Collaboration

Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft Office 2010: Better together

Office 365 MVP Brett Hill highlights how well Microsoft Office 365 works with the stand-alone version of Office 2010.

Cloud services are all the rage these days and Microsoft's Office 365 cloud services are hot topic of conversation. Office 365 provides email (via Exchange Online), document collaboration (via SharePoint Online), and instant messages and online meetings using Lync Online.

Office 365 also provides features such as free/busy calendar sharing with Outlook, access to your email and calendar using mobile devices, document version control, web-based viewing and editing of Office documents, and voice and video calls to others in your organization, all for low monthly price. In fact Starting at a price of only $6 per user per month, the services are priced so attractively and offer so many features that many businesses, large and small, find the offer, well, compelling.

Working together

One of the key attractions is how well Microsoft Office 2010 works with Office 365. Many features of Microsoft Office simply "wake up" when you use Office 365. Scheduling meetings is easy since you can automatically see your colleague's free/busy information in your calendar. Edit documents in the cloud using Microsoft Office and new features start to work that otherwise don't appear.

In Figure A, you can see how Word offers features such as checking documents in and out, version control, and uses the URL of the file as easily as if it were stored locally.

Figure A

In fact, some of the pricing plans for Office 365 include Office Professional Pro Plus. If the plan you want doesn't include Office Professional Plus, you can subscribe to it individually for $12 per month. This subscription allows you to always keep up to date with the latest version of Office, and you can install it up to five devices per user.

Free trial

Anyone can start using Office 365 for no cost by signing up for a free trial. You are not asked for your credit card and you're not billed at the end of the period automatically. In other words, if you sign up for a trial and decide not to continue, do nothing and your trial will end. You'll have 30 days of access to the services during the trial, and for 30 days afterward you can still access the services in case you have email or documents in the trial that you want to remove.

Cloud benefits

Figure B

As you can see in Figure B, since the document is in the cloud, if you edit the document and don't check it out, another person can also edit the document. This brings up a potential conflict, but Word alerts you that another user is editing the document and lets you instant message the on the spot. This feature, called "co-authoring," is only available in Office 2010.

Not to be outdone, you can also co-author documents using PowerPoint. In fact PowerPoint, Excel, and OneNote all interact with Office 365 to provide presence information and access via the Recent list and version control. In addition, Access and Infopath have special capabilities that interact with SharePoint Online as well.

PowerPoint has many of the same capabilities as Word in the way it interacts with Office 365. However, there is special case with PowerPoint that is unique. The E plans for Office 365, include the ability to create a PowerPoint slide library. This allows you to publish a deck to SharePoint online and then later build a new deck by selecting just the slides you want. When you do this, you have the ability to link the online slides to your deck.

This way, when the online slide is updated, your deck is automatically refreshed with the new content. However, a slide library must be created in SharePoint Online by the service administrator before you can publish slides in this way.

OneNote has built in the ability to open a OneNote notebook stored in SharePoint Online and keep it synchronized with your PC. This notebook can be shared with other people in order to have a common workspace for keeping details, forms, or other information that needs to be distributed.

In Figure C, you can see the option under Personal titled "Share on the Web or Network". Also this particular notebook is hosted on SharePoint Online and the URL is shown under Andy's Notebook. The Settings menu shows how you can invite others to the notebook or force synchronization. And did I mention you can open your Office 365 hosted notebook (or other Office documents) from Windows 7 phone from the Office Hub?

Figure C

Have you ever had a list that you kept in Excel which you wanted several people to use in order to keep it up to date? SharePoint Online has a great feature that allows you to "Import a Spreadsheet". Using this feature you can easily create a list in SharePoint Online that is stored in Excel. (Figure D)

Figure D

Once imported, multiple users can update the list. You can easily have SharePoint send you an email when the list is updated and if you want to, just export the list again to Excel.

Bottom line

These are just a few of the ways the Microsoft Office interacts with Office 365. We haven't looked at some really big ones like Office Web Apps and online presence provided by Lync Online, as well synchronization from SharePoint Workspace, integration with Access, Visio, and Infopath. But the point of this post isn't just to call out features that are available but rather to highlight how Office 365 lights-up Office to work in ways that aren't possible when working on single PC.

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13 comments
Brendan P
Brendan P

Office 365 is a great idea for a product. Unfortunately, it is not entirely ready for prime time, especially for small businesses. I tried it and dropped it. When it works it is very nice, when there is a problem, good luck unless you have dedicated in-house IT staff. Product documentation, such as it is, is keyed to enterprise customers. The services offered would be ideal for single-user or small businesses, but the documentation is "less than well-written" and on occasions actually inconsistent. The Microsoft support staff are well intentioned and considerate, but unfortunately inhabit a highly siloed organization. When there is a problem you get bounced around, and in my case mistakes were made by the staff and they openly disagreed on how to solve it. One "solution" actually made the situation worse. I finally gave up on them. Add that to the incompatibilities between Lync Online and Live meeting and I had to rate the experience with MS 365 as "less than professional quality." In passing one of my clients is a large multi-national who will switch from Live meeting to Lync when and if they see fit, so I am not going to tell them how and when to do things.

