According to news sources including Neowin.net, Microsoft Office 365′s new edition will be released on January 29.
In previous articles, we have covered what new features are going to be available in the new edition in-depth from a technical standpoint, including the ability to program custom SharePoint applications using a number of common languages very familiar to developers. However these technical aspects are beyond the scope of this article, because the interests of our readers are the actual business uses for the new technologies including new functionality and its business impact.
Rumors have abounded for weeks, including speculation by highly respected Microsoft Reporter Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet and bloggers from Brazil. Originally, speculation was that the planned Microsoft launch on January 29 would be about the release of Windows 8 Phone operating system and equipment in countries like Brazil where they were not yet available. However, when speaking to our contacts in Brazil we were told that Microsoft was not in the habit of launching their new phone technologies directly in Brazil and other countries directly, but rather left these launches to their individual distributors in these countries. There was also the possibility of a launch of Surface Pro, so that was another reason to wait with the announcement of what the launch was about. We saw no benefit to announcing a launch without being certain of the content and impact for the end users. This author has been eagerly awaiting announcing this because of the new capabilities of Microsoft Office 2013 as well as new functionality in Microsoft Lync and SharePoint. However we have waited until we had more confirmation, and this came some ten hours ago.
We at the Web and I have been assured by Microsoft that all of the technologies and techniques available in the previous version of Office 365 would remain intact. Existing business processes will not be interrupted or affected. As a further safeguard for the proper and effective management of change in client organizations, the upgrade will not become mandatory until November. After the upgrade, new technologies and techniques will be available, but the Web and I can help with any re-training for changes and ensuring the continuity of existing business processes and workflows.
New technologies in SharePoint include the ability to create programs within SharePoint include both features for internal SharePoint intranet and extranet sites as well as the ability to create much more sophisticated public facing sites. That is just the tip of the iceberg, however, with Java and CSS becoming available, both branding and functional capabilities will increase. The Web and I will be helping many of our clients transition to sites that can help them create effective client portals, easing the workflow and communications between businesses and their clients. Minimal development costs will deliver tremendous ROI on this front. New business connectivity service capabilities in SharePoint will allow interfaces both inbound and outbound with SharePoint, making SharePoint the glue that binds newer and more streamlined business processes, saving a great deal of time and money on the way. Search improvements, improved Identity Management functionality, and granular security for content management will round out the most exciting new aspects of SharePoint 2013. Social computing for the workplace has also improved, but the utilization in the workplace is more applicable to larger enterprise users than to small and medium businesses. Our larger government clients such as Hunter College may be good candidates for increased use of social computing through SharePoint, but discussions on this matter have not yet commenced.
Lync has some exciting new developments which will greatly increase the functionality both for secure enterprise IM and for meetings with multiple users. A “Brady Bunch” style meeting will be possible, where all members of a meeting will be able to see all other members of a meeting tiled on their screens much as they did on the television show from the 1970′s. Unlike the show, however, they will be able to simultaneously edit the same document using Office Web Apps. Sporting a cleaner and more efficient interface with less “Chrome”, Lync will become easier to see and control as well as gaining these new functionalities. Persistent chat rooms and topics can be created, which can help smaller teams collaborate more effectively, even in disparate locations with disparate working hours. Asynchronous communication has become increasingly important in the global workforce, and Microsoft has given businesses greater potential for effective global expansion with these tools. Tabbed conversations will enable users to communicate more effectively with multiple users by allowing them to do so in one window with tabs instead of the usual many windows of the current edition of Lync. New video features including one-click start will be available, which is an excellent tool for managers to maintain a presence with their direct reports in disparate locations. Lync layouts will have many more options than they do now, and we will report on these once we get to test them. Lync mobile users will have added functionality including the possibility of video chat. No longer will employees be inaccessible anywhere, as long as they are provided with a Windows phone.
Exchange Server 2013 also holds great new possibilities for making the use of E-Mail more efficient. New built-in social features will allow users to have better control over conversations and related E-Mails, which will save users a great deal of time by not forcing them to continually search E-Mail for related items and persons. Users will be able to merge contacts from different E-Mail addresses so that they can be consolidated into a single contact, saving a great deal of time and confusion in the process. The great new streamlined look of Outlook will also save users time, so employers will benefit from less time being wasted on employee navigation of E-Mail, which is currently a serious cause of wasted time and money. Seamless integration with Lync will bring E-Mail, meetings, and Enterprise IM together in one place, saving even more employee time and effort. In addition to these time savings, we anticipate there will be a great savings in worker frustration. Often worker frustration with technology both new and existing leads to poor performance, and having a more seamless and well-designed interface and functional approach will lead to happier and more productive workers.
We at the Web and I are ready to help make this change happen for you starting in as little as ten days. Being the first Microsoft Partner in the United States to announce this detailed news helps set us ahead of the crowd. We want to help all of our clients make the best decisions, and we will discover with you on your own time what works and does not work for you. To find out more just call us today at 646-853-0573.