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New to Office 365 in June—Microsoft Planner general availability, inking on Android devices, security features for Office 365 and more

11 hours 46 min ago

Today’s post was written by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.

June has been another busy month of updates across our Office apps on Windows, Mac, iOS and Android. We reached new milestones for Microsoft Planner and GigJam. We are also introducing Office 365 Advanced Security Management, new datacenter regions and the next cumulative feature update to Office 2016.

Office inking works on more devices and apps

In January, we added new inking capabilities to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote on Windows desktops and iPad. This was another step forward in making writing and drawing with your finger, pen or stylus more intuitive and powerful as a primary input in Office apps. This month we expanded inking on Android devices beyond OneNote to Word, Excel and PowerPoint for Office Insiders. Inking is also now available in Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Windows Phones and is coming to iPhone next month.

Inking is now available in Office on Android tablets and phones.

We’re expanding Shape Recognition to Excel on Windows PCs and Excel for iPad, and it will arrive in Excel for iPhone with next month’s inking release. Shape Recognition transforms rough hand-drawn shapes to perfect looking shapes, which in Excel can be used to easily build attractive dashboards, create custom button links and more. Shape Recognition in PowerPoint will expand beyond PCs and iPad to also be available on iPhone next month. Shape Recognition for Word is coming soon.

Shape Recognition in Excel makes it easy to create shapes for custom dashboards and more.

For the desktop, we brought the Draw tab and instant inking to Visio for subscribers on Windows PCs. You can now easily annotate and draw your feedback on complex diagrams and process flows. We’re also addressing a top OneNote for Mac user request with a phased rollout of trackpad-based inking, plus support for third-party stylus- and pen-enabled drawing tablets and displays.

OneNote for Mac is rolling out support for inking.

New Sway capabilities for Office 365 subscribers

Sway is a digital storytelling app that makes it easy and enjoyable to create and share visually striking presentations, newsletters, personal blogs and more. Sway became generally available last August, and since then we’ve been excited to see the creativity expressed in the millions of Sways made by professionals, students, personal bloggers and more. Now, beyond the free version of Sway, Office 365 consumer, work and education subscribers can create more robust, professional Sways and control sharing more granularly with these three new features:

  • Password-protect your Sways—Control who can view your Sways by adding password protection. On top of organizational-level sharing for Office 365 work and school users, anyone with an Office 365 account can add password protection for extra security and peace of mind.
  • Higher content limits—Create longer, more robust Sways containing more images, videos, graphics and more. This is great for longer-form content such as company trainings, student projects and travel reports.
  • Remove end-of-Sway footer—To customize the appearance of your content even more, you can now remove the informational footer at the end of your Sways.

Office 365 subscribers can now create more robust Sways and add password protection.

Stay on top of your travel and deliveries with Outlook

We’re adding new experiences in Outlook to help you stay on top of your travel plans and package deliveries. Outlook already automatically adds events from your email to your calendar. Soon you’ll see simplified summary cards for those events in your inbox and calendar, highlighting the most important details. You’ll be able to take quick action to check in for flights, change hotel reservations and track packages. And you’ll get dependable and actionable reminders to stay on top of flight check-ins. These experiences have started rolling out to Outlook for Mac and Outlook on the web. They will be coming soon to Windows, iOS and Android, as well as the Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps. Learn more about these new travel and delivery experiences.

Outlook is starting to roll out new travel and delivery experiences to help you stay on top of your plans and packages.

Microsoft Planner is generally available

Microsoft Planner has started rolling out to all eligible Office 365 commercial customers worldwide. Planner introduces a new and improved way for businesses, schools and organizations to structure teamwork and get more done. Teams can create new plans; organize, assign and collaborate on tasks; set due dates; update statuses and share files—all while visual dashboards and email notifications help with progress tracking. Read more about Planner, including customer stories. Get started with Planner in a few easy steps.

GigJam Preview is now open to all

Earlier this month, we announced the broad availability of the GigJam Preview to everyone on Windows, Mac, iPhone and iPad. GigJam is for people with a co-working mindset. It empowers you to spontaneously and ephemerally involve others in your work. Summon all the live information you need from across apps, then divvy it up by circling what you want to share and crossing out what you don’t. Control what others—inside or outside your organization—can see or even co-work on with you in real-time. Visit aka.ms/gigjam and the App Store to get started, and share feedback in UserVoice. We’ll continue to update GigJam based on your input. We’re targeting general availability as part of Office 365 for later this year.

New Deferred Channel build, Office 365 regions and security capabilities for commercial customers

This month we have a number of updates for our commercial subscribers that provide more flexibility, manageability and control for their organizations:

  • New Deferred Channel buildThe second Office 365 Deferred Channel build is now available. This build effectively combines the February Office 2016 release with the last four months of security updates. The Deferred Channel option reduces the frequency of feature changes to the Windows desktop apps and provides IT with extra time to validate add-ins, macros, custom line-of-business applications, etc. Learn more about what’s included in this month’s release in the Office 365 Client Release Notes.
  • Office 365 datacenters in Canada and South Korea—Embrace a cloud-first world on your terms. A new Office 365 datacenter region is now generally available in Canada, offering in-country data residency, failover and disaster recovery for core data at rest to customers in Canada. We will also expand the Microsoft Cloud to include a datacenter region in South Korea. These new datacenter regions join a growing list that includes Japan, Australia and India, as well as recent announcements of expansions in the UK and Germany.
  • Office 365 Advanced Security Management—Earlier this month, we introduced Advanced Security Management, a new set of capabilities powered by Microsoft Cloud App Security, to provide enhanced visibility and control over your Office 365 environment. Monitor security incidents and identify high-risk and abnormal usage with threat detection. Tailor Office 365 with granular controls and security policies. Gain visibility into Office 365 and other productivity cloud service usage with an app discovery dashboard.

Watch this episode of “From Inside the Cloud” for more details:

Learn more about what’s new for Office 365 subscribers this month at: Office 2016 | Office for Mac | Office Mobile for Windows | Office for iPhone and iPad | Office on Android. If you’re an Office 365 Home or Personal customer, be sure to sign up for Office Insider to be the first to use the latest in Office productivity. Commercial customers on both Current Channel and Deferred Channel can also get early access to a fully supported build through First Release. Thanks for your continued feedback and support!

—Kirk Koenigsbauer

The post New to Office 365 in June—Microsoft Planner general availability, inking on Android devices, security features for Office 365 and more appeared first on Office Blogs.

Stay on top of your travel and deliveries with Outlook

11 hours 47 min ago

Places to go, people to see. Pack your bags.

Travel can be stressful, even when you’re planning to go somewhere for fun. Staying on top of travel plans and package deliveries can become time-consuming and a hassle.

First, Outlook began automatically adding events from your email to your calendar. Now, we have more new experiences to help you stay on top of your travel plans and package deliveries, including the ability to:

  • Verify your travel reservations and package delivery details with ease using simplified summary cards in your inbox and calendar.
  • Check in for flights, change hotel and rental car reservations or track packages at the touch of a button.
  • Stay on top of your flights with reliable reminders.

These features are rolling out to Outlook for Mac and Outlook on the web today and will soon be coming to Windows, iOS and Android, as well as the Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps.

Smarter email, simpler reservations

Travel itinerary emails are complicated to read because they contain so much more than just your reservation. It especially gets complicated when the itinerary includes multiple flights, hotel reservations and rental car confirmations. Outlook now displays the most important information from travel itineraries and puts them in an easily readable summary on top of your email.

Quick actions at your fingertips (or a click of your mouse)

In addition to helping you see your travel plans at a glance, the summary cards provide you with quick actions for the key things you need to do. No more hunting for the check-in link in a long confirmation email or trying to find where to change your hotel reservation. It’s now just a tap or click away in the summary card above the email to go directly to the provider’s specific web page for the action.

All your travel info, automatically added to your calendar

In addition to smarter email experiences, Outlook automatically adds travel events to your calendar with the same summary cards for each step of your trip detected in the reservations. The events include everything you need to know, such as date, time, locations, confirmation number and a few other key pieces of info you might need at your fingertips. You can go to the original booking email with a single click from the calendar event in case you need to look up more details.

Travel updates and cancellations happen—for good or not so good reasons. Either way, Outlook automatically keeps the events on your calendar updated with new information from your travel provider.

Helpful check-in reminders to keep you on time

Timing is everything and it can mean the difference between getting the seat you want or settling for one you really don’t want. Not all airlines are great at notifying and reminding you when it’s time to check in for your flight. Outlook will always send you a reminder email exactly 24 hours in advance with a link to the airline’s check-in experience. What’s more, you can set an Uber ride reminder so you always get to airport on time.

