I caught up with Marius Constantinescu, MVP, about his view on Office 2016, based on his privileged experience with it over the past year.
Marius: Some say – “(it’s) the most important innovation in the collaboration space by Microsoft in a decade”. Having had the opportunity to try it 1st hand for the past year, I have been witness to great features making their way in, such as Clutter, Office 365 Groups and Office Add-Ins, to name a few.
Q: Will all these features only be available on the Cloud?
Marius: Via “Cloud” actually represents the technical means of deployment. Practically speaking, Microsoft is moving away from traditional ways of software deployment where people needed to download packages. Organizations who have an Office 365 subscription can install the Office suite for up to 5 devices via their “Office Pro Plus” option, across the organisation, under the central control of administrators. The actual product works the same way as always, running on client machines, but with better integration for sure.
Q: Will SharePoint also be integrated?
Marius: "Integration with SharePoint” – means essentially easier transfer/access via better integration between different screens containing content. The best feature is the integration of OneDrive for Business, which eases the sharing of documents as attachments, by using pointers/links to their location in an organization’s intranet, be it Office 365 or SharePoint.
Another great feature is the live-monitoring of content modified via Office applications (Word, PowerPoint, Excel etc.) and making this content available directly as “most recent” in Outlook. This means that that when you write an email and share multiple files, you will instantly get access to those most recent files while attempting to attach them. This combined with the fact that you can actually choose to send “links” (for files already on OneDrive or SharePoint) instead of the actual content, will avoid cluttering of mailboxes with files and ensure that ECM strategies are followed, by enforcing central content storage.
Q: How does this impact Social Collaboration?
Marius: I haven’t really noticed anything innovative. However, new features, such as Office 365 Groups, have become the hottest topics with communities, as they promote ad-hoc collaboration - such as work on files, conversations, shared calendars, etc. - right from the comfort of Outlook. Just last week, during the Salesforce conference, Satya Nadella himself unveiled the new Office Groups application, available across the most popular mobile platforms (Android, iPhone, Windows Phone).
On another dimension, we’ve also seen integration with the new Skype for Business which, like OneDrive for Business, is natively available throughout the Office suite, providing instant messaging/conferencing capabilities.
Another feature I enjoyed was “Clutter” – an automated tool inside Outlook, manifested as a folder that actually will hold content deemed as non-important by the built-in algorithm. This is meant to relieve your Inbox of non-essential mail traffic, so you can focus on what’s most important.
From an extensibility perspective, the new “Office Add-In” platform enables unprecedented development capabilities, strongly supported by the development team, with whom, as an MVP, I have had the privilege of being in close contact. These new capabilities have reached new milestones, enabling practically any web developer to use his/her tool of preference and web technology to build highly immersive applications on top of the Office platform. I’ve seen Office add-ins running from Asp.NET MVC or AngularJS apps hosted in Azure hosted apps or Node.js, integrating data from various line-of-business applications or cloud platforms – such as Salesforce, Office 365, etc.
I foresee in the near future, a whole new universe of applications making their way into either Office Store or corporate apps catalogues, all meant to enhance experiences and boost productivity directly from Office programs.
Thank you Marius, it's always a pleasure talking with you.