UPDATED: Office for Mac gets updated, Skype for Salesforce beta and 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.
Early challengers fell away and Microsoft was criticised for its use of proprietary standards. However in the late 2000s and early 2010s, the emergence of the smartphone and competitors like Google Docs saw Microsoft change strategy, becoming more open and mobile, and shifting to the cloud, subscription-based Office 365.
There are now more than one billion users of Microsoft Office and it remains an important tool for the enterprise, so here’s the latest news:
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.
September 2016: Office 365 Project Time Reporter Available On iOS App Store
Microsoft announced the availability of Office 365 Project Time Reporter iOS app, which allows users to submit timesheets and report progress on tasks tracked in Project Online, the company’s project management tool.
“With the Office 365 Project Time Reporter on your iPhone, you can add new assignments or non-project work to your timesheet or create new personal tasks in the Timesheet view,” said Microsoft’s Project team.
“You can also keep track of your current or overdue tasks in the Tasks view, filter and sort tasks to find the right ones, and submit status updates.”
Versions of the app for Android and Windows Phone have yet to be released but are on their way according to the Redmond company.
Opening up its Office and other productivity tools to non-Windows platforms is a continuation of Microsoft’s strategy to expand the reach and breadth of its software.
September 2016: Microsoft adds new capabilities to SharePoint Online
Sharepoint Online is now more deeply integrated with Office 365 Groups, allowing each group to have a team site that can be populated with SharePoint Pages comprising various web parts such as text, images, video and Yammer feeds.
The home page will show the team’s most relevant content, show recent activity and offer quick links to documents and applications
August 2016: Office 365 Targets Inclusion With Accessibility Update
Microsoft is to make it easier for people with disabilities to create content with an Office 365 accessibility update.
“As we make Office 365 accessible by design and make it easy for everyone to create accessible content, we hope that people of all abilities will feel empowered to achieve more with our productivity technologies, have equal access to digital information and have fulfilling interactions with each other,” said John Jendrezak, accessibility lead for the Office engineering team.
So what can we expect going forward? One of the key improvements will be to help visually impaired people with the screen reader tool for Word, Outlook and SharePoint.
The built-in screen reader tool is called Narrator, and was updated as part of the recent Windows 10 anniversary update earlier this month.
The update includes new voices that can speak up to 800 words per minute, and Redmond says it has “six levels of verbosity, so you can get varying indications of text properties and control over how much punctuation you hear, and verbal hints when automatic suggestions are available.”
August 2016: Office for Mac gets 64-bit support for better performance
Microsoft has upgraded Office 2016 for Mac to 64-bit. New versions of Word Excel, PowerPoint , Outlook and OneNote will be available as part of the August product release and affects customers of all licence types – including Retail, Office 365 Consumer, Office 365 Commercial, and Volume License installations.
Unlike Windows, there is no choice between running 32-bit or 64-bit versions of Mac OS, so Microsoft won’t offer a similar choice for the Mac edition of its office suite.
The transition was first announced in April 2016, but Microsoft admits some third-party add-ons may suffer from compatibility issues. However Microsoft will make a one-tie 32-bit update for Office Mac 15.25 if a developer needs to change some code, although this must be installed manually.
Microsoft Office for Mac 2016 was first made available to Office 365 subscribers.