A Guided Tour of Microsoft Office 365

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Pretty much everyone has used Microsoft Office before, and many of us have been using it our entire lives. And although it’s true that over the years each generation of the software has improved, there’s arguably never been a release of Microsoft Office as dramatic as the introduction of Office 365.

Office 365 offers desktop versions of the full suite of application (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Publisher and Visio) and much, much more by leveraging the power of the cloud and employing a subscription service model. In a nutshell, Office 365 allows you to create, edit, share, and collaborate on Office documents on your own or with others and stay synced with colleagues and schedules via email, calendars, team sites, file sharing, instant messaging, and online meetings with HD videos.

If your interest isn’t piqued yet, it should be. Let’s take a quick tour of Office 365.

Office and Office Web Apps

Although many users are content with Word, Excel, and PowerPoint (with Outlook as a tasty side dish), OneNote, Access, and Publisher are also available in the full Office suite. These applications run as they always have on the desktop, but the cloud-based subscription plan model allows you to run all your Office applications on multiple devices, including your desktop, laptop, tablet, and even your smartphone; even better, when you switch to using a different device, Office 365 will let you pick right up where you left off. And because updates are streamed from the cloud, Office 365 ensures that your applications are always up to date.

MS Office 365 Logo
 
And for those times when you just need to get to your documents and do some basic work on them, there’s Office Web Apps, which are versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote that run in a web browser (and are included with Office 365). Office Web Apps let you work online via a web browser, so you can access and edit your documents and create new ones from virtually any computer. Office Web Apps offer easy sharing and collaboration tools, too.

Office 365 PowerPoint Web App

Communication

As anyone who’s ever worked in an office knows, communication is key to getting anything done. Office 365 offers a variety of communication tools to stay in touch and up to date with coworkers and personal contacts.

Office 365 Email App
 


There’s of course webmail with Microsoft’s completely revamped Outlook.com, and for more heavy-duty communication needs, Office 365 offers Exchange Online business email, calendaring, and contacts across devices so you’ll never miss a beat. Your mailbox boasts 25GB of storage and includes anti-virus and anti-spam protection.

 

Office 365 comes packing a serious unified communications solution called Lync Online. Lync enables video conferencing, instant messaging, screen sharing, and even telephony, so you have myriad ways of communicating with colleagues or clients—sometimes multiple colleagues and clients at once—and it doesn’t matter if you’re sitting at your desk or out and about with your smartphone. Lync Mobile enables you to join online meetings with one click, so you don’t have to dial a conference center number and remember passcodes.

Collaboration and Storage



Lync Online is great for meetings, but you really need more than that. Office 365 offers additional tools for collaborating on projects, documents, and presentations with SharePoint Online. You can use SharePoint team sites to keep a central repository of all project-related documents across the team.  Each user also has SkyDrive Pro which serves as their own cloud storage for documents that they can easily share with other colleagues or externally with partners or customers. So to work on a document together, instead of sending email attachments back and forth, taking up email storage, and making it difficult to keep track of who’s working on which version of a file, everyone is working on the same exact file.

In addition to collaboration, SharePoint Online and SkyDrive Pro both allow you to sync all the online documents to your devices so you have access to them even when you are offline. When you make edits while offline, it’ll remember that and automatically sync back to the share when you are online again. No more manually pulling down files from a share to a USB or to the desktop so you can work on them on a plane.

SharePoint Online also has its own built-in social network, Yammer, to use for your business. Employees can safely post and share documents and files, keep track of colleagues’ progress on a given project, and discover and get in touch with others within a larger organization that you might not otherwise know about.

Options Upon Options

There are numerous options for Office 365 subscription plans, and they range from large-scale enterprise deployments that give companies with thousands of employees everything but the kitchen sink to basic plans with core applications geared more toward home users.

With Office 365, Microsoft has developed something pivotal in the business, educational, and personal, worlds by bringing together all of the best ideas pertaining to productivity. It’s a combination of the company’s Office software, storage capabilities, and communications products with the everywhere, always-on nature of the cloud, which is an incredibly powerful cocktail.

Transform the way you work with Office 365 Learn More.

Thank you to Microsoft Office 365 for sponsoring this article. Learn more about how Microsoft Office 365 can improve productivity for your team at: Microsoft Office 365.



Thank you Microsoft Office 365 and Technorati for being sponsors of this article. All opinions expressed here are my own.
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RWilliams replied on Thu, Oct 10 2013 3:55 PM

I hated the idea of a cloud-based Office before it launched, but I signed up this past spring and have been rather impressed. I need to install the suite on multiple PCs, sometimes juggling around, so I like the fact that there's no hassle in deactivating and reactivating licenses... because quite frankly, ringing up Microsoft's customer support line is a major chore.

I still like the idea of boxed copies, but since Microsoft prices those to be stupid expensive, I'm glad Office 365 is at least a really good value.

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earthzero replied on Thu, Oct 10 2013 4:18 PM

I will definitely second that. I was a bit irritated by the thought of a subscription Office suite as a service as well, but now that I have it for only $99 for the year and can install it on multiple PCs, it's actually pretty awesome. MS Office is still the most robust suite of office apps out there. Skydrive integration and OneNote are also pretty cool.

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