform and Microsoft Outlook as the familiar user interface to make data in its back-end systems more accessible to the company’s sales force,” a company spokesperson said in an e-mail to ENTmag.com this week.

Internally, Project Elixir delivers data from four company systems -- customer relationship management, customer support, as well as sales history and marketing databases -- from the back-end systems to the Outlook client via Web services.

The move is just another part of Microsoft’s push to transform Office from a group of integrated productivity applications into a “platform” that developers and integrators view as a crucial part of integrated solutions.

Microsoft has made the documentation and sample code, including that for a CRM integration “add-in” for Outlook, available to MSDN subscribers. The company says the sample code is designed to provide “guidance,” not a technology solution, enabling other companies to implement similar systems.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.