Microsoft Reveals PowerApps Service To Boost Business-Based Mobile App Creation

Microsoft on Monday unveiled its PowerApps enterprise service to enable employees, developers and IT professionals to create, connect and share mobile apps specifically for powering their businesses.

The new software, which uses Microsoft's Azure cloud as a back end, allows end users to create personalized apps.

PowerApps is part of the Redmond, Wash.-based company's plan to tap into the rapidly growing mobile app market and bridge the innovation gap in the business apps sector.

"PowerApps will dramatically accelerate how business apps are built, reducing time to solution from weeks or months to minutes and empowering a new category of app creators," said Bill Staples, corporate vice president for the Azure Application Platform at Microsoft, in a statement. "It balances power between IT and business users, arming those closest to business needs with tools and services to not just envision but also implement the solution. It moves what has been for decades a set of scenarios that typically only run on-premises with PCs to being centered in the cloud and delivered mobile-first."

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Staples said PowerApps will address the growing gap between the rapidly growing consumer app market and the business app market. According to market research firm Gartner, the market demand for mobile app development services will grow through 2017 at least five times faster than internal IT organizations' capacity to deliver them.

PowerApps allows employees to quickly create apps that work on any device using a Microsoft Office-like experience, including phones, tablets or desktops running on iOS, Android and Windows.

Employees can also use built-in connections to connect PowerApps to cloud services, and have the option to share PowerApps like they would documents.

Developers and IT professionals have the option to build additional data connections and APIs to any existing business systems. PowerApps also includes Microsoft's Azure App Service for employee-facing apps.

"Microsoft's PowerApps is a quick and easy way for businesses to develop apps and share as many apps on their platform as possible," said Michael Goldstein, president and CEO of LAN Infotech, a Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Microsoft partner.

Other vendors, such as Salesforce and Adobe, have made similar moves in opening opportunities to develop apps for businesses.

Microsoft has not yet released pricing information for PowerApps. The service is currently in a free preview version. The final version, with connections to software-as-a-service applications such as Office 365, will also be free, but IT and developer users should contact Microsoft for pricing information, according to the company.