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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.

What's New in Office 365: Excel and Lync

With some time logged in Excel you'll soon discover the hidden gem: You don't have to know a single thing about charts and tables to visualize your data. With a single click action, Excel will recommend the most suitable charts based on patterns in your data. For the enterprise, there's PowerPivot, an Excel add-in that provides in-memory database technology to allow fast manipulation of large data sets, streamlined integration of data and the ability to share your analysis.

New Excel features let you create charts and tables in a single click.

Other valuable timesaving features include "Quick Trend" for historical time-series data and " Timeline Slicer" for viewing data over different periods. In Excel 2013, Microsoft has made it easier to share a workbook online and to collaborate with coworkers or partners; simply send a link to your workbooks saved in the cloud.

Finally, Lync connects you to IM and lets you host or participate in online meetings via voice or high-definition video. Presence indicators help you see when coworkers are online (or busy) and these presence indicators will show in the Outlook Web app and SharePoint team sites as well.

With Lync you can connect with coworkers via voice or HD video and share Office documents in a controlled presentation setting.

Lync supports common messaging platforms including Skype, Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger, AOL Instant Messenger and Google Talk. The new "Quick Lync" feature menu appears over any Lync contact and shows all available communication modes, based on the person's presence indicator. You can start a session with a single click.

Like all Internet-based communications, your experience with the new Lync can be only as good as your network connection.

10 Office 365 Features You'll Appreciate

The entire Office 365 suite is vast, and it's nearly impossible to cover it all in one article. Based on my experience with Office 365 Enterprise, here's a quick look at some of the best features enterprise users and admins will appreciate.

Top 5 Office 365 End User Features

  • Office Web Apps for Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote let you work across multiple devices.
  • Recent documents, settings and custom dictionaries follow your Office 365 account.
  • The user experience is mirrored between desktop and mobile devices.
  • A cleaner interface that puts the focus on your content provides a good user experience on small devices.
  • Single-click Excel actions create clear data visualizations.

Top 5 Office 365 Administrator Features

  • IT can keep some users on-premises while others access services from the cloud. Companies can move to the cloud at their own pace and test different configurations before deploying.
  • Administrators can manage on-premises Office servers and Office 365 (as well as users on both) within a single interface.
  • IT centrally controls mobile device settings such as passwords and PINs and can remote wipe lost or stolen devices.
  • IT has complete control over client software updates, which take place in the background and are invisible to users.
  • Routine tasks are automated and fine-grained control over settings (via PowerShell support) is readily available.


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