And three hours before your flight takes off, we’ll remind you again, so you can plan to be at the airport on time.

And never miss package deliveries!

We know travel is not the only thing you need to keep track of, so we are also adding package tracking experiences. When you receive a shipping confirmation email, we’ll summarize the most important info in a card above the email and automatically add an event to your calendar (for non-commercial accounts) to provide quick actions.

Share your feedback

We’re eager to hear your feedback and any suggestions that you’d like to see in Outlook. Joining the conversation on Outlook is easy—visit Outlook.UserVoice.com and sign in with your Microsoft account to leave your feedback.

—The Outlook team

Frequently asked questions

Q. When will these features be available?

A. We’ve started the roll out in North America and will be expanding globally next. Some Outlook on the web and Outlook for Mac users will see these features today. If you don’t, you can expect to see them soon.

Q. Which users have access to these features?

A. These experiences will be available for users with Office 365 subscriptions that include Exchange Online and those users with new or upgraded Outlook.com accounts.

Q. What do I need to do to start using these features?

A. There is nothing you need to do. The features will automatically start working in your Office 365 account or your new Outlook.com account when you receive a travel reservation or package delivery email from a supported provider.

Q. What settings are available for the automatic calendaring feature?

A. In Outlook on the web, click the Settings (gear) icon, Options and then Calendar. The settings are in “Events from Email.” Changing the setting on the web will change all Outlook clients. Travel events are on by default for all account types. Package delivery events are on by default for Outlook.com accounts, but not for commercial accounts.

Q. If I share my calendar with someone, will they see my flight information?

A. Only if you want them to. The events are marked private by default, so the details will not be visible to someone with whom you shared your calendar. You can change the default in the Settings mentioned above.

The post Stay on top of your travel and deliveries with Outlook appeared first on Office Blogs.

3 new Sway capabilities for Office 365 subscribers

11 hours 48 min ago

In the 10 months since Sway’s general availability, we’ve seen great interest in our digital storytelling app, with millions of Sways created to date! We’ve seen music companies, design firms and small businesses use Sway for company presentations, client pitches and employee newsletters. We’ve watched teachers use Sway to advance student learning in dynamic and engaging ways in their classrooms. And Sway has become an easy and enjoyable way to share travel, dining and personal experiences with others.

We make sure to listen to the Sway community and continually add relevant and enjoyable experiences for you. As we work toward this goal, we are excited to release three new features for Office 365 consumer, work and education subscribers based on feedback we’ve heard from you. These features are now available in Sway on the web, and they will roll out to the Sway app for Windows 10 in the coming months.

Add passwords to Sways

Previously, Office 365 work and education customers have been able to limit sharing of Sways at the organizational level, so that only people in your company or school can view your creations. Starting today, all Office 365 subscribers can add an extra layer of privacy by setting passwords for your Sways. This ensures that only people with the password can view your work presentations, school reports or travel journals.

Enjoy enhanced content limits

We received numerous requests to be able to put more text, photos and other content in your Sways. And our own data shows us that our Office 365 subscribers typically create longer and more robust Sways with higher amounts of videos, tweets and other embedded content. So we’ve worked to increase the content limits for Office 365 subscribers so you can create longer-form works with more multimedia to convey a richer story in the boardroom, the classroom or your home.

Remove the informational footer in Sway

Finally, we’re enabling all Office 365 subscribers to remove the informational footer at the end of your Sway to help you achieve a more polished look. You can now tap the Share icon and uncheck the Show Sway branding in this Sway checkbox to create a more professional look for your creations.

The Sway team is excited to provide ongoing value to our Office 365 subscribers and will continue adding new, exclusive Sway features over time. To learn more about monthly updates released across the Office apps for Office 365 subscribers, check out the New to Office 365 in June blog post. As always, we value your feedback and ideas, so please keep them coming in our Sway UserVoice.

Get Sway | Follow Sway

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Polycom dials up business value using Office 365

12 hours 46 min ago

Today’s Microsoft Office 365 post was written by Luc Trudel, vice president of IT Infrastructure and Operations at Polycom.

Collaboration lies at the heart of everything we do at Polycom, both in terms of the innovative products we create and the essence of how we work. Our business involves building the best in video, voice and content collaboration and communication technology. So the very nature of our business shows how critical we believe teamwork to be.

We reach across business units and geographical boundaries to make sure that all the products we develop work well together. Sometimes that means collaborating on common foundational aspects such as coding standards or interfaces. Other times we’re coming together to ensure cohesive global marketing and sales. Regardless, we have to keep information flowing among our employees, our contract manufacturers and other supply chain partners so that we deliver integrated products that offer maximum value to our customers.

In the global war for talent, one way we make sure that we’re staying at the top of our industry is by hiring and retaining the best talent out there. To do that in today’s business world, you need to offer flexibility. That’s why our philosophy is to support a fully mobile workforce—not just by providing tools to be productive from anywhere, but also by making it possible for our employees to live where they’re happy living, whether we have an office there or not. Nearly 20 percent of our current workforce does not work in a Polycom office, and we remain an attractive employer because of that level of flexibility.

Of course, it’s then incumbent upon our IT department to give employees truly effective tools they can use to contribute to the overall success of the company. That’s one of the reasons we’ve invested in Microsoft Office 365. Moving to the cloud is all about marshalling IT resources and delivering useful services and capabilities to our workforce. We wanted to be agile and focus on value-added IT services as opposed to managing lots of infrastructure and datacenters.

There are other options out there for cloud infrastructure, but at Polycom, we already have extremely tight integration with Microsoft at a company level, and we wanted to make the most of that. Plus, although other options like Google Apps seem interesting on the surface, there are a lot of hidden “gotchas.” For example, you have to run parallel systems, maintain your directory structure separately and worry about generating a tremendous number of hooks into your other enterprise systems, because Google simply doesn’t have them. And perhaps most important, there is the training element. It’s easy to build a cost justification based on subscriptions or hardware, but ultimately what really makes the biggest difference is whether the users are happy. With Office 365, we can provide employees with the capabilities that they’re familiar with, with little or no training necessary, and they easily—and willingly—make the switch to using cloud services.

We recently took a step toward even greater collaborative productivity and flexibility when we added the most comprehensive Office 365 suite. We saw how Advanced eDiscovery and the enhanced security feature set, including Advanced Threat Protection, will improve our risk profile. While using Microsoft Delve Analytics for team-based intelligence, we can easily discover trends to help us create and deliver terrific products to our customers in a more seamless way. That’s not to mention all the cloud-based Skype for Business advancements—such as PSTN Conferencing, PSTN Calling and Cloud PBX—which are important to us because so many of the products that we make tie into Skype for Business.

By adopting Office 365, we’re delivering greater value to the business. I’ve been working in IT for about three decades, and I’ve never been as excited as I am now about the possibilities. We’re quickly able to give employees the services they need to harness the best ideas, work together to establish the best processes and connect our workforce, all of which supports Polycom as we continue to push the envelope in collaboration technology.

—Luc Trudel

To better understand how Polycom is using Office 365, read the full story.

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Sell smarter and faster with the new Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in

15 hours 46 min ago

Modern sales reps rely on two tools above all others—Customer Relational Management (CRM) to manage sales opportunities and email to communicate with contacts. Yet, CRM and email have traditionally been disconnected tools, and sales reps have had to spend valuable time toggling between these apps. Whether it’s manually adding contacts or calendar events from email to CRM or having to move back and forth between email and CRM when looking up and updating a CRM entry based on an email thread, a lot of precious time and effort is spent on these administrative activities.

The new Lightning for Outlook add-in is designed to help reduce this pain by giving you the ability to search, view and update all Salesforce CRM entries associated with your email contacts right from Outlook, increasing productivity and helping you save time, so you can focus on the selling. Using Lightning Sync, you can automatically sync contacts and calendar events from your email to your CRM, so you don’t have spend your time manually adding them. Soon you will also be able to add custom sales apps directly into Outlook, creating permanent shortcuts for tasks like updating a price quote using SteelBrick. The Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in and capabilities are available to Outlook users across Windows, Mac and the web and is coming soon to Outlook Mobile.

Microsoft and Salesforce are committed to bringing joint solutions to help people and organizations achieve more. Customers like Accenture, BMC Software and Unilever are already leveraging some of these solutions to stay more productive than ever. Learn more about how the Salesforce and Microsoft partnership can help your business at the Salesforce blog.

 

Frequently asked questions

Q. What versions of Outlook and Exchange are required to access the Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in? Do I require a Salesforce subscription to use the add-in?

A. To access the Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in, you will need Outlook 2013 for Windows, Outlook 2016 for Windows, Outlook 2016 for Mac or Outlook on the web with either Office 365, Exchange 2013 or Exchange 2016 mailboxes. It is coming soon to Outlook Mobile.

