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Microsoft Highlights November Office 365 Improvements

Microsoft this week described some Office 365 improvements that are coming to subscribers.

The announcement also confirmed that Office Mobile apps will be coming to Google Chromebooks. Microsoft had released an updated Office for Android app version earlier in November, which Microsoft explained as being "a preview of the Office Mobile apps for Google Chromebooks." However, the Office for Android app can only run on some Chromebooks, as listed by Google here. Moreover, these apps are "not yet fully optimized for the Chromebook form factor," Microsoft explained this week.

It's not clear when the optimized Office Mobile apps for Chromebooks will be available. Use rights can be perplexing, though, and difficult to find. Microsoft's announcement provided the following cautionary note about Office Mobile apps use rights:

"As with all of our mobile apps, an Office 365 subscription is required to edit documents on devices with a screen size of 10.1 inches or greater."

Microsoft restated that concept at this Office Mobile apps page, which explained that "core editing is free for consumers on devices with screen sizes of 10.1 inches or less."

IT Perks
The November update to Office 365 included a few IT pro perks. One of them is the "general availability" of a secure external link sharing capability for OneDrive and SharePoint Online.

Under this scheme, the external user has to respond to a verification code sent in an e-mail each time they want to access a linked file or folder. The external sharing solution uses a "time-limited, single-use verification code," according to Microsoft's description, and IT pros have control over how long the access rights are available. The external sharing process works without requiring that the e-mail recipient have a Microsoft account.

Microsoft also released a preview of the Compliance Manager portal, which shows Office 365 compliance details for standards and European Union General Data Protection Regulation requirements. IT pros also can use this tool to record that organizational internal controls are in compliance.

Microsoft added a capability for Office 365 E5 subscribers using its eDiscovery legal compliance search tool. The tool can now import non-Office 365 document types for analysis using the "Advanced" feature.  The exception is .PST files, or Personal Storage Table files, which are used by end users to store copies of Outlook files.

Microsoft Flow, a task-automation tool aimed at business users, now can use OneDrive's files and folders when creating workflows, Microsoft announced.

Productivity Improvements
End users are getting some productivity improvements as of November. StaffHub, a worker scheduling tool for Office 365 users, now has a button that lets shift workers clock in and clock out. The time history can be exported to Excel or there's an API to integrate with PowerApps for graphical display of the time data, according to a Microsoft video.

MileIQ, Microsoft's smartphone-based mileage logging tool for business trips that's offered with Office 365 subscriptions, can now automatically detect "frequently visited locations." After a couple of trips, MileIQ will display a prompt, asking the user to verify if it should be classified as a frequent trip. Users also can now specify their working hours.

Word now has a Resume Assistant in preview that provides resume-writing tips and leverages Microsoft's LinkedIn networking resources. Using LinkedIn, the Resume Assistant will show people with similar skills. It'll also surface associated job listings.

Microsoft also integrated its Office Lens application with the OneNote Office 365 application. Office Lens is a photo tool for smartphones that automatically crops images. It's designed to facilitate the capturing of white board content and the content of paper documents.

About the Author

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

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