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Microsoft Whiteboard Collaboration App Released to Preview

Microsoft this week released a preview of a new Whiteboard app that lets office teams collaborate on a "digital canvas" that displays hand-written notes, images and drawings.

Microsoft is grooming this new Whiteboard app, which is downloadable from the Microsoft Store here, to be the successor of the existing whiteboard function in the Microsoft Surface Hub large-screen videoconferencing devices. It's possible to run both the Whiteboard app preview and the Surface Hub whiteboard application concurrently without conflict, according to Microsoft's FAQ page.

The Whiteboard app preview can be used for collaboration on projects with spread-out teams, such sharing product designs and mock-ups. Microsoft uses it for diagramming its engineering plans. The app is described as offering "real-time collaboration" so that everyone can see the changes being made.

The app comes with pen and ruler tools, sticky notes and the ability to drag-and-drop images on the screen. The images can even be stacked. The "intelligent ink" capability of Windows 10 will clean up hand-drawn images into standard shapes. The Whiteboard app preview automatically saves the whiteboards that get created, so they can be reviewed.

It's free to use the Whiteboard app preview. However, to save the whiteboards that get created, users have to be logged in with a Microsoft account or an Office 365 account (which can be a personal, work or school account). In addition, to collaborate with others, at least one Whiteboard app user needs to have an Office 365 account.

The Microsoft Whiteboard app preview, currently available only in English, requires Windows 10 or Windows 10 S and having integrated touch capabilities on the device. A pen device is recommended. The app will be available in other languages in "a few months," according to the FAQ. Microsoft expects it reach "general availability," or commercial release status, "in a few months."

At the preview stage, the Microsoft Whiteboard app isn't being pushed down to Office 365 subscribers. IT pros would have to enable the preview for their organization if they want it, as described in this support article. However, like a lot of Office 365 features, it'll eventually get pushed down to subscribers. Microsoft is promising to give a 30-day advance notice, though.

"We plan to take the app out of Preview and into General Availability in a few months, at which time it will be turned on by default for organizations," the FAQ explained. "We will give IT tenant admins 30 days' notice before this change."

Microsoft currently stores the data used by the Whiteboard app preview in the United States. It plans to expand storage later to other geographical regions.

About the Author

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