You also require a Salesforce subscription to use the add-in. Detailed availability as per below:

  • Lightning for Outlook is generally available today via the Office Store at no additional cost to Sales Cloud users.
  • Lightning Sync is generally available today at no additional cost to users with a Sales Cloud Lightning Enterprise edition and up.
  • Lightning Components Framework in Outlook will be generally available in Fall 2016. Pricing will be announced at that time.

Q. Is Lightning for Outlook available worldwide?

A. Yes, the add-in is available worldwide to all Salesforce customers with the necessary licenses.

Q. How do I install the Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in?

A. If you have a valid Salesforce subscription, you can install and access the add-in using the steps below:

  1. In Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2016 for Windows, click Store from the Home tab on the ribbon. In Outlook on the web, click the gear icon (top right) and select Manage Add-ins. (Outlook 2016 for Mac users should install via Outlook on the web.)
  2. In the search bar on the top right, type Salesforce.
  3. When the search returns the Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in, set the toggle to On to install the add-in. The add-in will appear in the Command bar ribbon on the top.

Note: Some users in Outlook 2013 may not see the new in-client store UI above. For these users, follow the steps below:

  1. Click Salesforce Lightning for Outlook from the Home tab on the ribbon and then click Manage Add-ins.
  2. In the Manage Add-ins page, click the + sign and then select the Salesforce for Outlook add-in from the Office Store.
  3. Click the Add button to begin installation.

Q. Is the new Lightning Experience required to access Lightning for Outlook?

A. No, you do not need Lightning Experience to access the Lightning for Outlook add-in.

The post Sell smarter and faster with the new Salesforce Lightning for Outlook add-in appeared first on Office Blogs.

Microsoft Planner hands-on demonstration

Mon, 06/27/2016 - 09:00

Earlier this month, we launched Microsoft Planner, which offers you a simple and visual way to organize teamwork. There are different ways we all get work done and until recently Microsoft has had solutions on two ends of the spectrum. Tools like Wunderlist or Outlook help manage your personal task lists, while Project or Project Online can be used to manage projects that require scheduling, prioritization, resource management, timesheets and integration with Line of Business systems. The middle ground is where Planner fits in, and it’s designed for structured team collaboration. For example, you can use Planner to manage events, office moves, user training or other team projects.

Today, we take a deeper look at Microsoft Planner—a new experience in Office 365 to organize work, manage and assign tasks and collaborate within your teams. Sajan Parihar and I go hands-on and show you how to use Planner—including integrated experiences across Office 365.

In the show, we demonstrate where to find Planner, how to get started with creating plans, assigning tasks and the things you can do while working through a plan. We walk through the integrated experiences with Office 365 Groups, board and chart views to visualize tasks and monitor progress—and finally what the team is building in the coming months.

To learn more and see this in action, watch the video and keep giving us your feedback at our UserVoice site.

See you soon,

Jeremy Chapman

The post Microsoft Planner hands-on demonstration appeared first on Office Blogs.

Office 365 news roundup

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 13:30

Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s most famous inventors, statesmen and self-made men, clearly understood that people learn best by doing. That’s one reason why at Microsoft we make Office 365 intuitive and easy to use. We know that the more you use Office 365 to actually do things, the more quickly you will learn and derive value from its many features and applications.

Several announcements over the past couple of weeks show how we consistently work to provide opportunities for you and your colleagues to get involved with Office 365 in ways that will benefit you and your business.

For Office 365 administrators, the new version of the Office 365 admin app will make it easier and more efficient for you to manage your company’s service from your smartphone when you’re away from the office. And speaking of mobile technology, the new SharePoint mobile app lets you put your intranet in your pocket and take it along, wherever you go. The new app provides quick access to your team sites, company portals and resources, and helps you stay up to speed on collaborative projects. We also explained how Microsoft Power BI in Office 365 can help sales representatives gain insights, avoid missed opportunities and close more deals by making it easier for them to collect, unify and visualize all of their data in one place.

Learning by doing is of course powerful and valuable for educators, as well. We recently announced new Office 365 experiences and updates that will make it easier for teachers to manage their classrooms and collaborate with their peers. Teachers will soon be able to customize Office 365 Groups to create professional learning communities, where they can share expertise and collaborate on ways to improve their teaching skills and students’ academic performance. With Docs.com, they will be able to create attractive online portfolios for their Office documents, and Microsoft Forms will make it easier for teachers to assess student progress and provide real-time personalized feedback.

Take time to look a little more deeply into Office 365 and learn more about what it can do—and what you can do with it. After all, as Ben Franklin said on another occasion, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

Below is a roundup of some key news items from the last couple of weeks. Enjoy!

Minnesota school district starts the school year right with the help of Microsoft FastTrack—Learn why the Austin Public School District chose Office 365 when teachers asked for more flexible tools, easier network access and better communication with colleagues and students.

Telefónica uses Yammer to stay engaged, aligned and more competitive—Discover how Telefónica is using Yammer, the enterprise social network platform in Microsoft Office 365, to become a global community of engaged employees.

Empowering attorneys and staff with Office 365 helps Kelley Drye transform into a digital workplace—Find out how Office 365 is revolutionizing professional collaboration at this global law firm.

Microsoft adding more teacher-focused Office 365 Education updates—Learn about recent features and updates that Microsoft has added to Office 365 to help teachers.

20 amazing features in Office 365 that you probably don’t know about—Discover some of the valuable but lesser-known features in Office 365 and how they can make your life easier.

Microsoft: Better meetings require better technology—Find out how Microsoft is bringing video conferencing into sharper focus with Office 365.

The post Office 365 news roundup appeared first on Office Blogs.

Excel and big data

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 09:00

One of the great things about being on the Excel team is the opportunity to meet with a broad set of customers. In talking with Excel users, it’s obvious that significant confusion exists about what exactly is “big data.” Many customers are left on their own to make sense of a cacophony of acronyms, technologies, architectures, business models and vertical scenarios.

It is therefore unsurprising that some folks have come up with wildly different ways to define what “big data” means. We’ve heard from some folks who thought big data was working two thousand rows of data. And we’ve heard from vendors who claim to have been doing big data for decades and don’t see it as something new. The wide range of interpretations sometimes reminds us of the old parable of the blind men and an elephant, where a group of men touch an elephant to learn what it is. Each man feels a different part, but only one part, such as the tail or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.

Defining big data

On the Excel team, we’ve taken pointers from analysts to define big data as data that includes any of the following:

  • High volume—Both in terms of data items and dimensionality.
  • High velocity—Arriving at a very high rate, with usually an assumption of low latency between data arrival and deriving value.
  • High variety—Embraces the ability for data shape and meaning to evolve over time.

And which requires:

  • Cost-effective processing—As we mentioned, many of the vendors claim they’ve been doing big data for decades. Technically this is accurate, however, many of these solutions rely on expensive scale-up machines with custom hardware and SAN storages underneath to get enough horsepower. The most promising aspect of big data is the innovation that allows a choice to trade off some aspects of a solution to gain unprecedented lower cost of building and deploying solutions.
  • Innovative types of analysis—Doing the same old analysis on more data is generally a good sign you’re doing scale-up and not big data.
  • Novel business value—Between this principle and the previous one, if a data set doesn’t really change how you do analysis or what you do with your analytic result, then it’s likely not big data.

At the same time, savvy technologists also realize sometimes their needs are best met with tried and trusted technologies. When they need to build a mission critical system that requires ACID transactions, a robust query language and enterprise-grade security, relational databases usually fit the bill quite well, especially as relational vendors advance their offerings to bring some of the benefits of new technologies to their existing customers. This calls for a more mature understanding of the needs and technologies to create the best fit.

Excel’s role in big data

There are a variety of different technology demands for dealing with big data: storage and infrastructure, capture and processing of data, ad-hoc and exploratory analysis, pre-built vertical solutions, and operational analytics baked into custom applications.

The sweet spot for Excel in the big data scenario categories is exploratory/ad hoc analysis. Here, business analysts want to use their favorite analysis tool against new data stores to get unprecedented richness of insight. They expect the tools to go beyond embracing the “volume, velocity and variety” aspects of big data by also allowing them to ask new types of questions they weren’t able to ask earlier: including more predictive and prescriptive experiences and the ability to include more unstructured data (like social feeds) as first-class input into their analytic workflow.

Broadly speaking, there are three patterns of using Excel with external data, each with its own set of dependencies and use cases. These can be combined together in a single workbook to meet appropriate needs.

When working with big data, there are a number of technologies and techniques that can be applied to make these three patterns successful.

