Some of the best ideas, business-related or otherwise, have come from a group of motivated, brainstorming people gathered in a conference room eating pizza in front of a whiteboard. The collective exchange of free form ideas seems to stimulate creative thought like no other collaborative exercise and is a common and proven practice in many business enterprises.
Of course, the mobile and dispersive nature of business these days means that many teams are unable to gather in a single location to toss ideas at a physical whiteboard. This is where technology steps in with mobile-aware devices and systems that allow team members to meet and collaborate with a digital version of the common whiteboard—unfortunately, it's also bring your own pizza.
On May 23, 2018, Microsoft announced that its version of the digital whiteboard would be rolling out of its public preview and released as full-fledged product. Sometime during the summer of 2018, the updated version of the Digital Whiteboard for Windows 10 app will be made available for download from the Microsoft Store.
To allow access to the Whiteboard app, Office 365 admins will have to enable it and users will have to download it. This article explains how to enable access and how to find the Whiteboard app in the Microsoft Store.
SEE: Comparison chart: Enterprise collaboration tools (Tech Pro Research)
Enable access in Office 365
The switch that allows access to the preview version of the Whiteboard is buried deep in the Office 365 Admin Center settings menu and it is set to Off by default. Once the app is released from preview, that setting's default will be changed to On, and users will then have permission to download and install the Whiteboard app. If your organization does not what that to happen for whatever reason, the switch must be changed back to Off.
Open and log into Office 365 and open the Admin Center. Navigate to and then expand the Settings menu item and click on Services & ad-ins. At the bottom of that lists of links you will find the Whiteboard setting page. When you click it, you should see a control panel that looks similar to Figure A.
Change the settings on or off depending on your preference. Note that the setting will be set to On when the Digital Whiteboard is designated to be out of public preview.
Find the Whiteboard app
While subject to change, the only way users can get the Whiteboard app is to download it from the Microsoft Store. For some reason, this app is not going to be part of the normal Office 365 suite of productivity applications—at least initially.
To find the app, open the Microsoft Store, navigate to the Apps section and search for the term "Microsoft Whiteboard." The top entry in the results should be the app you are looking for, click it and you should arrive at the download page (Figure B).
Click the Get button and the app will download and install in less than a minute. You can pin the Whiteboard app to the Taskbar or the Start Menu and launch it for your next brainstorming session. Who knows what great ideas you and your team can come up with using the power of this technology (Figure C).
- Samsung Flip is a Minority Report-esque whiteboard to boost meeting productivity (TechRepublic)
- Throw out the whiteboard: 3 ways to improve the technical interview (TechRepublic)
- How to choose a workplace communication and collaboration tool (TechRepublic)
- Survey confirms collaboration and the apps that come with it still suck (ZDNet)
- Microsoft opens up its Windows 10 Whiteboard app for public preview (ZDNet)
What great ideas has your team come up with using a whiteboard? Share your thoughts and opinions with your peers at TechRepublic in the discussion thread below.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.