If you were at Microsoft TechEd this year, you probably noticed that Microsoft is pushing developers to create applications that use Microsoft Office Outlook as the UI in much the same way that Web-based applications use Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) as a UI. I recently spoke with representatives from Avidian Technologies about Prophet 2004, a sales and contact-management application that already takes advantage of Outlook integration. Web-based applications are popular because every Windows-based computer comes with IE, making deployment easy. Most corporate desktops already have Outlook as well though, so Avidian designed Prophet 2004 to use Outlook, not IE, as its primary UI. Prophet 2004 can also be installed by end users without support from IT staff. It can use peer-to-peer data sharing to operate without a central server. Outlook-based applications aren’t yet as popular as Web-based applications, but if products such as Prophet 2004 can deliver on their promise of minimal IT support, I think Microsoft and Avidian are on the right track. You can learn more about Prophet 2004 at http://www.avidian.com.
-- Adam Carhede