Import data into Excel

Many customers use a connection to bring external data into Excel as a refreshable snapshot. The advantage here is that it creates a self-contained document that can be used for working offline, but refreshed with new data when online. Since the data is contained in Excel, customers can also transform it to reflect their own personal context or analytics needs.

When importing big data into Excel, there are a few key challenges that need to be accounted for:

  • Querying big data—Data sources designed for big data, such as SaaS, HDFS and large relational sources, can sometimes require specialized tools. Thankfully, Excel has a solution: Power Query, which is built into Excel 2016 and available separately as a download for earlier versions. Power Query provides several modern sets of connectors for Excel customers, including connectors for relational, HDFS, SaaS (Dynamics CRM, SalesForce), etc. We’re constantly adding to this list and welcome your feedback on new connectors we should provide out of the box at our UserVoice.
  • Transforming data—Big data, like all data, is rarely perfectly clean. Power Query provides the ability to create a coherent, repeatable and auditable set of data transformation steps. By combining simple actions into a series of applied steps, you can create a reliably clean and transformed set of data to work with.

  • Handling large data sources—Power Query is designed to only pull down the “head” of the data set to give you a live preview of the data that is fast and fluid, without requiring the entire set to be loaded into memory. Then you can work with the queries, filter down to just the subset of data you wish to work with, and import that.
  • Handling semi-structured data—A frequent need we see, especially in big data cases, is reading data that’s not as cleanly structured as traditional relational database data. It may be spread out across several files in a folder or very hierarchical in nature. Power Query provides elegant ways of treating both of these cases. All files in a folder can be processed as a unit in Power Query so you can write powerful transforms that work on groups (even filtered groups!) of files in a folder. In addition, several data stores as well as SaaS offerings embrace the JSON data format as a way of dealing with complex, nested and hierarchical data. Power Query has a built-in support for extracting structure out of JSON-formatted data, making it much easier to take advantage of this complex data within Excel.
  • Handling large volumes of data in Excel—Since Excel 2013, the “Data Model” feature in Excel has provided support for larger volumes of data than the 1M row limit per worksheet. Data Model also embraces the Tables, Columns, Relationships representation as first-class objects, as well as delivering pre-built commonly used business scenarios like year-over-year growth or working with organizational hierarchies. For several customers, the headroom Data Model is sufficient for dealing with their own large data volumes. In addition to the product documentation, several of our MVPs have provided great content on Power Pivot and the Data Model. Here are a couple of articles from Rob Collie and Chandoo.
Live query of an external source

Sometimes, either the sheer volume of data or the pattern of the analysis mean that importing all of the source data into Excel is either prohibitive or problematic (e.g., by creating data disclosure concerns).

Customers using OLAP PivotTables are already intimately familiar with the power of combining lightweight client side experiences in PivotTables and PivotCharts with scalable external engines. Interactively querying external sources with a business-friendly metadata layer in PivotTables allows users to explore and find useful aggregations and slices of data easily and rapidly.

One very simple way to create such an interactive query table external source with a large volume of data is to “upsize” a data model into a standalone SQL Server Analysis Services database. Once a user has created a data model, the process of turning it into a SQL Server Analysis Services cube is relatively straightforward for a BI professional, which in turn enables a centrally managed and controlled asset that can provide sophisticated security and data partitioning support.

As new technologies become available, look for more connectors that provide this level of interactivity with those external sources.

Export from an application to Excel

Due to the user familiarity of Excel, “Export to Excel” is a commonly requested feature in various applications. This typically creates a static export of a subset of data in the source application, typically exported for reporting purposes, free from the underlying business rules. As more applications are hosted in the browser, we’re adding new APIs that extend integration options with Excel Online.

Summary

We hope we were able to give you a set of patterns to help make discussions on big data more productive within your own teams. We’re constantly looking for better ways to help our customers make sense of the technology landscape and welcome your feedback!

—Ashvini Sharma and Charlie Ellis, program managers for the Excel team

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Episode 096 Paul Stubbs on the MAX team and the Microsoft Graph—Office 365 Developer Podcast

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 09:00

In this episode, Richard DiZerega and Andrew Coates talk to Paul Stubbs, principal content publishing manager, about his team and the great samples and documentation they are producing.

http://officeblogspodcastswest.blob.core.windows.net/podcasts/EP96_PaulStubbsMAX.mp3

Download the podcast.

Weekly updates Show notes

Got questions or comments about the show? Join the O365 Dev Podcast on the Office 365 Technical Network. The podcast RSS is available iTunes or search for it on “Office 365 Developer Podcast” or add directly with the RSS http://feeds.feedburner.com/Office365DeveloperPodcast.

About Paul Stubbs

Paul Stubbs is a principal content publishing manager for the Microsoft Modern Assistance & Support Experience group (MAX) that produces code-first samples, patterns, solutions, and documentation to help developers learn Microsoft Graph and Office development. His team focuses on building productivity solutions and samples across the Microsoft stack and multiple platforms (Android, iOS, Windows and the web) using the Microsoft Graph and the Graph SDKs. Previously Paul was the chief architect for the Microsoft Services WW Azure Center of Excellence team.

About the hosts

Richard is a software engineer in Microsoft’s Developer Experience (DX) group, where he helps developers and software vendors maximize their use of Microsoft cloud services in Office 365 and Azure. Richard has spent a good portion of the last decade architecting Office-centric solutions, many that span Microsoft’s diverse technology portfolio. He is a passionate technology evangelist and frequent speaker at worldwide conferences, training, and events. Richard is highly active in the Office 365 community, popular blogger at http://aka.ms/richdizz and can be found on Twitter at @richdizz. Richard is born, raised and based in Dallas, TX, but works on a worldwide team based in Redmond. Richard is an avid builder of things (BoT), musician and lightning-fast runner

 

A civil engineer by training and a software developer by profession, Andrew Coates has been a developer evangelist at Microsoft since early 2004, teaching, learning and sharing coding techniques. During that time, he’s focused on .Net development on the desktop, in the cloud, on the web, on mobile devices and, most recently for Office. Andrew has a number of apps in various stores and generally has far too much fun doing his job to honestly be able to call it work. Andrew lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife and two almost-grown-up children.

Useful links

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Why secure email is essential for your business

Thu, 06/23/2016 - 09:00

Malware most commonly reaches your business through email. As attacks become more sophisticated, your business could be vulnerable. A malware attack means more than just a security risk. If attacked, your business runs the risk of lost intellectual property, productivity, business reputation, time and money. In fact, the average total organizational cost of a data breach in the U.S. is $6.5 million, and an average of 250,000 malware variants are detected every day.

What is malware? It’s any software created to cause damage, but there are different types and considerations when looking to protect your small business. What types of malware are threats to your small business?

  • Spyware is software that gathers information on a user or organization without their knowledge.
  • Trojan horses are malicious programs that trick victims into installing on their computer.
  • Phishing is an attempt to acquire sensitive information by posing as a trusted entity.
  • Worms are standalone programs that replicate themselves to spread to other devices.
  • Ransomware restricts access to system data, demanding ransom to remove the restriction.
  • Viruses are malware that replicate by inserting copies of themselves into other programs, files or hard drives.

Unprotected emails open the door to attacks. Most viruses, Trojan horses and worms are activated when users open attachments or click links in email messages. Without proper protection, you’re opening the door for costly and damaging attacks. The right preventative measures, however, will guard your business against the loss a malware attack brings. These include secure email hosting, email encryption, a secure email server and anti-virus protection.

Malicious or criminal attacks are the primary cause of data breaches: 49 percent involved a malicious or criminal attack, 19 percent concerned negligent employees and 32 percent involved IT and business process system glitches. Businesses can build up their defenses by using a paid, hosted cloud.

Fortunately, Microsoft Office 365’s Exchange Online cloud-hosted email for business fortifies your IT defenses with a variety of tools like robust antivirus protection, automatic patching and anti-spam filtering.

As attacks become more sophisticated, advanced security, privacy, encryption and anti-virus technologies from Office 365 can be your best defense. To learn more about the protection that Exchange Online can offer your business, check out our infographic, “Guarding against email attacks.”

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Enterprise email—what a new business needs to know

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 09:00

A small investment in a business email account can be the difference between success and failure for your new business. Yet, for many businesses, finding the right enterprise email provider isn’t top of mind. Most people think email is just a given—it is free, after all, so why not just set up a simple email account, like “YourGreatNewBusiness@outlook.com?” While free email accounts are great for personal use, the lack of a proper business email solution could sneak up on you as your company starts to scale.