AttractBiz
AttractBiz

I was really looking forward to getting started with the new "Microsoft Office365," especially since I have been very happy with "OfficeLive," over the past several years. Unfortunately, there seems to be a "synchronization problem" within the Office365 technical staff. Two of their staffers seem to be bouncing my (seemingly minor) technical problem back and forth to no avail for more than a week now. This situation is preventing me from taking advantage of their offer to to transfer my old "OfficeLive" account to the new "Office365." Hopefully the will get this resolved before the April 30th deadline as I am still looking forward to making the transition.

cavehomme1
cavehomme1

On the entry level version of Office 365 which is exactly what a small business or independent professional needs, i find it remarkable that MS does not enable SSL on Sharepoint! All those valuable business documents can be captured in transit, and worse. This is clearly a cost decision, or a senseless omission, since it is available on the more expensive versions. This alone stops me from using Office 365 and recommending it to business colleagues and freelancers. It's amusing, and sad, that the better alternative in security and basic document management and sharing is actually....the free Windows Live Skydrive! Ha! The sooner MS resolve this major issue the better.

Trentski
Trentski

We have some clients on 365 and its a pain in the neck

sshull
sshull

Mark, Our company has transitioned from Google Apps for Business to Office 365. The main reason we switched involved the Sync tool for Outlook causing a lot of issues for our employees, with the two biggest being repeating meeting entries or missing meeting entries and issues receiving attachments. After scheduling any meeting, we would have to review to see who actually has the meeting in their calendar in Outlook. The next biggest thing was attachments caused the Sync tool to "hose up" (for a lack of better words), where even a 1mb attachment would prevent emails from coming in for 30+ minutes (sometimes hours). We had to manually go to our Inbox using GMail, download the attachment, and delete the email so that we could continue receiving emails in Outlook. As for Office 365, it addressed both of these, which was our primary concern. We've found it extremely simple to configure, with the small exception of a few things requiring PowerShell (which none of us had previous experience with). Lync is my favorite hidden gem because we had previously used Live Meeting and saw it simply as a replacement of that but it really is so much more. Internally we were using ShowMyPC to do screen sharing and Live Meeting to do presentations with clients and using Windows Messenger to communicate to each other. We were able to replace all of those in one product, and with them now allowing recording, we get it all without losing any functionality. Very broad I know but if you have any additional questions feel free to contact me. I would be happy to share our experiences. Thanks

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

At all. Everything is hosted On Site for my customers. Though to be perfectly honest this is Mandated by Compliance Regulations here more than anything else. Col

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

We have not covered Office 365 very much, but we are looking to change that. Do you use Office 365? What do you like about it? What do you dislike?

office365guy
office365guy

I agree that Microsoft needs to improve their implementation procedures and documentation for small businesses. However, once you understand the issues, it's really simple to setup and use. The hardest part is the domain validation issue which I dont think small businesses can mange without help. This is a real problem as its technical by nature, outside of Microsoft's control and it matters. A good partner or consultant can do this in a few minutes. Also agree about the silo'd comment. That's fact of life with them unfortunately. I certinaly do not agree however that it is less than professional quality service. For the price and the features set, it's unbeatable IMO and there are many many happy customers. That does not mean, however, your points are not valid. It's a good idea to devlope a good working relationship with an expert or two while they mature their UI and implementation processes. The cost benefits are worth it.

office365guy
office365guy

I agree that this is an issue for some small businesses. Others dont mind so much. A million or so in fact. However with the recent price drop from $10 to $8 for the E1 plan, you can have SSL and several other capabilites for $2 per user more. Also, if I had to say, I would suspec the SSL issues for P1 will change at some date, not sure when, but I know that Microsoft is aware of this is a roadblock to some customers.

cavehomme1
cavehomme1

Would be more helpful for everyone to hear some details rather than an empty comment.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

I think I'll have to set up an Office 365 account so I can see it for myself. I tried the beta and found it very functional.

boucaria
boucaria

I have been put in the situation of trying to find documents on the security of Office 365, and only one paper seems to exist by Osterman, and most of the papers are basically Microsof PR documents. The email and data is currently in one State, and the main server for Office 365 is in Washington State ( redmond ? ), and the backup server is in Virginia; so if one set of email and data legislation applies where the email and data exists now, does another apply where the main server is in Redmond, and another set in Virginia ?? Purely on technical grounds, just how at risk is the email and data in a southern state when it goes from the Southern State to Redmond, then is backed up to Virginia ? Seems like this has more foibles than Netflix which had no backup server, but the data and email in Netflix is not jettisoned around the country like a Hackers game of Mario Brothers. How does Microsoft take care of 50 states with 2 locations ? Seems like a data exfiltraters wet-dream...

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Security in Office 365 was never an issue just like Windows Originally it was designed to work and have High Availability not Security. Microsoft probably believe that they can tack on the Security Latter if it is ever required just like they tried to do with Windows and failed. Col

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