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Microsoft Releases Office 365 Planner Preview

Microsoft on Monday announced the preview release of its Office 365 Planner solution to "first release" beta testers.

Office 365 Planner is a new addition coming to some Office 365 subscription plans. Introduced in September, Office 365 Planner is designed to make it easy to create plans and assign tasks to personnel within an organization. The progress of those plans can then be tracked using charts and graphs.

Possibly, Office 365 Planner is Microsoft's solution that aims to replace or supplement SharePoint Tasks, adding a more simplified way to accomplish lightweight project management tasks. At least that's an early view expressed by Microsoft MVP Christian Buckley.

While this new Office 365 Planner solution is starting to roll out for first-release testers, it apparently requires some setup efforts first from IT pros to get it going. Here's how Microsoft described that circumstance:

Office 365 administrators who have opted into First Release will receive an email with instructions on how to set up the preview once it is available for their tenancy. Once administrators take the necessary actions, users can start using Planner by launching it from the Office 365 app launcher.

Office 365 Planner works via a Board and Card concept. The Board is considered to be the basis of a plan. A Card represents a task or work item within a Board. There's also a Hub view that shows the overall progress of the plan. The Hub shows the number of tasks to be completed within a time period. Also shown are the task assignees, as well as those who are behind schedule.

One of the forces behind the Office 365 Planner solution is Microsoft's Groups capability in Office 365, which is an underlying service that's used to surface information about people and resources within an organization. When a plan is created using the Office 365 Planner, it automatically creates an Office 365 Group. Conversely, each Office 365 Group gets a plan capability.

The preview rollout of Office 365 Planner will take place over the next few weeks, according to Microsoft's announcement. A "general availability" commercial release of Office 365 Planner is expected to arrive sometime next year for "all eligible Office 365 commercial and education customers," the announcement added.

The Office 365 plans that are eligible to use the Office 365 Planner solution include Office 365 Enterprise plans E1, E3, E4 and E5, as well as Education E3 and E4 plans. Office 365 Business Premium and Office 365 Business Essentials plans also can tap the new solution.

Microsoft claims that its Office 365 Planner solution is being designed to meet various compliance standards. Those standards include "HIPAA, FISMA, ISO27001 and EU Model compliance."

Microsoft additionally announced this week that it released a couple of audit assessment reports for Office 365, based on ISO27001 and ISO27018 standards. The reports were conducted by "independent third-party auditors" who assessed security and privacy controls for Office 365 services.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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