I started with the Connected Applications Framework group about 3 months ago. Since then I've had the opportunity to work with a number of fantastic employees such as Don Box, Clemens Szyperski, and Tony Williams. Tony is our Platform Architect and was recently featured on Channel9. At minute 44 he gives a brief definition of our group and talks about CPAO.
From the video:
We started a group it was called ComApps. We were proposing to basically build a component framework rather than a .NET style framwork so that we could build a product line of new applictions. We thought of it as an advanced development activity but there was a substantive research element to it. So we spent some years working on that, working on components and composition - once you've got your components, how do you put them together to make an appliction? It culminated in some demos to Bill on how you can build a real fairly rich user interface in that scenario. ... We had demoed our framework to Bill and basically said "So how, if at all, do we move this forward?" He asked us to sort of hang on for a month or two while he figured out what to do here. Meanwhile, Charles Simone had been taking some ideas from his Intentional Programming team an touting them around to people saying, "Let's apply these ideas, not to code, which is what IP was about, but to data." Because XML was all the rage. XML is tree structured. Charles's IP was all about transformations on trees. My team's work was about declarative construction of applications and Bill says, "So if I want applications that process trees, because the world is all going XML, can't I take that and that and put them together?" So he asked us to merge and investigate what we could do. ... We did deliver on that. We are delivering a smallish application in Office 12 that is built that way.