What's New on the Office 365 Roadmap?

Mobile Man / Tuesday, May 05, 2015

For years, consumers and enterprises alike were forced to wait long periods for Microsoft’s next updates, yet with the upcoming release of Windows 10 this model will gradually disappear. In theory, the question “which version are you running on?” will become obsolete. It’s common knowledge that under Satya Nadella Microsoft are emphasizing a ‘mobile first, cloud first’ approach and for end users the advantage of this is that updates will be more rapid, regular and relevant.

The Redmond WA. firm are currently pushing Office 365 as the future of enterprise IT, and the stack is built for total cloud integration in mind (although it’s still possible to customize your own hybrid cloud/local server solutions). Office 365 is a bold move to re-establish Microsoft’s dominance in the industry and, just like Windows 10 promises to do in future, Office 365 already offers regular updates which end users can pick and choose as and when they’re released.

Open up

Another major change in Microsoft’s long term strategy is their increasing openness, not only with consumers but also by making their services available on devices built by competitors, often free of charge. As part of this move, the Office 365 RoadMap was introduced in mid-2014 to the pleasure of app developers, Office 365 professionals, IT managers and almost anyone who uses the platforms.

Office 365 is an enormous stack, so while it’s great we can now see what’s to be expected over the coming months, finding the time to keep up to date with these changes isn’t always easy. At Infragistics we’re all about finding ways of improving enterprise UX and streamlining workflows across platforms and so we like to follow how Microsoft are making this easier. The RoadMap of recent, current and upcoming updates is extensive, to put it lightly, but Office 365 really does let you pick and choose, and so as cross platform app developers, we’re really excited about many of these releases.

1. Yammer on mobile devices. 

Recent weeks have seen numerous updates for Yammer on different devices. The latest developments allow amazingly simple integration with Mac OS X Yosemite and iOS 8 so you can simply switch between your desktop or iPhone/iPad and continue collaborating on the social network.

For Android on the other hand (or more literally, on the other wrist), Yammer has recently become available with Android wear. It’ll be possible to read and ‘like’ messages and even dictate your responses directly to your watch. Yes, the future is here already.

2. OneDrive for Business on Mac and iOS

While you could already use OneDrive for Business from Apple devices, January 2015 saw the release of an update which made the whole process of using Microsoft’s online storage a whole lot easier. This will take the form of a standalone app that facilitates sync and share between the cloud and the user’s Apple devices, thus making productivity on the go easier than before.

3. Outlook for iOS and Android

In addition to the email management solutions natively found on iOS and Android devices, the app stores abound with email management tools. Despite these challenges, Microsoft are convinced that their touch friendly version of Outlook for these operating systems will create traction. The new version of Outlook is a great little tool - it’s optimized for users on the go, people who need to triage their emails quickly and see what’s most important to them. Machine learning means the app gradually works out what kinds of emails, and which contacts you want to see while out and about. Its real draw is its integration with Office 365 and business users in particular will wonder how they lived without it.

4. Office 365 video

The moving image is one of the greatest means of mass communication and so it’s more than a little bit exciting to see that it is currently being rolled out on Office 365. You can read Microsoft's official announcement here. The use applications of video on your company’s IT platform are as diverse and creative as your company is, so whether it’s a message from the CEO, a recording from a conference, ideas to share with colleagues on Yammer or just about anything else, video on Office 365 could really shake up how you communicate with colleagues.

5. Lync Web App support for Mac and Chrome browsers

It’s currently a pain to use the Lync Web App when not using Internet Explorer and it requires numerous steps before users can simply get on with chatting. Fortunately, Microsoft have been listening to their users and in the coming months the Lync web App will be universally accessible, regardless of the browser you use.

From A to B

Microsoft are constantly updating Office 365 and keeping an eye on the latest and upcoming releases gives you an overview of what to prepare for. We’re impressed to see just how wholeheartedly Microsoft have embraced their new, open and transparent model. The cross platform offerings in particular are exciting and in a world of mobile working, this approach is really appreciated. We can’t wait to see what else is around the corner.

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