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Microsoft Rolls Out 'Delve' for Office 365 in Limited Release

Delve, formerly code-named "Oslo," became available to select Office 365 subscribers on Monday.

Delve is Microsoft's new social networking search-and-discovery app for Office 365. The app gathers information from various Microsoft applications, making it easier for users to find content and connect with people and schedules. It's based on Microsoft's Office Graph technology, which company officials have described as an "information fabric" that works across Office 365 app silos. Office Graph currently can pull information from Exchange Online e-mail, SharePoint Online (including the OneDrive cloud storage service) and Yammer enterprise social networking.

Delve itself is built on FAST enterprise search technology that Microsoft bought in 2008.

The Delve user interface is "card"-like in appearance (see image), but it uses machine learning technology behind the scenes to automatically pull information together that may be relevant to a particular user. Supposedly, this scheme also makes it easier for users to find files without having to remember where they are stored. The information is based on associations between "people, content and activity" across Office 365 applications, according to Microsoft's Delve announcement.

[Click on image for larger view.] Microsoft's Delve app for Office 365. (Source: Microsoft)

Delve works with Windows Azure Active Directory, so users are restricted to the permissions that are set up there.

Office 365 customers with E1 through E4 business plans will get access to Delve at no extra cost, including academic and government users, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, via a phone call. The completed Delve product is being rolled out to Microsoft's "first release" testers first, but final delivery to all Office 365 customers is expected to be completed by "early 2015," according to the spokesperson.

Microsoft demonstrated Delve at its SharePoint Conference in March and it has been undergoing testing since that time. According to an Office 365 roadmap approach that Microsoft described in June, so-called first release testers get their hands on new Office 365 features at least two weeks before standard Office 365 users. Though Delve is now a finished product, it's being rolled out gradually.

In the "coming months," Microsoft plans to add further integration to Delve. It will add Delve connections to "e-mail attachments, OneNote and Lync," according to Microsoft's announcement.

In a future release, APIs will be available to developers and Microsoft partners, according to the Microsoft spokesperson. Those APIs will enable developers to build on Delve.

Besides Delve, Microsoft has a couple of other Office 365 developments in the works. One is a new Groups capability that Microsoft announced back in March. Groups is a Yammer social networking capability that is being extended to work across Office 365 apps, such as Exchange Online and SharePoint Online. The Groups capability is described by Microsoft as automatically provisioning Yammer conversations, calendars and document libraries so that people can work as a team.

The second Office 365 development still to come is a new video portal capability. It purportedly lets organizations categorize videos for public access. Users can then access the videos from various mobile devices, with all of the provisioning details handled by Office 365.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.