With Office 365’s rapid update cycle, it’s often a challenge to keep abreast of changes to each technology. Here’s my take on the coolest and most important new features in Office 365 released in June and July of this year, as well as a few notable features that are coming soon.
Here now: Office 365 Web Experience Changes
If you spend much time using the Office 365 web apps, you’ll know by now that the team have implemented some really great new usability enhancements across the board.
Sick of inconsistent notification popup styles and behaviours between apps? Fixed. Notification pane.
Sick of not being able to, or not knowing how to, use a new feature? Fixed. Help pane.
Sick of Skype for Business integration well…not working at all? That’s fixed too. Skype for Business pane.
Check out this great video from Microsoft demonstrating these new usability improvements:
Here now: Better Admin Communications
Communications to administrators have traditionally been a little light-on as far as Office 365 is concerned. Microsoft have listened, and have rolled out a swathe of new communications to administrators to help them keep on top the service’s health and status. Check out the list here.
Coming Soon to Skype for Business: Skype Meeting Broadcast
Skype Meeting Broadcast is everything Skype for Businesss/Lync/OCS/Live Communicator/WinPopup should’ve been. This exciting new feature turns your Skype for Business client and implementation into a full fledged meeting hosting system. Running a small meeting with one presenter and a couple of attendees? No worries. Running a large meeting with five presenters in five different locations with a few thousand attendees? No worries. Skype Meeting Broadcast makes this possible. Check out this great demo video from Microsoft Office Mechanics:
Enterprise customers can sign up for the Skype Meeting Broadcast demo here.
Coming Soon to Skype for Business: Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling
Remember that old dusty wall with precariously cabled twisted pair with *DO NOT TOUCH* plastered across it, connected to a few nondescript grey boxes with a couple of kilos of lead acid batteries underneath? Yeah, the PBX. To the cloud with it! Microsoft have been whispering about the “Cloud PBX” for some time now, and U.S. customers now have the option to preview it. Put simply, Microsoft will host your phone lines for you (if you want), and will point these lines directly at Skype for Business clients. Say goodbye to mobile numbers, with Cloud PBX you’ll be able to dial in and out from a office number from the comfort of anywhere you have an internet connection.
Here now in Skype for Business: Windows Phone client
If you’re a Windows Phone user, you can now upgrade from Lync to Skype for Business. Microsoft have proudly spoken of the new features and enhancements, so be sure to check it out.
Here now: Office 2016 Preview (Update 2)
Office 2013 looking a bit old and tattered to you? Why not give Office 2016 a go? This next instalment of the Microsoft Office suite is in public preview, and the latest update is the most stable yet. The new clients take advantage of Office 365’s new features such as Groups and some great new charts for the visual learners among us.
Here now: Office 2016 for Mac
This is the big one! Are you a Mac user? Do you have Mac users in the office? Office 2011 was a little dated, to put it politely. Never fear, Office 2016 is here! This is a massive update to the suite that brings Mac OS’s productivity capabilities right in line with Windows’. It looks and operates similarly to the suite’s Windows equivalent, so if you’re thinking of jumping ship or use different platforms at home and work, you’ll adapt to the suite in no time at all. The Office 2016 for Mac suite includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote.
Here now: Compliance Search
If compliance and DLP is your thing, the wait is over. Office 365 has finally consolidated all your favourite compliance tools into one, aptly named, Compliance Center. With no limit on the number of mailboxes and/or documents to be searched, advanced query logic, and fine-grained permission control on search results, the Compliance Center may be just what your compliance team needs.
How to change your release cycle
Want to try some of these features in advance? Thomas Duryea recommends that organisations assign one or more users to the Office 365 First Release program. This will ensure that new features can be tested, evaluated, and communicated prior to their arrival for all users.
Keep up with the news
If you’re an Office 365 administrator, you should do your best to keep on top of the changes to the service. Be sure to check out [https://blogs.office.com/](https://blogs.office.com/), the central location for all the Office team blogs out of Microsoft.
If you would like to speak to TD about Office 365, or any other technology, please contact us here.