Be prepared for growth with an enterprise email account. Here are a few of the benefits from a business email account that you won’t get from a free email account:

Customers will notice your email address

Imagine you are at a networking event and meet your dream client. You spend the evening talking about your services and what makes you different from the competition. She is excited about what you bring to the table and asks for your business card. You hand it over only to show that your free email address does not reflect your business’s name. Instead of reading “YourName@YourGreatNewBusiness.com,” your non-enterprise email reads “YourName@outlook.com.” A familiar look of uncertainty rushes over her face and you know that she likely won’t reach out after all.

Small details can make or break trust with a client. Using a free email account implies that your business is too young, small or lacking in the technical proficiency to obtain a domain-based email address—all red flags to a potential client.

Besides gaining client trust with a business email, you also have a better chance of your email being remembered in case your business card is lost. It’s standard practice for business emails to be simple, like “YourName@YourGreatNewBusiness.com,” which allows for easier recall if someone is trying to get ahold of you quickly.

Build trust with your customers

Have you ever received spam from a friend’s personal account after their email address was hacked? Imagine receiving a scam from a client you recently partnered with. Would you want to continue sending your company’s sensitive information to this client?

Quality enterprise email accounts include advanced security protocols and spam filters to safeguard your email from outside threats. This becomes ever more important as business scales since it will protect both your employees and your customers.

Secure business email accounts give you the peace of mind in knowing that your important files won’t be subject to a virus. In addition, your customers will rest assured that they can email you sensitive information without fear of that email being hacked.

Rest assured that your technology will grow with you

When relying on personal emails, business owners often lose valuable insight into communications, which could hinder long-term growth. Enterprise email accounts ensure that your email service becomes an extension of your communication strategy. Employers and managers gain the ability to join the conversation, ensure their clients’ information is secure and their needs are met.

A standard business email provider will make it easy for employers and manager to:

  • Check the email of a vacationing or ill employee to ensure nothing is dropped.
  • Review a client email string for context on a project.
  • Address a conflict at work that may have started over email.
  • Add email accounts as your company scales.
  • Help an employee respond to a customer on a sensitive issue.

As businesses grow, conflict is often unavoidable. Business email accounts put the ownership of all correspondence in the company’s hands, whereas personal emails put the ownership in the hands of the individual. If a conflict arises, your business has no control over or access to personal email accounts. Enterprise email, on the other hand, puts the company in control, which is a necessity as a company grows and must become even more accountable to its customers.

Make your email work for you

The best enterprise email solutions today come packed with a suite of integrated tools to add efficiency to your workday.

Quality business email accounts might include:

  • Calendars for internal and external scheduling or planning.
  • Office applications (like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, etc.).
  • Email or phone customer service support.
  • Consistent spam filtering and malware protection.
  • Huge mailbox storage for better email management.
  • Stronger security for protecting sensitive data.

When searching for the right enterprise email solution for your business, it’s important to compare toolset integrations to determine which option is best for you.

Save time and money

It might come as a surprise, but an enterprise email platform can save you more money than even a free solution could. Free solutions come with a set storage limit, meaning you’ll be purging your email once every few months. This not only takes time, but could leave you losing valuable emails and files in the long run.

The time it takes to manage your email storage is time you could be spending growing your company. You might consider an internal email server instead, but that requires an IT team to manage the server, which costs far more than finding a trustworthy enterprise email provider.

Enterprise email helps you scale with ease

For growing companies, switching email providers can be a daunting task. Data is often lost in the transfer, employees go without email for a few days (or even weeks) and customers grow frustrated as their emails bounce. Building your business on an enterprise email foundation will help you keep up as your company grows. Easily add and subtract accounts, change storage, back up your data and integrate collaboration tools.

Your email is a recorded history of your company, and losing any bit of that could leave you without important context as you grow. By choosing a business email solution from the beginning, you are laying the groundwork to scale with ease.

Related content

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Take Microsoft for a test drive—take your teamwork to the next level with Windows 10 and Office 365

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 09:00

Test drive Office 365 and Windows 10 from the comfort of your own office.

An online immersion session is not your typical online event. These 90-minute interactive sessions start with an online roundtable discussing your business challenges and then launch into a live environment in the cloud. A skilled facilitator guides you through simulated business scenarios that are customized to your interests.

We will send you a link to connect your own device to a remote desktop loaded with our latest and greatest technology, so you can experience first-hand how Microsoft tools can solve your biggest challenges in a collaborative, fun environment.

Online immersion sessions help you discover how to:

  • Keep information secure while being productive—Make it easier to work securely and maintain compliance without inhibiting your workflow.
  • Capture, review and share notes from anywhere—Boost your team’s productivity by sharing documents and collaborating in real time.
  • Use social tools to find experts and answers—Break down barriers between departments to share knowledge quickly.
  • Quickly visualize and analyze complex data—Zero in on the data and insights you need without having to involve a BI expert.
  • Co-author and share content quickly—Access and edit documents even while others are editing and reviewing them—all at the same time.

Expect to leave the session with enough time-saving skills to more than offset your time investment within a few short days.

Each session is only open to 20 participants. Reserve your seat now and learn how you can be more productive anywhere, anytime with Office 365.

Wednesday, June 22

Wednesday, June 29

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3 ways Power BI can help your sales team succeed

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 09:00

With an ever-evolving market and a massive amount of data available, your sales team’s job of knowing their customer base isn’t easy. A multitude of information streams in every day. Sorting through data sets, spreadsheets and a dozen apps can slow them down—hindering the growth and success of your company. In fact, 90 percent of sales reps associate missed opportunities with the inability to leverage all available information.

Instead of solely focusing on dissecting the customer data in front of them, sales reps should be looking to data visualization to pull out insights not apparent at first glance. Microsoft Power BI in Office 365 can help by enabling your sales reps to collect, unify and visualize all their data in one place. It’s cloud-based and compatible with 59 different applications, which simplifies the process.

Here are three ways data visualization can transform your sales process:

  1. Instant reports—Companies are always trying to find new ways to increase productivity. For a sales team, that can mean eliminating difficult and time-consuming manual reports and replacing them with a technology partner that can sort through data from myriad sources and produce actionable insights. Pipeline reports and sales trends can be generated in hours, minutes and sometimes seconds—instead of days—leaving you plenty of extra time to review and develop thoughtful strategies.
  2. Data share across departments—For your sales team to succeed, your company’s other departments also need analytical success. Because Power BI supports nearly 60 applications, different departments can import the data they’ve collected to share with each other and provide deeper insight. When a sales team can see where marketing efforts have succeeded, for example, they can more effectively realign their strategies.
  3. Quota management—In an ever-changing market, setting realistic quotas proves challenging, especially when your sales success depends on variables like region, month and customer segment. Power BI eliminates the difficulty by gathering past and present data—in one place—so you can set attainable goals for the future.

Your sales team already knows how to close a deal. Help them get there faster with the insights gained through data visualization.

For more tips on using data visualization to drive sales and increase performance, check out our latest e-book, “4 Ways Data Visualizations Can Transform Sales” and learn more about the opportunities Office 365 and Power BI presents for your sales team. And watch the “Management in Motion: Building an Energized Workforce” episode of Modern Workplace, where we feature a hands-on demo of Power BI.

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Minnesota school district starts the school year right with the help of Microsoft FastTrack

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 09:00

Today’s post was written by Burke Egner, director of technology at Austin Public Schools.

Austin, Minnesota, is more than just a rest stop on Interstate 90 a couple hours south of Minneapolis. It is home to a major multinational company (the Hormel Foods Corporation) and its community is committed to progress and innovation. For the Austin Public School District, technology in education is a top priority. So when its teachers asked for more flexible tools, easier network access and better communication with their colleagues and students, the district decided on a move to Microsoft Office 365.

“We wanted to give teachers remote network access and create email accounts for students, but to do it on-premises would have required significant infrastructure upgrades,” says Burke Egner, director of technology at Austin Public Schools.

A race against time

The decision to adopt Office 365 was made in June 2015, and district leadership wanted network accounts and email addresses for all 4,800 students and 650 faculty and staff to be up and running by the start of school on August 28. “The superintendent wanted every student and staff member to start the year with these great new collaboration, storage and access capabilities,” says Egner. “It became a race against time.”

That was when Austin Public Schools engaged the Microsoft FastTrack* team for support. “FastTrack immediately helped us assess our internal systems and identify hurdles,” says Egner. “They gave us the resources and tools that we used to build a complete migration plan.”

To give students and staff a seamless single sign-on experience in Office 365, Tony Campbell, network administrator at Austin Public Schools, first worked with FastTrack to deploy Microsoft Active Directory Federation Service (ADFS). “Setting up ADFS added complexity to the project,” says Campbell. “But FastTrack helped us get the information and resources we needed to streamline and simplify the process.”

FastTrack helped Campbell’s team update an outdated Exchange Server 2007 messaging environment and then migrate 650 existing email accounts with almost no trouble. “We could not have done it in time without the help we got from FastTrack,” says Campbell.

