Microsoft has recently added some new features to Office 365 for Business, and I wanted to give you an overview of some of my favourites.
Many businesses are now moving their IT to the 'cloud' and this is particularly applicable to small and medium-sized organisations.
The cloud allows businesses to provide their staff with advanced features and facilities without the large overheads of a data-centre.
Microsoft has done an excellent job of providing a range of cloud services enabling businesses to move a variety of functions away from traditional physical servers, including emails, storage, development platforms, Office software and even Virtual Machine space.
Office 365 is a Microsoft product aimed at both home and business users which allows you to move emails, documents and office software to the cloud. There are packages which include emails, online, mobile and full local versions of Office 2013, conferencing software, facilities to create and host a public website and file storage and sharing.
A business can choose a plan that gives them just the features they require; we always say to clients that it's not necessary to move your whole business to the cloud if it's not advantageous for you. We don't take a 'once size fits all' approach to IT!
Increased Storage with added Smart Search
All Office 365 users have access to OneDrive online storage. For businesses, the storage amount has been increased to a massive 1TB per user!And if that's not enough, you can purchase more storage with prices starting from 13p per GB.
There are also improved search functions to OneDrive which includes faster and deeper searching. This allows you to use your OneDrive documents more efficiently, and in a very similar way to if they were stored locally.
Cloud Storage through Office 365 is secure, reliable, feature rich and affordable. What's not to like?
OneNote and OWA for Android
With more and more of us working on the move, Microsoft has begun developing more apps for mobile phones and tablets. Android devices are becoming more popular and Microsoft has just launched two of their most popular apps for the Android platform.
OWA (Outlook Web App) gives you access to your emails, calendars, contacts and tasks on the move and can even be secured with a separate pin to your device. The OWA app is compatible with all Exchange emails so even if your emails are stored on a server in the office, you can still take advantage of its easy-to-use layout.
OneNote is a popular note taking tool which allows documents to include pictures, text, charts, diagrams and links to other websites. These pages can then be shared with multiple users who can then collaborate to it. The Android app is a slightly simpler version of the desktop software, but is still very powerful and user-friendly.
With Office 365, it's easy to share your documents, Sharepoint sites, and Exchange calendars with people both inside and outside your organisation. This is great for if you work with lots of specialist companies, partners and suppliers.You can now find all of the most commonly used settings in one place, in the admin centre.
If you still needed convincing that Office 365 is perfect for people on the move, then look no further than the Outlook Web App. From here you can open a document (for instance, an attachment on an email) and this will then be opened in the appropriate Office web app and the original email will be shown side-by-side.
The document can then be viewed, edited and saved, all whilst viewing the original email alongside it. The email can also be forwarded, replied to etc. all from the same window. If you edit the file and send it back to a colleague, a new file will be created with your name appended to the original file name e.g. Meeting Agenda (John Smith). docx. This means that you can easily track the adjustments made to files through your email conversation.
If only everything in life could be this simple!
Public folders are a great way to share access and provide an easy and effective way to collect, organise, and share information with other people in your organisation. Office 365 Public Folder limits have recently been upgraded by ten times! (the limit was previously 10,000). So, if you have been putting off transferring over to Office 365 because of the large amount of public folders you use, you needn't worry any more!
This is just a run-down of the new additions, there is already tonnes of good stuff on offer which I just don't have the word count for! If you would like more information about Office 365, moving to the cloud or any of your other IT needs, then please don't hesitate to get in touch.
On Tuesday evening, Microsoft unveilved details for their new operating system, Windows 10.
It seems strange that Microsoft would choose to skip over the next chronological order being Windows 9. But Microsoft believe that with the changes being made in Windows 10, "rebuilding the way the system works in its entirety, creating a single experience which works across all platforms, it wouldn't feel right to call it Windows 9." Said Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President.Windows 10 is expected to launch at some point next year, three years on from the release of Windows 8, which failed to impress many due to the major changes that were introduced that (on the surface) massively changed the user experience.So what can we expect from the new addition to the family, Windows 10?
New (or old) and improved Start Menu:
One of the main problems which Microsoft received criticism for was the traditional ‘start menu' removal from Windows 8, removing the Windows desktop experience for many Desktop PC users. The new and improved start menu will have a blend of both Windows 7 and 8, mixing the metro tiles with the traditional look and feel of the Windows 7 menu.
A new feature to be introduced is 'Continuum'. Essentially this allows your PC to automatically detect how you are using your computer and which is the best layout to have. If you have a keyboard connected to the PC, Windows will be in ‘desktop mode'. If you unplug your keyboard, Windows will be placed into ‘touch mode'.
"One product family, a tailored experienced for each device." Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President.
Windows 10 Universal apps:
As mentioned earlier, Windows 10 has been rebuilt as one platform for all devices. This includes a single app store for all devices, whether it is for your Windows Phone, tablet or PC. Universal apps on Windows 10 for PC will run within a separate window.
Building on the great feature that is ‘Snap', Windows 10 will provide new features allowing tiling of windows, snapping side-by-side and also ‘virtual multi-desktop modes' to spread windows across multiple virtual desktops.
Overall, the new Windows 10 is looking to be a fantastic addition to the Windows OS family. It feels like Microsoft have taken all the good things we love about Windows and refined them to make a polished experience.For more information on Windows 10, read Microsoft's press release here.If you are interested in trying Windows 10, the technical preview is available following this link. Please be aware that this is a preview of the Operating System, and is in no way stable and issues may potentially occur when using the preview release.
Update, 8th October 2014
Today the media reported that Microsoft is 'keylogging' anyone that has installed the Windows 10 preview. Exactly what Microsoft is tracking, and to what extent, has been varied.
Luckily Pete, our Technical Director, had the opportunity to speak to a Microsoft employee at IPEXPO a few hours after the news broke.
Pete was keen to find out if there's an 'opt-out' option. We have been eagerly testing Windows 10 in the office with good results so far, but without knowing the full picture we're understandably reluctant to continue.Unfortunately, they couldn't confirm anything about opting out during the conversation, but they did reveal a couple of exciting developments coming our way in November.I'm sure there will be further reports about this over the coming days. Whilst we, just like any user, would naturally be concerned about 'keylogging' it's important to remember there are two sides to every argument. If Microsoft can responsibly use this information, and enhance a product for the consumer's gain, then is that a bad thing? As Pete says, "it's nice to see they want to listen to us". We will continue to test it, but until Microsoft clarifies what is being recorded, we'll be using testing credentials only!What do you think? Feel free to leave a comment below.