Microsoft pushes developers to build apps for Office 365

Microsoft Executive Vice President Qi Lu had an interesting pitch for developers Thursday: Build applications that use data from Microsoft Office.

Microsoft’s crown jewel for building apps that integrate with Office is its Graph set of APIs, which let developers build applications that know how users work with one another. Lu, speaking at the company’s Build developer conference, announced six new APIs to improve the Microsoft Graph, including one that allows developers to see when a group of users is available to meet.

The company is also pushing developers to build add-ins for Office applications, like Starbucks, which announced Thursday that it’s going to release an Outlook add-in. The add-in will let people easily schedule appointments for nearby Starbucks cafes and send Starbucks gift cards to their co-workers.

On top of all that, Microsoft also announced new Skype for Business mobile and Web SDKs, which let developers embed Skype calls directly within a Web application or device. That’s useful for companies wanting to build applications to connect people with one another through video chat.