Microsoft just launched PowerApps, a highly anticipated productivity tool that will let businesses build custom apps for mobile devices without needing to write code.
The company has been quietly working on the new offering all year, even calling the project a potential “Billion dollar business” in a job posting spotted by ZDNet back in April.
The idea is to solve what Microsoft calls the “innovation gap” between consumer apps, which are in their heyday, and business apps, which the company says have yet to fully take advantage of the proliferation of mobile devices.
PowerApps offers an approachable “Microsoft Office-like experience” that lets employees who don’t know how to code build custom apps, just like PowerPoint lets them design presentations. Businesses who have been testing the service have used it to build everything from recruiting apps to customer management tools for bankers, according to a Monday blog post from Microsoft.
Once an app is created, it can be shared through email and installed on any iOS, Android or Windows device. The service is free while it’s in preview right now, but will one day charge per-user, per-month subscription fees.
“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,” Microsoft corporate vice president Bill Staples wrote in the blog post announcing the tool. “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.”