A new Outlook.com beta promises to make email faster, smarter and easier to use, plus all the latest Microsoft Office 365 news
Microsoft Office needs no introduction but here’s one anyway. It became an industry standard tool following its launch in 1990, helping businesses become more productive and employees more frustrated by endless Excel spreadsheets.
It’s now moved to the cloud and onto mobile and remains an essential tool for the enterprise. Here is all the latest news for the platform.
August 2017: Outlook.com beta brings speed and AI smarts
Microsoft has launched a beta for Outlook.com, claiming it the changes make the web-based email client faster, smarter and more personal.
The addition of AI features means Outlook can issue suggestions as users type, bringing in relevant travel information, venues or even favourite sports teams into messages. Photos that have been sent or received over the platform are now stored in one place, making it easier to share, while the new modern conversation style makes it easier to follow chats and attach files.
A more responsive web development framework has given the service a new look, and personalisation options make it eaiser to find friends, files and messgaes. Less crucially, there are new emojis and GIFs.
“Additional enhancements will be rolled out over the next few months, including updates to Calendar and People. Based on your feedback, we’ll iterate, improve, refine, or discard them. At the end of the beta, we’ll bring the best innovations into Outlook.com,” said Microsoft.
Any user can enter into the beta, simply by clicking ‘try the beta’ when they are logged in, and can switch back at any time.
August 2017: New business apps and PowerPoint Updates
Microsoft is previewing three new apps in Office 365 Business Premium. Microsoft Connections, Listings and Invoicing are designed to make it easier to run a small business and wil roll out in the US, UK and Canada first.
There are also updates to Microsoft PowerPoint. PowerPoint Designer now recognises times, dates and topics on your slides and redesigns them into timelines, while support for 3D objects has also been added.
Businesses will also be boosted by Outlook updates and StaffHub, the application to manage shift workers and remote workforces.
Microsoft has combined Office 365 with Windows 10 to create a new suite of services aimed at offering customers the complete subscription based package.
The new ‘Microsoft 365’ offering is available in Enterprise and Business flavours to target all sizes of company, enabling IT managers to easily role out services across their estate, while at the same time providing unified management of the apps and services being used.
As Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team explained, Microsoft 365 offers services to “empower employees, safeguard the business and simplify IT management”.
October 2016: Office users can create and share documents from Yammer
Office 365 subscribers can now create collaborative Excel, PowerPoint and Word files directly from within Microsoft’s business social network Yammer. Teams can view documents, review changes and mark files in terms of importance and there’s also the option to share from either SharePoint or OneDrive.
Microsoft has also improved how attachments are displayed, with photos, files and links all displaying a preview in Yammer feeds.
October 2016: Microsoft releases Skype for Salesforce
Microsoft has made Skype for Salesforce available to customers, declaring it to be a great example of how the Skype Web SDK can be used to deliver integrated browser-based communications without the need for a plug-in.
Skype works directly within Salesforce, allowing users to see if a co-worker is available and see their status. Emails, instant messages, voice and video calls can all be initiated without leaving the CRM application, something Microsoft says can improve productivity and boost sales.
The tool is currently in beta and is available to all customers with Skype for Business Online and Salesforce Enterprise or Unlimited Edition. Chat works in any Lightning-equipped browser but audio and video calls at present only work in Edge and Safari. Support for Chrome and Firefox is coming soon.