This week we’re starting a 2-to-3 part series on Office 365 and the various upgrades/changes coming soon. I’ve been an O365 user for over a year now and recently received my upgrade notice email. This means I should get my upgrades in the next 2-3 weeks. I’m happy to see these coming because I think it’s going to make navigating the Office 365 on the web much easier. Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Email, Calendar and People changes
- Documents, Collaboration, Storage and Office Web Apps
- Lync OR we’ll look at pricing and products for home or business use.
I’ve been very happy for the most part with Office 365. The feature I wanted most was reliable email, calendar, contacts & tasks that synced across all my devices and I have that with this Exchange product. Office 365 means I am not an Exchange server administrator, neither do I have to buy an expensive server and software to run my email. Instead I pay $6/month and I get Exchange email, Sharepoint/SkyDrive Pro storage for my documents, Lync (a video/file shareing/instant message/meeting software) and a front-facing website (I don’t use this, I use WordPress).
Managing all of the above from my desktop application of Office 2013 has been seamless and easy. However, using the O365 features from the web hasn’t been as great of an experience. Let’s look at what’s coming:
New Navigation for Office 365 on the Web
Right now, when I log into my O365 account, I land in the Admin section – here’s a screenshot of what I see now.
Below is a screenshot of the new interface (image from an O365 training PowerPoint). With the new interface, I see and can go instantly to mail, calendar, contacts (people), SkyDrive (Sharepoint), Newsfeed (where you can see what your co-workers are posting, working on and sharing) and Sites (SharePoint/document storage). The feature I like most is all these are visible from anywhere you are on the web app. That means, no more multiple clicks to get from calendar to SkyDrive to Contacts. This is a smoother process and a time saver.
Add Your Other Email Accounts to your O365 Account
This is a feature I currently have, but never noticed or used it. So I added an email account to see what it looked like and how it worked. I added an outlook.com account to my O365 account and all that mail was imported into my O365 account. Well, I wanted to have my outlook.com account separate from my O365 mail. I did not want a ‘unified’ inbox. I found I needed to set up a rule for that. So be advised if you decide to incorporate your accounts, they will initially be mingled with your current email. This graphic shows that. If you want to keep your mail accounts separate, click the link to find out how to set up an inbox rule that will take care of that. That’s what I did with my account and then I ran the rule and wa-la, it was sorted. Of course you can stop the connected accounts at any time by following the procedure (that link can also be found when clicking the graphic below). If you have a .pst account, that can be imported, but only using the Desktop Office Outlook application.
Add LinkedIn and Facebook Contacts to the Web-based Office 365
When this new feature comes, you’ll be able to connect to these social media accounts and all your social media contacts will be imported into your current list of contacts (people). Microsoft will try to link the same contacts together so you won’t have multiples. The instructions for connecting to those services are here.
- Apps to add features (example would be if there’s a street address in a message, a map will be inserted)
- Ability to filter messages with one click
- in-line compose of replies (this is a new feature in Outlook 2013)
- drag and drop to add an attachment (supported in some browsers)
- ability to merge calendars (you’ll have this if you’ve added other email accounts).
- more useful month view via a grid
There’s a lot to look forward to. Having this anywhere access, syncing across all devices, web apps and no-worry maintenance makes this a bargain at $6/month for the small business plan I have. If you only need email, there’s a $4/month plan waiting for you. What are your thoughts on Office 365?