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Before the business release, Microsoft gave CMSWire a look at the new version. Even from an interface perspective, it looks brand, spanking new. The typefaces look cleaner, although there is no reason why they should, while frequently used items are accessible with a single click. Touch Mode adds more space while Quick Peeks let you see what’s happening in your calendar, where your contacts are and what they are doing from Outlook without leaving the inbox.
From a mobile perspective, all the functionality is accessible through touch, or with a stroke of a pen and with the sit-down desktop version you also have a wide range of content creation features.
Like predictive texting, Windows 8 also enables accurate touch typing with word and spelling suggestions with two different kinds of keyboards — a full keyboard and one that can be used by thumbs.
Office 365 Outlook
Social Office 365
But it is the social aspects of Office 365 that many people will be looking at. Under this umbrella, you get a whole range of upgrades across the entire suite, but particularly in SharePoint.
While we are still waiting for the new version of SharePoint, the online version that appears in this version of Office 365 offers business-centric social networking that will enable users to follow people, teams, documents and sites, ensuring they know exactly what is happening. It can even decide itself what documents or sites users should be following and offers recommendations based on prior use.
Ratings and reputation scores enable to users recognize expert communities that they may be interested in following, while familiar social features such as hashtags, @mentions, and likes will satisfy even the most avid social networker. Newsfeed items can also be turned into Outlook tasks.
Part of the Office 365 roadmap also includes deeper SharePoint-Yammer integration, with a number of the Office 365 plans including a Yammer component as part of their packages.
Social feeds have also been upgraded with, for example, People Cards, accessible from all Office applications that provide a single view of everyone connected, no matter where they are. Office in this version includes built-in connectors that bring LinkedIn and Facebook into more of your workday.
Office 365 Top Ten
All this is only the tip of a very large iceberg, anyone interested in it should look at a trial version before drawing any conclusions. However, while Microsoft has been heavily promoting the entire suite, for the business community it is the improvements that appear in SharePoint, Exchange and Lync that make communication and collaboration easier. The improvements go something like this:
Office 365 SharePoint
Top 10 Improved SharePoint Features
- User Experience: The user experience has been simplified with functionality like drag-and-drop content into document libraries, live content previews, and list editing inline.
- Social: Allows users to track colleagues and what they are doing, as well as enabling sharing of current tasks and the ability to ask questions about what colleagues are doing.
- Network: New search abilities enables users to connect with people across the enterprise as well as information about their skillset, projects and past history.
- SkyDrive Doc Sync: With SkyDrive Pro, users will be able to sync content in SharePoint to their desktop.
- Content share: Easier sharing of content from one place within SharePoint.
- Site creation: Team sites can now be created in minutes with new wizards that help users set permissions, track meeting notes and bring all relevant content under the same roof.
- Project organization: Gives you views of projects and upcoming deliverables across SharePoint, Outlook and Microsoft Project.
- Customizable search: Easy-to-customize searches enables users to narrow searches and deliver more accurate results.
- Mobile SharePoint: Easier to manage content from smartphone or tablet.
- SharePoint marketplace: Easy access to SharePoint apps through the marketplace a click away.
Top 10 Improved Exchange Features