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7 things you may not know about Microsoft Office

Paul Rubens | March 19, 2014
This isn't your parent's Microsoft Office. Recent activity culminating with the SharePoint Conference 2014 shows that Microsoft is making its Office suite more social, more integrated with both home-grown and acquired Microsoft technologies, more analytical and more cloud-friendly.

Microsoft Office and Office 365 are evolving. Product names have changed. Mobile APIs have been released. A plethora of other Microsoft products have been integrated with the desktop and cloud-based productivity suite.

Much has changed, so here's a roundup of seven things that you may not know about the "new" Microsoft Office.

1. Office 365 Will Use Social, Big Data Technologies
Microsoft's recent SharePoint Conference 2014 showcased new technology in the pipeline for Office 365 updates.

The first is Office Graph, a behind-the-scenes "intelligence fabric" that analyses content, interactions and activity and maps relationships à la Yammer. It uses machine learning to surface the most relevant content for each user.

A new application, codenamed Oslo, which Microsoft demonstrated at the conference, uses information from the Office Graph to dig out relevant information for each Office 365 user from SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, Yammer and Office.

Microsoft also announced a Groups feature for Office 365 that brings together conversations, calendars, emails and files. Creating a Group in Office 365 will automatically provision a corresponding Yammer conversation feed - and well as calendar, document library and inbox - where members can collaborate and work as a team.

2. Yammer Being Woven Into Office 365 Fabric
When Microsoft acquired the social networking company Yammer in the summer of 2012, the initial plan was to keep the company separate rather than absorb it into Microsoft, where it might disappear. Over time, though, it has been integrated into Office 365, particularly SharePoint.

Now the company says it's planning to make it easy for IT pros to replace the out-of-the-box SharePoint Server 2013 social experience with Yammer. It will be possible to activate it using controls in SharePoint's central administration console, redirecting users to an organization's Yammer network.

Microsoft also plans to introduce " Inline Social" throughout Office 365, likely through the use of Yammer technology. The first feature to be introduced will be the capability to have social conversations inside documents stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business (see below).

3. SkyDrive Pro Is Now 'OneDrive for Business;' Office Web Apps Now 'Office Online'
Microsoft's cloud-based storage service, SkyDrive, has been renamed OneDrive, while SkyDrive Pro, the business version, has been renamed OneDrive for Business. (The change follows a court ruling over a trademark dispute with British satellite broadcaster BskyB.)

Come April, OneDrive for Business will be available as a standalone product offering secured file, synchronization and sharing in the cloud with integration with Office.

In SharePoint Server 2013 Service Pack 1, released in February, Microsoft introduced new admin controls to "turn on" OneDrive for Business in the cloud directly from the SharePoint Server 2013 admin console. This lets customers keep on-premises infrastructure while using cloud-based file storage and sharing.


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