Friday, November 21, 2014

More changes in features and licensing for Office365 - November Update

Microsoft has been aggressively pushing along new updated to Office365 features - all free - to help it compete against Google and other offerings.  In addition to the license changes in my last article, here are some of the recently announced or released changes:
  • Unlimited storage  (Currently 1TB) planned for OneDrive personal and OneDrive for business - soon you will have no limits on how much you can store in your OneDrive in the cloud. This is interesting and potentially useful and valuable.
  • Video Channels - To go with unlimited cloud storage, Microsoft has also announced a platform for creating video channels in the cloud to share with your organization (and one assumes eventually with the public).  Again interesting because it means that organizations can create video channels for training, information sharing etc.
  • Groups - Microsoft is aggressively integrating their YAMMER social communications platform into Office365.  Users can now create "Groups" of employees that can share a communications platform including persistent chat, files specific to the group, and a calendar. This will I think gradually replace the existing cumbersome SharePoint Sites for most casual group interaction. Think of a group as a shared mailbox, a chat log, a shared calendar and a shared SharePoint document repository - all under a single banner and available from the web.
  • Clutter - Microsoft has rolled out a new mail management tool called "Clutter".  It's available now for early adopters and for everyone soon. Clutter can be turned on or off for a particular user. It creates a clutter folder that learns from your activities. Marking an email as "clutter" in the inbox or dragging and dropping it to the clutter folder in outlook will "train" the clutter algorithm what stuff you still want to see (haven't marked as junk) but "clutters" up your inbox. This is similar to tools from Google that try to categorize incoming mail and from Inbox that tries to hide "junky" looking mail in favor of actual communications.  The tool will learn from your behaviors and what things you consider clutter and apply those algorithms as it goes along.
  • Delve - Delve allows you to search across documents and emails - organization wide - for information (dependent on permissions).   Delve is in it's early stages but eventually could be key to sorting through tremendous amounts of information that are generated in a typical oneDrive/Yammer/Exchange/SharePoint environment.
  • Skype/Lync integration - announced but not yet active Microsoft is going to merge the popular Skype program (and it's ability to make VOIP calls to other Skype users and even to normal cell and POTS telephones) with Lync (a free messaging app included in office365) to provide a more integrated universal messaging platform.  Hopefully they will take the best of both worlds and improve them - merging Skype's ubiquitous and easy to use client with Lync's excellent web conferencing and presentation capabilities and integrate them all into the new Skype for Business.
All of these improvements are FREE and added automatically to your system - they are either there already and just need to be activated or - if you turn on "early adopter" mode will be there.  OS-Cubed is a Silver Cloud Partner in the Microsoft Cloud partner program with several hundred mailboxes under management and dozens of implementations and migrations under their belt. If you're interested in what it would take to migrate to office365, contact us!