Microsoft Plans Office 365 Upgrades

Office 365 - @SeniorDBA

A few months ag0 Microsoft announced that Windows 10 would receive major updates just twice a year, scheduled for September and March. Based on feedback from enterprise customers wanting a more tolerable schedule, Microsoft moved to make their release schedule more predictable.

What some people missed is that they also announced an identical schedule for corporate subscribers to Office 365. They aligned the update schedule with Windows 10. Microsoft says they plan to deliver and support Office 365 ProPlus updates, starting in September.

Microsoft also extended support 50% from 12 months per update to 18 months. The additional six months means your IT team can choose to push updates just once or twice a year.

Office 365 update channels, showing the new update channel names and release cadence

The twice-a-year feature updates will be named Semi-annual Channel (Pilot) and Semi-annual Channel (Broad), each describing how Microsoft envisions them being deployed in the enterprise. Most people will probably just refer to them as simply “Pilot” and “Broad”.

You can get more information here.

New Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook features coming to Office 365

In an effort by Microsoft to continuously add new features to the Office 365 platform, users will soon get new tools that are intended to help prioritize important email, improve their writing skills, and better research topics of interest. The new features are added to three applications included in the Office 365 suite.

Outlook

A new feature called “Focused Inbox” is a messaging feature that launched in the Outlook for Android and iOS apps in January. It is now included in the Outlook for Mac, Windows and web users. The Focused Inbox automatically separates your inbox into two tabs. There is a “Focused” folder for important email, and another tab labeled “Other” for everything else. Focused Inbox is supposed to learn what is important based on how you move email in or out your folders of choice. The feature should help provide you with a single view of the most important items in their inboxes, across all platforms.

PowerPoint

This presentation tool will get a feature called “Zoom” that lets you create interactive, nonlinear presentations. You will be able to use Zoom to show slides in any order you want, without exiting slide show mode. This new feature will allow you to move to a different slide without hitting the back or forward buttons to return to previous slides your summary or Q&A portions of your presentation.

Word

A new tool for Word is “Researcher,” which offers a new window to allow users to research and explore material related to topics of interest. Using outside sources and the Bing Knowledge Graph, Researcher pulls information and shows it to the user without having to switch to another interface like the browser. Microsoft says it will add more reference materials to Researcher, including well-known encyclopedias and internet databases.

Free Project Planner for Office 365 Users

When Microsoft released Planner for selected customers last fall, the project management and team collaboration application was seen as a possible solution to simplified project management. Now this tool is free to all Office 365 users for free. This utility lets you organize projects into “buckets”, which are collections of individual tasks that allows users to easily drag and drop from one bucket to another.

You can get more information from Microsoft.

Eliminate Boring Microsoft PowerPoint Presentations

Microsoft has the perfect solution to presentations: PowerPoint. The problem is that most people make boring presentations. Microsoft is helping to eliminate boring presentations with the introduction of a couple of new features. “We want to make PowerPoint smarter,” says PowerPoint Partner Group Program Manager Shawn Villaron. “The quality of your slides is going to go up.”

The only catch is that you will need a Microsoft Office 365 subscription to take advantage of the new features. The new features are currently only on the Windows desktop and Windows Mobile versions of PowerPoint, but Microsoft promises it’s coming to other versions of PowerPoint soon.

The first feature, called PowerPoint Designer, suggests slide layouts and features based on the content. If you include a picture in your presentation it suggest a series of remixed slide designs that might change the color scheme to match the photo, or place the photo at an interesting eye-catching angle.

The second update is PowerPoint Morph, which makes it much easier to do animations in your presentation. You can do animations in PowerPoint today, but they can be difficult and complicated to accomplish.

You can read more about this here.