Microsoft didn't disappoint with the new and improved capabilities it announced and demonstrated for Office 365 this week, but how well they work in the real world remains to be seen.
At its SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft laid out its vision for making Office 365 a more intelligent collaboration suite via new social interactions, APIs (application programming interfaces) and machine learning capabilities.
The online version of Microsoft Office has a new name, along with some new features intended to streamline certain activities.
Why the name change? In a blog post on Wednesday, Office Online product marketing manager Amanda Lefebvre acknowledged that the name Office Web Apps confused users. Some apparently thought they had venture to an app store to find the software and then manually install it.
Apple launched the iPad four years ago, igniting a tablet frenzy that altered personal computing at home and at work, but Microsoft has yet to release an Office version for touchscreen devices.
Much is made about the absence of full, native versions of Office for iPads and Android tablets, but Microsoft hasn't even readied one yet for its own touch-optimized Windows 8 OS, released in October 2012, thus depriving its own Surface tablets of a great sales incentive.
Microsoft will demonstrate how Lync and Skype users will be able to communicate via video conferencing, the next stage of the integration between its enterprise unified communications server and its consumer IM and IP telephony network. The new integration will be shown at the Lync Conference, in Las Vegas and will be attended by almost 2,000 customers and partners, according to Microsoft.
Polycom expanded its ongoing partnership with Microsoft to include the new Polycom CX8000 room system, integrating an HD video conferencing system with Microsoft Lync. The Polycom CX8000 solution also includes presence, contact search, instant messaging, HD audio, virtual white boarding, touch display-powered presentations, application sharing, and shared document editing.
Beware of misleading numbers, says one analyst; look at Office Web Apps' progress, argues another A year after the launch of Microsoft's ambitious Office 365, it's almost impossible for outsiders to get a grip on how the software-by-subscription program has done, analysts admitted today.
Microsoft will roll out over the coming weeks enhanced administration tools for partners that manage their customers' Office 365 deployments.
The revamped Office 365 admin console has new and improved tools for resellers, systems integrators and other Microsoft partners hired by their customers to manage the email and collaboration suite on their behalf.
For starters, the console now will let partners view in a single page all the Office 365 environments they manage for their customers.
For nearly two years, tech insiders whispered that Microsoft was designing its own computer servers. Much like Google and Facebook and Amazon, the voices said, Microsoft was fashioning a cheaper and more efficient breed of server for use inside the massive data centers that drive its increasingly popular web services, including Bing, Windows Azure, and Office 365.
Microsoft will let its foreign cloud customers decide what country their data is stored in as a way to avoid local laws that might compromise their data privacy, the company's top lawyer says.
Customers should have the choice of Microsoft data centers when they buy cloud services, says Brad Smith, the company's general counsel in an interview with the Financial Times.
Users will see a list of actions taken by colleagues on their files and folders. Google took another step toward giving its Apps suite an ESN (enterprise social networking) component with the new activity stream feature for the Drive cloud storage piece.
Google said in a blog post that Drive's activity stream is "a single, easy-to-view place to review every action taken on your files and folders."
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