Enterprise Software

Microsoft surprises subscribers with the release of the To-Do app for Office 365

The simplicity of the to-do-list appeals to many employees. Microsoft has just released its version of this venerable organizational tool for Office 365.

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Image: iStock/Cn0ra

Although the standard operating procedure for the modern enterprise, at least as Microsoft sees it, may revolve around the mantra of a collaborative workforce performing its assigned tasks in a mobile-first, cloud-first world, the fact is that every single person still has be organized and accountable for their own working day. No matter how collaborative you are, you still have to show up when you are supposed to and you must accomplish tasks within a budget and by a certain time.

Many people use a daily to-do list system to keep themselves on task, which is all well and good—but in a mobile environment they need modern tools to make it work effectively. Slapping sticky notes on your monitor is not going to be nearly good enough.

For many years, Microsoft Outlook, part of the Office 365 productivity suite, has had a rudimentary task list that was less than satisfactory and often ignored by users. However, with the widespread release of To-Do for Office 365 subscribers, Microsoft hopes to change our perception of the task list and reignite the to-do-list system as a viable organizational tool for enterprise employees.

SEE: Cost comparison calculator: G Suite vs. Office 365 (Tech Pro Research)

To Do

Unless turned off by the admin, every Office 365 subscriber should now have access to the new To-Do app—just scroll down the list of apps until you find it. The app itself is simple and straightforward. List the tasks you want to accomplish and then check them off as you complete them.

However, a few underlying features make the To-Do app especially appropriate for an enterprise customer. First off, the app is designed from the start to be a mobile app. There are versions for Android, Apple iOS, and Windows.

Second, the app uses the power of cloud computing to replicate the status of the list to all your devices. You can make changes to the task list in Outlook at your workstation and it will propagate to all the devices you use during the day to access it. By tying the new app to the Outlook email app, which is so familiar to Microsoft Office users, the developers have given To-Do functionality that should make it useful to many more enterprise employees.

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Bottom line

The simplicity of the to-do list is appealing to many enterprise employees, but that doesn't mean it can't also be a robust tool for a mobile workforce. The new Microsoft To-Do app, with its ties to the rest of the Office 365 productivity suite and its built-in access to cloud services, is a viable alternative to specialized third-party apps offered by competitors.

It is important to note that the concept of to-do lists won't appeal to all enterprise employees. This fact points to an interesting part of Microsoft's overall strategy when it comes to Office 365.

Microsoft does not want to establish a default way to operate an enterprise productivity suite. Instead, it wants to offer as many options as it possibly can so that every enterprise can mold Office 365 to its preferred operating style, even if that style changes over time. It is the only long-term strategy that will keep Office 365 viable.

If you have employees who prefer to use to-do lists as an organizational tool, you should consider Microsoft To-Do. After all, it is already included in your subscription.

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About Mark Kaelin

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.

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