Channel Insider content and product recommendations are editorially independent. We may make money when you click on links to our partners. Learn More.

At its TechEd conference in San Diego, Microsoft on Monday released the technical beta of its Microsoft Office Information Bridge Framework, which will allow the company to form stronger ties between its Microsoft CRM application suite and the Office suite, company officials said.

The Office integration framework will allow Microsoft Corp. to develop deeper levels of integration with Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003 applications beyond the current Outlook integration that Microsoft CRM—and most other CRM applications—boast today.

One possibility would be the ability to access customer account information by taking that customer’s name into a Word file. The information would pop up much in the same way that a help screen pops up in Word today, according to Holly Holt, CRM product manager at Microsoft.

Click here to read more about the bridging tool, including plans for Version 2.

The Office Information Bridge Framework includes a client-side component that interprets XML to provide a user interface and user actions; a server-side component that enables Web services to expose the data, views and actions in line-of-business applications; and the Metadata Designer, a plug-in for the Microsoft Visual Studio .Net development system that creates and manages solution metadata.

The IBF is expected to be used more by third-party ISVs and Microsoft CRM partners than by Microsoft’s CRM customers, Holt said, though she said customers also will be able to take advantage of it if they choose.

“We have pretty deep Office knowledge in our team,” Holt said. “We can do the heavy lifting for the customers.”

Check out’s Developer & Web Services Center at for the latest news, reviews and analysis in programming environments and developer tools.

Be sure to add our developer and Web services news feed to your RSS newsreader or My Yahoo page