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Office 365 mixes new features, familiar feel and bridge to the cloud

Vangie Beal | March 28, 2013
The new Office 365 and its enterprise-grade cloud services are a good option for a business of any size. We look at the Windows 8 experience, the desktop-cloud connection and which of the new features will most appeal to both end-users and IT admins.

Microsoft Office 365 takes a cue from earlier editions of Office, keeping its comfortable, familiar user interface while adding the features that make it easier and faster for IT to set up and run Office on networked computers, in the cloud or on-premises.

Add SharePoint 2013, Exchange 2013 and Lync 2013 integration to the familiar Office applications-Word, PowerPoint, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher-and you have a suite that's a good fit for most business and enterprise users. Here's a look at what deploying Office 365 will mean for end users and IT departments.

Windows Mobile, Desktop Offer Similar User Experience

Before getting started with the new Office applications, it's important to know how Office 365 is integrated on all Windows 8 environments. For your mobile workforce, Office on a Windows 8 tablet is not much different than using Office on a desktop; it's basically the desktop experience on a smaller screen with the touch interface. Those running Windows 8 (or even Windows 7) on a laptop or PC will have a similar experience to users running Windows 8 mobile devices.

Office 365 on a Windows 8 tablet provides the same user experience for those on a desktop PC.

Using a Samsung ATIV Smart PC, Office 365 worked well with touch, pen or keyboard and mouse. However, I had occasional problems with the Windows touch interface; at times I simply couldn't touch the correct point to click-to-close an application, for example, and the pen didn't always hit the mark either. It's not a constant issue, but when it happens, it's frustrating.

The good news is that you get Office 365 for one device and can use it on all your other devices. This makes it easy to work from home, the office or on the go. Recreating the same user experience across all devices is what we like to see for business use-it means less time wasted in trying to figure out how to use applications on different devices.

How Office 365 Can Bridge Desktop-Cloud Gap

Just as Microsoft tries to make it easy for Office 365 Enterprise users to move between desktop and mobile environments, the vendor aims to do the same for companies that are bridging the gap between on-premises and cloud deployments. IT can run any app in the cloud or locally based on policy, access or per-user basis. For example, critical office apps can be local but your file share can be online. Or you could stream applications and keep the documents behind your firewall.

Another major Office 365 update is click-to-run deployment. It's basically an "Office on Demand" feature that lets you run all Office applications as you need them by streaming them over the Internet. If youre not ready to upgrade all Office apps from older versions, Microsoft gives you the option to download or run the individual apps when you are ready.


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