More than just onboarding and migration

The district’s engagement with FastTrack didn’t end with migration—FastTrack connected Austin Public Schools with the Microsoft Education team and other Microsoft product teams to help the district train users and adopt additional tools like Skype for Business, Yammer, OneNote and OneDrive.

For example, Campbell’s team created an IT support Yammer group where teachers and other employees can download pre-made training materials available at the Office 365 Training Center. Freed from having to create these materials and deliver training themselves, the district’s IT staff can now spend more time working in direct support of the teachers, and average Help Desk response times have dropped from 72 to 24 hours.

“The FastTrack team didn’t just cut us loose when the migration was over,” says Egner. “They helped us plan our entire project, pointed us to the right deployment tools and provided training and adoption resources that helped us realize the full potential of Office 365. We still go back to FastTrack even now for more tools and resources.”

To learn more about FastTrack, visit FastTrack.microsoft.com and become familiar with what our customer success service has to offer.

*FastTrack is available to customers with 50 seats and above with eligible plans. Refer to FastTrack Center Benefit for Office 365 for eligibility details.

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June 2016 updates for Get & Transform in Excel 2016 and the Power Query add-in

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 09:00

Excel 2016 includes a powerful new set of features based on Power Query technology, which provides fast, easy data gathering and shaping capabilities and can be accessed through the Get & Transform section on the Data ribbon.

Today, we are pleased to announce four new data transformation and connectivity features that have been requested by many customers.

These updates are available as part of an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, find out how to get these latest updates. If you have Excel 2010 or Excel 2013, you can also take advantage of these updates by downloading the latest Power Query for Excel add-in.

These updates include the following new or improved features:

  • Conditional Columns.
  • Column type indicator in Query Editor preview column headers.
  • Reorder Queries and Query Groups inside Query Editor via drag and drop gestures.
  • Query Management menu in Query Editor.
Conditional Columns

With this update, we’re making it extremely easy for users to create new columns in their queries based on values from a different column. A typical use case for this includes creating a set of “buckets” or “categories” based on ranges from a continuous value column. For example, categorizing a person’s BMI into “Underweight,” “Normal,” “Overweight” or “Obese” based on well-known BMI value ranges, or defining categories such as “This Week,” “Last Week,” etc. based on a Date column.

Previously, this could be achieved by creating Custom Columns and capturing the conditional logic with a set of “if-then-else” statements. These expressions can very soon become extremely complex to author and maintain as new conditions are added.

Starting with this update, users can now define a set of rules and output values for the new column based on values in other columns within their tables. This can be achieved via the new Conditional Columns dialog, available in the Query Editor under the “Add Column” tab on the ribbon.

Column type indicator in Query Editor preview column headers

With this update, we added column type indicators in column headers within the Query Editor preview. These new column type indicators allow users to quickly understand the types for each of the columns in their table, as well as change them to another type by clicking on these indicators or by using the previously available ribbon options (Data Type drop-down menu at the Home tab on the ribbon or Detect Type command under the Transform tab).

Reorder Queries and Query Groups inside Query Editor via drag and drop gestures

Users can now easily reorder queries and query groups within the Queries pane inside Query Editor by selecting one or multiple objects and dragging and dropping them into the desired destination. This can be used to reorder items within a given group (or top level) and also to move objects into a query group.

Adding drag and drop gestures to the Queries pane inside Query Editor greatly improves the user experience for reorganizing queries and query groups, which was previously only possible via Context Menu options.

Query Management menu in Query Editor

With this update, we’re exposing a new “Manage” drop-down menu for a query within the Query Editor Home tab on the ribbon. This menu exposes common management operations for a query, such as Delete, Duplicate and Reference.

How do I get started?

Excel 2016 provides a powerful set of capabilities for fast, easy data gathering and shaping, which is available under the Get & Transform section on the Data ribbon. Updates outlined in this blog are available as part of an Office 365 subscription. If you are an Office 365 subscriber, find out how to get these latest updates. If you have Excel 2010 or Excel 2013, you can also take advantage of these updates by downloading the latest Power Query for Excel add-in.

—The Excel team

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Your intranet in your pocket—the SharePoint mobile app for iOS is now available

Tue, 06/21/2016 - 06:00

Last month, we unveiled a new vision for the future of SharePoint, and today we’re pleased to release the new SharePoint mobile app for iOS. Install it now and take your intranet with you—your intranet in your pocket. Stay connected to important content, sites, portals and people from across your intranet while on the go. The SharePoint mobile journey starts now. This is a first step, and we are excited to continue to build on what we’ve started. Let’s dive in to the details.

Watch this episode of Microsoft Mechanics with Andy Haon, principal group program manager on the SharePoint engineering team, for an in-depth look at the SharePoint mobile app:

The SharePoint mobile app

The new SharePoint mobile app helps you keep your work moving forward by providing quick access to your team sites, organization portals and resources, and even a view into what the people you work with are working on. And this new app is infused with the intelligence of the Microsoft Graph, which applies machine learning to activity in Office 365 to connect you to the relevant documents and people around you. The SharePoint mobile app works with SharePoint Online in Office 365, SharePoint Server (2013 and 2016) on-premises and your hybrid environment. Once you launch the app on your iPhone, you’ll be prompted to sign in with your SharePoint credentials. The SharePoint mobile app lets you easily switch between accounts.

The Sites tab takes you to a list of the sites you visit frequently and sites you’re following. Click on a site to see recent activity, recent files and the site’s assets (documents, lists, subsites, pages and more). You can also share the site. When you click to a team site, you immediately see how the SharePoint mobile app natively renders the site elements quickly and beautifully.

The SharePoint mobile app also links to other Office apps. For example, when you click an Office document in the Recent files pivot, it will take you directly into the corresponding Office mobile app. Similarly, when you access a SharePoint document library within a team site, you will be taken into the OneDrive mobile app for iOS to view, share, discover and manage files stored across Office 365. Learn more how the two apps work together.

Main Sites tab. Clicking to a team site. Full navigation of a team site.

The Links tab takes you to sites and portals programmed for everyone in your company to see. These are curated by your SharePoint admin(s) from the SharePoint home in Office 365. And if you have invested in responsive, mobile-designed portals, they will shine through in the app. Microsoft, too, is investing in responsive design as a top priority to ensure all new experiences (like the SharePoint home in Office 365, Microsoft Delve and Office 365 Video) are mobile and responsive by default.

Main Links tab. Example “Contoso Web” portal. Example Office 365 Video portal.

The People tab gives you visibility into what the people you work with are working on. Find and browse colleagues in your network. Tap on an individual to see their contact card and discover what they are working on and who they are working with based on intelligence powered by Office 365.

Main People tab. An individual card in People.

Search—The SharePoint mobile app provides search throughout with clean results—filtered by sites, files and people. When you perform a search in the SharePoint mobile app, you are connecting through full enterprise search, so you can find content and people from across your intranet, SharePoint team sites, company portals and the OneDrive for Business folders you have access to, including content recommendations powered by the Microsoft Graph.

Search for files, sites and people. Search results for files. Search result for sites.

Learn more about getting started with the SharePoint mobile app, including technical support information.

What’s next

The SharePoint mobile app for iOS is just a first step on the SharePoint mobile journey, and we are excited to continue to build on what we’ve started. We’ll continue delivering enhancements to the app, such as support of cross-company news and announcements, coming later this year. We are also working on Android and Windows Universal versions, which we expect to release before the end of this year.

We want your feedback and ideas. Send us input via in-app Shake, posts and votes to SharePoint UserVoice and tweets to @SharePoint and @Office365 on Twitter. We’re eager to hear your feedback and use it to continuously provide the best intranet in your pocket.

Mark Kashman, senior product manager for the SharePoint team

Frequently asked questions

Q. Can I use the SharePoint app for online and on-premises?

A. Yes. The SharePoint app will connect to your environment whether you are using SharePoint Online in Office 365, SharePoint Server 2013 or 2016, or hybrid deployments.

Q. Which authentication methods will the SharePoint mobile app support?

A. We support a variety of authentication methods and we will also have support for mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM), so the device and the application are secured for IT and the app is easy for users from the start. To learn more, please review the sign-in options for the SharePoint mobile app.

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Learn how Docs.com can be used in the classroom to share your work

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 09:00

Docs.com is the easiest way to create a visually appealing online portfolio that can include OneNote notebooks, Word documents, Excel workbooks, PowerPoint slide decks, interactive Sways, PDFs and a host of web content. Docs.com retains all your Office documents’ rich formatting, animations and formulas and can be easily shared to your school or to the world.

We have been gathering feedback from thousands of amazing teachers and students around the globe to ensure that the experience can meet your needs.

