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Office 365 Updates Adding Some SharePoint Enhancements This Month

Office 365 updates will be arriving to Microsoft's business subscribers this month.

The updates include Office Online collaboration improvements, as well as activation of some new SharePoint and OneDrive features. Office Online, formerly known as "Office Web Apps," are Microsoft's browser-based versions of Excel, Word, PowerPoint and OneNote applications. Office Online use typically comes with various Office 365 subscription plans.

Mostly end user Office 365 improvements were described in Microsoft's announcement this week by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team. Koenigsbauer also noted some future Office 365 capabilities that will be arriving.

Microsoft tends to roll out its Office 365 improvements to subscribers gradually, but they could see these updates as early as next week.

New SharePoint and OneDrive Capabilities
Koenigsbauer said that Microsoft has "already started rolling out" some of its SharePoint mobile improvements that were described earlier this month as part of a general SharePoint roadmap announcement. The new capabilities that are arriving to Office 365 subscribers include:

  • A new SharePoint home page, which shows "access to team sites, search and views into activity across your teams and organization"
  • The ability to use OneDrive to "share, edit and take offline any files stored in SharePoint document libraries, Office 365 groups and OneDrive for Business" when using Apple iPad and iPhone devices
  • A new "Discover view" to find files, which works with OneDrive on Android devices as well as on Office Online

Commercial Office Online users also will see a "real-time" chat button, which shows up for "any document stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business." This capability is just available to Office 365 Business and Education edition subscribers. Microsoft described it in this blog post. The chat history from the real-time chat feature doesn't get saved with the document, but it's possible to manually copy and paste it, if wanted.

The new SharePoint mobile app announced earlier this month isn't available yet. It will be coming at the end of June for the Android platform, and it will be available for the Windows platform "later this year," Koenigsbauer indicated.

Microsoft also is planning a future revamp of the user interface (UI) in SharePoint document libraries and lists, making it look more like the UI of OneDrive, which is Microsoft's cloud-based storage and collaboration application.

"SharePoint document libraries and lists (coming soon) have a simple and familiar new look based on OneDrive, while still offering intuitive access to the rich content management and customizability of SharePoint," Koenigsbauer explained, regarding this coming UI enhancement.

Outlook Enhancements
A few improvements are coming this month to various Microsoft Outlook clients.

Rolling out this month for Outlook on the Web users is a new Skype for Business chat capability. Users now get a Skype icon within the UI. Outlook on the Web is Microsoft's new name for its Outlook Web App browser-based e-mail client.

Outlook for Android and iOS also will have a UI that will let users join Skype Meetings from the events pane. This capability will be arriving as early as next week.

Microsoft improved access to files that get attached to Skype Meeting requests using Outlook 2016 or Outlook on the Web. These attachments now become available "as soon as participants join" the meeting.

Also arriving next week will be additional support for Outlook on Android Wear. That's the watch-like device running the Android operating system. Outlook will show the user's upcoming calendar events on the watch's face. The number of new e-mails available also will be shown.

Outlook for Mac now supports Arabic and Hebrew. Microsoft also added "a new editor with enhanced formatting support."

These Office 365 announcements supplement Outlook improvements that Microsoft described earlier this month.

Visio AutoCAD File Support
Visio Pro for Office 365 now supports AutoCAD 2013 and AutoCAD 2010 file formats, Microsoft announced. Architects and engineers can now collaborate on these files using Visio Pro.

The collaboration capabilities include "co-authoring, commenting and annotation" and data can be added on top of layouts. Microsoft plans show off these capabilities in a July 12 Web presentation (signup here).

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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