Microsoft Rolls Out January Updates to Office 365

Office 365 subscribers saw several new improvements from Microsoft this month.

For starters, consumer Office 365 subscribers using Excel, PowerPoint or Word on Windows devices can now preview a new "activity feed" feature. It lets them see the history of documents stored via the consumer OneDrive storage service, including when document changes were made. This feature is already available to commercial Office 365 subscribers using Windows devices, Microsoft's announcement indicated.

In addition, Office Lens, an application for mobile devices that makes it easier to crop and store readable photo images from blackboards or whiteboards using Microsoft's OneNote clipping application, is getting enhanced for use with other Office applications. Office Lens now works with PowerPoint and Word on Android devices, Microsoft's announcement indicated. Microsoft is planning integration with Excel, too, but no timeline was described. The Office Lens application currently works with Windows Mobile, Android and iOS devices.

Microsoft also announced the expansion of its Office Insider testing program to iPad and iPhone users. The public has to request an invitation to this limited program. Details are described in this Microsoft blog post.

Outlook Group Send Options
In related news, Microsoft's Exchange team announced on Tuesday that its Outlook e-mail application has two new messaging options for organizations that can simplify communications with external recipients. Messages can be sent from a group in the organization using the "send on behalf" option or the "send as" option. These two options are designed to make it easier for organizations using Outlook to deliver support to external customers.

One advantage of using these send options for organizations is that external recipients will see a general group address that they can reply to. If the external recipient replies to a message sent via these group options, then any member of the group can respond. Microsoft also conceives of these send options as being useful for internal groups where one person in an organization doesn't want to get overloaded by replies.

IT pros have to turn on these send options for Outlook. It gets done using the Exchange Admin Center, as described here.

Office 365 Germany Goes Live
In other news, Microsoft announced the "general availability" of Office 365 Germany this week. It's Microsoft's datacenter facility for delivering Office 365 services that's designed to meet privacy, compliance and legal restrictions (such as in-country data storage requirements) of "Germany, the European Union (EU), and the European Free Trade Association," Microsoft explained, in an announcement. The center employs a separate data trustee, T-Systems International, a subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom, that controls access to customer data.

The new Office 365 services in Germany come on top of Azure services already offered from Microsoft's datacenters in "Frankfurt/Main and Magdeburg, Germany," the announcement added. Power BI services also are currently available from "Microsoft Cloud Germany."

Dynamics 365 services will be arriving in Germany sometime "in the first half of this year," Microsoft indicated.

About the Author

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


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