We’ve seen teachers create lessons on Docs.com by posting documents, images, videos, 3D models and other relevant content from the web. We also have seen students put together their most prized work and add to larger class collections to give them a permanent home on the web.

How Docs.com helps in the classroom

Docs.com lets teachers and students organize and publish their Office documents. Later on, content can be curated and bundled into collections, giving the content a stylish look and feel you can share with the world. Teachers use collections to showcase their students’ best work, organize supplemental resources for their lessons and share conference materials and school newsletters to parents.

Docs.com journals provide teachers and students a forum to express their personalities and talk about their work. Whether it’s for a teacher’s blog or a student’s reflection, journals make it easy to update your audience on your latest work. And with the power of Sway, journals look great on all devices. Journals can also be made discoverable on search engines and are easily shareable through email or social media.

Finally, Docs.com comes with built-in analytics that lets teachers and students see how their work is impacting the world. Students are rewarded when they see their work reaching hundreds of people around the world.

Interested in finding out more? Check out this video to learn how Docs.com is helping Dr. Michelle Zimmerman, a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert and teacher at Renton Preparatory Christian School, and her class!

You can also find other wonderful use cases from teachers in the Docs.com collection. Browse quality content from other professionals in the education space. Find materials to download and keep; share to colleagues, parents or students; or modify for your specific needs. Follow favorite contributors to stay current with their latest work in this “content-based social network.” It’s a great way for teachers to discover lessons from other teachers around the world!

AVID, a global non-profit with a 36-year proven track record of increasing student achievement, has decided to leverage docs.com to create and share best practices for all teachers. “We are looking forward to being able to leverage Microsoft’s cloud offering Docs.com to make it easier for teachers and students to incorporate technology use and skills in the classroom,” commented Thuan Nguyen, executive vice president for AVID. Additional details on product launch and access revealed at next week’s International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference being held in Denver, Colorado.

Announcing “Organization Visibility” for publishing to Docs.com

We’ve been hearing from teachers about how some of their content is not quite ready to be shared outside of their school or district. Keeping things a little more private sometimes makes students and teachers feel safer about distributing their work. Because of this, we are rolling out the Organization Visibility feature—giving you more granular control over who can see your class content.

With Organization Visibility, only people who sign in with an Office 365 work or school account from the same organization can view your content. Docs will not appear in the search results or to users who aren’t signed in from your school or district. This is a perfect option to share class projects or photos that are not intended for the broader public. Of course, you can still set your content visibility to “Public” to get the broadest reach or to “Limited” so only people who are given your link can view your work—like when you want to share your students’ work with their parents.

Get started with Docs.com today

Teachers and students can get started right away. Just use your Office 365 school account, Microsoft account or Facebook account to sign in to Docs.com. Try it out and share your valuable feedback with us so we can keep improving the product experience!

—Docs.com team

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Professional learning community groups in Office 365 Education

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 09:00

A professional learning community, or PLC, is a group of educators who meet regularly to share expertise and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. Teachers around the world have started using Office 365 Groups to make collaboration within a PLC a lot simpler and more streamlined. PLC groups are typically formed around interest areas (e.g., 9th grade math), grade levels (e.g., 10th grade teachers) or across subjects (e.g., science teachers).

Here are some barriers to engagement with PLCs today that Office 365 Groups is addressing:

  • Teachers can be isolated, time is severely limited and collaboration is difficult.
  • Professional collaboration tools are disconnected and don’t always support meaningful, sustained collaboration.
  • A challenge for many PLCs is extending the work and relationships in the times and spaces between physically coming together.
  • It can be difficult for new teachers to ramp up.
  • Information is often stored in personal spaces as opposed to one common place that can benefit others.
  • New members need to better understand the journey, story, exploration and history of a PLC, its activities and areas of inquiry.

As part of our April announcement, we mentioned how we are going to further improve our experience for PLCs. Today, we are excited to announce the PLC Groups Preview—tailored to meet the needs of teachers and overcome the above mentioned barriers to engagement today.

The new Office 365 PLC groups include one place to collaborate effectively in a community of practice. Each group comes with a:

  • Inbox for group email communication, including Connector for connecting your group to Twitter and following topics or Twitter handles that interest your PLC group.
  • Calendar for scheduling group events.
  • Document library for storing and working on group files and folders.
  • OneNote notebook for taking project and meeting notes.
  • Planner for organizing and assigning tasks and getting updates on project progress.

PLC groups are also available on all your mobile devices—both Outlook Groups and OneNote have mobile apps. This helps you keep track of your PLC conversations and PLC notebooks, making it easy to share relevant resources with your groups on the go.

A look at how one district implemented PLC groups

For an in-depth look at how Omaha Public Schools is using Office 365 Groups for their PLCs to streamline collaboration, read their full case study on the Customer Stories page and then watch this video:

Administrators at Omaha Public Schools developed some guidance for their staff on how to do PLCs in their district:

Here’s what Omaha Public Schools staff members have to say about their experience with PLC groups:

“Looking at what Omaha Public Schools’ needs are around professional learning, it was important to build around a platform that was consistent with what our teachers and staff use on a daily basis.”
—Rob Dickson, executive director of Information Management Services for Omaha Public Schools

I love the fact that I can create sections, that I can create pages within the sections, and I can upload anything I want, or do a quick snip from a page and throw it in there. Everyone knows the format, so we’re not trying to figure out somebody else’s way of thinking.”
—Laura Wray, 4th grade teacher at Wakonda Elementary School

“Using our PLC groups, everything is templated out, so you just add to them and it pops up in their Office 365 account and they’re rolling the next day…There’s so much asked of teachers. They can go home at night and say, OK, here’s an activity we did today and it really helped with that comprehension strand, and I want to make sure my teammates get that.”
—Rebecca Chambers, instructional technology coach

Office 365 Groups—integrated to support PLCs

Here is an example of how Office 365 Groups for PLCs integrates Outlook, OneNote and a SharePoint library:

In Outlook on the web, a faculty member chooses the PLC template to create a PLC group.

The PLC group collaborates, shares lesson plans and stores student data all in a shared group OneNote notebook.

The PLC group can store PLC reference material in the group’s document library.

For more information about upcoming improvements to Office 365 Groups for Education, please visit the Office 365 Education Roadmap. To enroll in the PLC Groups Preview, please sign up here and request to be added to the preview.

Additional references

—Rohit Kapoor, program manager for the Office 365 Groups team

Frequently asked questions

Q. How do I enable PLC groups for faculty only?

A. If Office 365 PLC Groups is disabled in your district, IT admins can use any of the samples found here to enable groups for faculty only.

Q. Once enabled in Office 365 Education, who has access to PLC Groups?

A. We are still in preview, but once we begin to roll out broadly, all users who have access to the Mail web app in Office 365 (also called as Outlook Web Access or OWA) can create PLC groups in Office 365 similar to other groups.

Q. Is PLC Groups accessible from mobile and Outlook desktop?

A. Like other Office 365 groups, PLC groups, once created from Outlook Web Access, automatically show up in Outlook Groups mobile app and Outlook 2016.

Q. Do PLC groups come in multiple languages?

A. Language support is no different for PLC groups than for Office 365. You can find a complete list of languages and markets here.

The post Professional learning community groups in Office 365 Education appeared first on Office Blogs.

Educators, increase collaboration and professional development with new Office 365 Education updates

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 09:00

As part of Microsoft’s Education announcement in April, we announced new experiences and updates to Office 365 Education coming this summer that will make it easier for teachers to manage their classroom and collaborate with peers, and for them or their IT administrators to set it all up. As part of this announcement, we mentioned there’d be even more updates coming this summer! We’re thrilled to share these with you today—all are teacher inspired and student focused.

Today, we are announcing enhanced educator collaboration with PLC groups, better content sharing with Docs.com, easier formative assessments with Microsoft Forms and additional Learning Management System (LMS) and Student Information System (SIS) partners with OneNote Class Notebook.

All educators have access to these new updates through Office 365 Education, which is totally free for teachers and students when you go to office.com/teacher.

Educator collaboration with PLC groups

Aside from getting started with the technology, we know there can be some barriers to collaborating and sharing knowledge between teachers:

  • Teachers can be isolated, time is severely limited and collaboration is difficult.
  • Professional collaboration tools are disconnected and don’t always support meaningful, sustained collaboration.
  • Information is often stored in the personal files of educators, making it difficult for new teachers to ramp up.

To foster collaboration, educators look to professional learning communities (PLCs), where groups of educators can meet regularly to share expertise and work collaboratively to improve teaching skills and the academic performance of students. In April, we announced how we were going to further improve our experience for PLCs by customizing Office 365 Groups to fit this PLC model even more easily.

