Office 365 Getting PowerPoint Coauthoring and Other Collaboration Enhancements

Microsoft added Office 365 end user feature improvements this month for desktop, browser and mobile apps.

Some of the improvements are yet to come or are just available this month to "first release" Office Insider Program testers. Most of them, though, are available with the November update, which will roll out to Office 365 subscribers at various intervals. Microsoft doesn't specify the dates when Office 365 updates appear, as explained in this support document.

In general, Microsoft updated PowerPoint's and Outlook's collaboration capabilities. It also made it easier for users to get notified when documents get shared, among other improvements described in its announcement this week. The features are demonstrated in this Microsoft Mechanics presentation.

Perhaps the highlight of this month's release is that PowerPoint now supports "real-time" coauthoring, where a shared presentation document can be edited by different users simultaneously. Microsoft Word already has this capability. The PowerPoint coauthoring capability is available now for Windows tablet users of the PowerPoint Mobile application. Windows desktop users can get a preview of it today if they are part of the Office Insider beta-testing program.

The November update is also bringing an easier way to transform a traditional attached document in an Outlook e-mail into a sharable document that's accessible from a cloud-based storage service. It still takes some steps to make that happen, though. The attachment needs to be uploaded to a OneDrive account or an Office 365 Group document library. Next, the user needs to "specify sharing permissions for the email recipients." This shared document capability is available now for all Office 365 subscribers using the Windows desktop version of the Outlook application. It's also available now for users of the Outlook on the Web application, which is the one that runs in a browser.

Excel, PowerPoint and Word now have a "Shared with Me" tab that will show the documents that other users have shared. It's available for Android, iOS, Mac and Windows users. It's still to come for the Windows Mobile platform.

Also added to Excel, PowerPoint and Word is a new "Recent Folders" list. It shows up under the "Recent" tab in those applications. However, this feature is just available now to Office Insider testers.

Microsoft has introduced a test version of document-sharing notifications in Excel, Word and PowerPoint, which alerts end users when document changes are made or when documents get shared. The feature's availability and capabilities vary. Android and Windows Mobile consumer users have access to it today if they are Office Insider participants. It'll be arriving next month for consumer iOS users, Microsoft promised. Business users won't see it this month, but it'll be available "in the coming months" on all mobile platforms, Microsoft indicated.

Office 365 business subscribers using the "current channel" or "deferred channel" to receive Office 365 updates can designate some users as part of the "first release" distribution cycle if they want to get early access to features at the beta-test level. The "channels" term is lingo that Microsoft adopted back in February to describe its various Office 365 releases.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.


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