Whaaat?

Microsoft on Monday announced PowerApps, software that aims to make it easier to build or connect mobile business applications using Microsoft Azure’s cloud as the back end. This was a badly kept secret—word of PowerApps leaked last spring and again more recently.

This is another example of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s “mobile-first, cloud-first” directive. PowerApps includes an array of Azure-based services for “employee-facing apps” like expense accounts, human resources management, employee benefits, etc. They will also serve as connective tissue to link new apps to applications that already run in-house.

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In theory, non-techies can use PowerApps to create applications that run on any device (i.e. not just Windows phones) and paint them with a “Microsoft Office-like experience,” according to a blog post by Bill Staples, Microsoft corporate vice president for application platform.

In theory, templates will help developers and novices alike get going fast, and a visual tool will help them automate the workflow without having to write code. Clearly, Microsoft has its eye on both non-techies and skilled in-house developers as potential users.

PowerApps is “basically coding for non coders. Democratizing apps creation for normal peeps. Think Salesforce Lightning,” said Ray Wang, chief executive and founder of Constellation Research.

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