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Microsoft Launches Preview of Office 365's Fluid Framework

Microsoft on Wednesday announced that some Office 365 tenancies with access to early update releases are beginning to receive an "early preview" of its Fluid Framework product.

The preview will let Office 365 end users "create, share and edit Fluid Framework files." They can also collaborate on documents and send instant messages via the Office 365 @mentions feature. It'll also be possible to "insert built-in components," which weren't described by Microsoft.

The Fluid Framework was first introduced at the Microsoft Build developer event in May in a talk by CEO Satya Nadella. It was described back then as a "Web-based platform and componentized document model for shared, interactive experiences" that principally will enhance user collaborations across apps.

The framework takes form as both a user experience and a software development kit for use by developers. It was offered as a public preview back in November for end users, but it was at the private preview stage at that time for developers. Now it's starting to get delivered to some Office 365 subscribers as an early preview. Organizations with Office 365 subscriptions can access the preview if they opted to receive "targeted" Office 365 update releases.

Microsoft is planning a broader rollout of the Fluid Framework to Office 365 tenancies "over the next couple of months," according to the announcement.

The framework is purported to enable user collaborations across applications at an improved scale. It enables co-authoring in Office applications and inking on documents by multiple users. In addition, these collaborations can be boosted by artificial intelligence agents, such as the simultaneous translation of a piece of text into nine different languages, which was demonstrated during Nadella's Build talk.

The Fluid Framework also was described as Microsoft's "new plumbing" for building out collaboration solutions, according to a November Microsoft Ignite talk by Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of Office, SharePoint, OneDrive and Streams. It taps into things like the Microsoft Graph, the SharePoint Framework and Office add-ins. The aim of the Fluid Framework is to provide a common platform for multiperson co-authoring, including the ability to abstract content across applications, according to the talk.

The Fluid Framework was described as an "open platform" housed on GitHub for use by various developers. The software development kit seems to offer somewhat generic tooling for Web applications. For instance, some parts of the framework "will be available really broadly across any sort of web experience," according to a May PCMag.com interview of Rob Howard, a senior director of Office Apps marketing at Microsoft. He further described the framework as reducing the latency for "any kind of web experience that benefits from two people sharing state," per the Q&A.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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