Back in the Stone Age of Technology – otherwise known as 1995 – I remember getting a package at my office with what was then the latest and greatest version of Microsoft’s industry-leading productivity suite. Microsoft Office 95 came on a CD-ROM (remember those?) and took the better part of a day to install on all of the computers in our office.
While a lot has changed since the days of big boxes filled with CD-ROMs, one thing definitely has not: Microsoft Office continues to be by far the best productivity suite in the world – a fact that is effectively undisputed.
True to form, Microsoft has continued to innovate their iconic productivity suite to ensure that it stays at the top of the hill. Office 365 represents what is arguably the greatest change in the history of Microsoft Office. In addition to adding a robust set of collaborative and integrative tools, Office 365 sheds the old license purchase model in favor of a subscription-based model. While there were certainly some skeptics of this model in the early days, it is now widely regarded as a massive success, and by all accounts signals the future of Microsoft products and services.
Office 365 is jam-packed with interesting and, more importantly, useful features. The following are just 10 that I personally have used a fair amount, which provide a sense of what Office 365 is really capable of.
1. Always have the most up to date version of Office software
Instead of needing to purchase licenses every few years for the newest version of Microsoft Office, an Office 365 subscriber is automatically eligible for the latest versions of all of the applications in the suite. In addition to eliminating the cost of new licenses, this also means you will have the latest features – security and otherwise – available to you and your team within hours of their release.
2. Integration with Yammer
Yammer is a promising application that effectively provides an in-house social network for collaboration, document sharing, and other uses. Since being purchased by Microsoft in 2012, Yammer has become an integral part of the Office 365 experience for those who choose to utilize it.
3. Near-universal compatibility (for both mobile and desktop/laptop operating systems)
Gone are the days of limited functionality of Microsoft products on competing operating systems. In addition to providing a robust suite for Mac OSX, Office 365 works on both Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile operating systems without any compatibility issues whatsoever.
4. Full functionality of mobile applications
In addition to being fully compatible with mobile operating systems, Office 365 also offers feature-rich mobile versions on those platforms, which can dramatically increase mobile productivity. This has been a major focus for Microsoft’s new CEO Satya Nadella, who wants people and companies to use Microsoft products and services regardless of the hardware they are using.
5. Robust and unlimited cloud storage solution
Subscribers to Office 365 also benefit from (what is effectively) unlimited OneDrive cloud storage. While there are some limitations associated with this feature, the storage is effectively unlimited for the typical user. For users who would be paying for cloud storage anyway, this dramatically reduces the effective cost of using Microsoft Office products via Office 365.
6. Access all of your files from anywhere, anytime
A massive cloud drive, in conjunction with the Microsoft Data Center (which include Lync, SharePoint, and Exchange) means that you can access your files securely from anywhere you have an Internet connection. In addition to improving productivity and workflow, this gives organizations using Office 365 access to enterprise-class data security.
7. Office 365 Video
Powered by Azure Media Services, Office 365 Video allows you to host, share, and view videos throughout your enterprise. As video is increasingly used for training, sales, and other purposes, the ability to host videos without depending on a third party will be increasingly valuable.
8. Simple message encryption
Office 365 offers automatic encryption of messages between coworkers. All they need is a password and Microsoft does the rest. In the past, there was typically a balancing act between security and ease of use. Microsoft is shifting the goal posts in this regard, making security much more feasible without sacrificing ease of use.
9. Integrated Skype collaboration
You can now collaborate on documents in the cloud, while utilizing Skype as a sidebar to chat in real-time about the document. No matter where you or your team is, you can now work on documents at the same time while easily staying in contact with one another. This is a major improvement over long unwieldy email chains, and has already helped me improve efficiencies in my own business.
10. Ability to link to files instead of sending them as attachments
Instead of redundantly sending attachments over and over again, Office 365 allows you to create a public, private, or invite-only link to documents hosted in the cloud. This is yet another collaborative tool that exemplifies exactly what Office 365 is all about.
There aren’t many constants in the technology industry, but one of the few that has remained true over the past two decades has been Microsoft’s ability to create useful and practical innovations in their productivity suite. Office 365 represents a fairly significant shift from prior versions, but has proven to offer substantial and robust productivity gains while retaining the simplicity, reliability, and power that made the Office productivity suite the undisputed industry leader in the first place.
These ten features are just a sample of what Office 365 has to offer. If you haven’t tried Office 365 yourself, I encourage you to do so. There is a free trial for anyone to use, and my company is always available to help with the on-boarding process.
For more information about managed services in Los Angeles, California, or for general questions about cloud migration, including how a managed service provider can ensure a seamless transition to an Office365 environment, please take a look at our website by visiting us at https://www.lastlinesolutions.com or call us at (310) 286-0111
Laurent Slutzky is the founder of Last Line Solutions Inc., a full service Managed Service Provider