Today, we are excited to announce the PLC Groups Preview—tailored to meet educator needs and overcome barriers to engagement. Office 365 Education users who are faculty can now create PLC groups, similar to any other Office 365 group, and access shared conversation spaces, file space, OneNote notebooks and calendars. PLC groups also integrate directly with Microsoft Planner, released in general availability with Office 365 earlier this month. Here is an example of how one of our early adopters, Omaha Public Schools, is using PLC groups with Office 365 Education:

Interested in trying the PLC Groups Preview this summer? Office 365 Education customers can sign up here and request to be added to the preview. Read more about PLC groups in this blog post.

Docs.com fosters knowledge and content sharing

We understand another barrier for teachers is knowledge and content sharing within a PLC or across the globe. Teachers are constantly searching for new lessons and their students want to share their work with parents and the world.

Docs.com is the easiest way to create a visually appealing online portfolio that can include OneNote notebooks, Word documents, Excel workbooks, PowerPoint slide decks, interactive Sways, PDFs and a host of web content. Docs.com retains all the rich formatting, animations and formulas of your Office documents and can be easily shared with your school and the world. We have been gathering feedback from thousands of amazing educators and students around the globe to ensure that the experience can meet their needs.

We heard from teachers about how some of their content is not quite ready to be shared outside of their school or district, many of which have Office 365 Education as a collaborative platform. Keeping things a little more private sometimes makes students and teachers feel safer about distributing their work. Because of this, today we are announcing the Organization Visibility feature—giving you more granular control over who can see your class content. With Organization Visibility, only people who sign in with an Office 365 work or school account from the same organization (i.e., school or district) can view your content.

Read more about Docs.com in this blog post.

Formative assessment gets easier with Microsoft Forms

Along with collaborating with other educators, we know that most educators’ time is spent in the classroom with the students. Microsoft Forms is the result of direct feedback from educators that they want to have a quizzing function with Office 365 Education. Educators told us they need an easy way to assess student progress on an on-going basis, an assessment solution that will save them time, help differentiate instruction for all students and provide quiz takers with real-time personalized feedback.

Since we announced Microsoft Forms in April, we have added two new features! The first is auto-grading, meaning teachers don’t need to download an add-in or do any complicated workarounds to do grading. The second is real-time, personalized feedback, which allows teachers to provide feedback to students for each answer and question.

Read more about Microsoft Forms for education in this blog post.

Office 365 now works with more of the technology you already use

Since we launched the original Class Notebook add-in assignment and grade integration with Learning Management Systems (LMS), Student Information Systems (SIS) and gradebooks, we’ve had many excited educators and schools try it out. We’ve also heard more and more teachers ask for Class Notebook integration with other systems they use. We’ve been busy working with partner companies from around the world over the last couple of months, and today we are announcing more than 35 partners who have committed to working with OneNote and Office 365 Education, with currently over 20 implemented and many more coming soon.

Chula Vista Elementary School District is a customer story that demonstrates how we are working with solutions that educators already use, featuring Microsoft Office 365 and Microsoft partner Edmodo.

If you don’t see your LMS, SIS or gradebook on this list below, be sure to let us know at classnotebook@onenote.uservoice.com. Download the latest version of the Class Notebook add-in to see the most up-to-date set of partners.

Class Notebook add-in assignment and grading partners.

Read more about new Office 365 Education and Class Notebook integrations in this blog post.

Getting ready for next school year

To continue to deliver the best products for educators this next school year, we openly ask for your feedback via our UserVoice site. Additionally, we have added a new Office 365 Education public roadmap and blog, so you will soon see new features in our products based on your feedback. Stay tuned for more exciting updates coming over the summer and into next school year.

Finally, we love to hear your stories—please share them with us on Twitter at @Microsoft_EDU.

—Ari Schorr, product marketing manager for the Microsoft in Education team

The post Educators, increase collaboration and professional development with new Office 365 Education updates appeared first on Office Blogs.

Microsoft Forms—a new formative assessment and survey tool in Office 365 Education

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 09:00

Today, we are pleased to announce the availability of Microsoft Forms for our Office 365 Education customers. Forms is the result of direct feedback from educators that they want to have a quizzing function with Office 365 Education. Educators told us they need an easy way to assess student progress on an ongoing basis. They also told us they want an assessment solution that will save them time, help differentiate instruction for all students and provide quiz takers with real-time personalized feedback.

We designed Forms to be super easy so that anyone could confidently create a form and easily see results as they come in. Forms lets anyone with an Office 365 Education account create and/or respond to quizzes. What makes Forms unique and so valuable for educators is the automatic grading and in-quiz feedback functionality. Automatic grading does exactly what the name implies and greatly reduces the time spent grading. In-quiz feedback is a feature that lets quiz authors personalize messages depending how a student answers a question. For example, if a student answers a question incorrectly they may get a message, such as: “The answer is incorrect. I suggest you review chapter four as this will be on the final.”

How Forms works

When an instructor wants to assess how well the students understand a given topic, they can quickly author a quiz directly from their desktop or mobile web browser. The instructor simply determines the questions they would like to ask and then chooses an answer type, such as multiple choice, text or a rating. The Forms authors can then send a link or QR code to quiz takers or embed the quiz into a web page, blog or Learning Management System (LMS), and recipients can complete the quiz on phones, tablets or PCs. And with the real-time feedback in Forms, the instructor can very quickly see where the class may need additional instruction or could advance more rapidly. Forms responses can also be exported to Microsoft Excel for richer analyses.

Forms is a great quizzing platform because quiz question types are unique. Quiz authors can also indicate the correct answer(s) while authoring quiz questions and they can enter feedback for each answer.

Quizzes aren’t the only scenario where Forms can be used. Because it is so flexible and easy to customize, Forms can be used to create surveys, requisitions, assessments and so much more. For example, a school teacher may want to get feedback from a student’s parents on their child’s study habits.

Forms is available to Office 365 Education customers today. If you are an existing Office 365 for Education customer, you can locate the tile for Forms in My Apps on the Office 365 App Launcher. New customers will see the Forms tile appear directly within the App Launcher and need not take any additional actions to use Forms right away. Anyone with an Office 365 school ID can go to forms.office.com today to create their first form and provide feedback on Forms.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Will Forms be available in all markets and languages?

A. Yes, Forms will be available in all of the Office 365 Education customer markets and languages.

Q. When will Forms be available to customers outside of Office 365 Education?

A. We are exploring possibilities but do not have any details to share at this time.

Q. My school already has Office 365; does that mean we’re getting Forms?

A. That depends. Forms is only available to those schools that subscribe to Office 365 Education or Office Education E5. In some instances, schools opt for another Office 365 subscription type that does not offer Forms at this time.

Q. Can I embed Forms into a web page?

A. Yes. Forms can be easily embedded into web pages via the embed code provided in the Send tab in the upper-right hand corner of the Forms page.

Q. How do I get started with and learn more about Forms?

A. Create a form or quiz with questions, define settings, share your form and check the results—in a few easy steps:

  1. Sign in and create a new survey form or quiz form.
  2. Adjust settings for your form.
  3. Share your form with others.
  4. Check your form results.

Also see Copy a form and Delete a form for more information.

Q. Is there a Forms mobile app?

A: No. Forms are available through desktop and mobile browsers, and users can both create and complete forms within the browser. This ensures that the widest number of people can reply to your Form without having to download and use a separate app.

Q: Who can reply to the Forms I create?

A: Anyone can reply to forms, including those within your school as well as external users. When you create a form, you can choose to either limit its availability to within your school (i.e., all those with your school ID) or you can choose to allow anyone with a link (no sign-in required) to access it. External uses might be things like collecting homework habit surveys from parents.

Q. What are the browser requirements for Forms?

A: Forms is optimized for Internet Explorer 10+, Edge, Firefox (latest version), Chrome (latest version) and for Android (latest version) and iOS (latest version) web browsers.

Q. Is Forms HIPAA and BAA compliant? 

A. Yes, data in Forms follows the standard O365 Compliance Framework and belongs to Compliance Category C as outlined in the framework.

Q. Are FERPA and BAA protections in place?

A. Yes, Forms meets FERPA and BAA protection standards.

Q. Where (geographically) is the data stored?

A. Forms data is stored on servers located in the United States.

Q. Can Forms be disabled?

A. Yes. Administrators can turn off Forms by visiting the User Management tab in your school’s Office 365 Admin Center and then follow these easy steps:

  1. Select All users and click Edit.
  2. Go to Step 3, Licenses.
  3. Uncheck Microsoft Forms for different SKU.

The post Microsoft Forms—a new formative assessment and survey tool in Office 365 Education appeared first on Office Blogs.

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