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Office 365

Microsoft is, as of the middle of last year, the most widely used enterprise cloud service by user count. It’s a huge turnaround and it’s largely due to the increased adoption of Office 365, which continued to evolve throughout 2017.

The downside of that evolution is that it can be tough to keep track of what’s new in Office 365, which is why I’m going to highlight some of the biggest changes that happened to Office 365 in 2017.

New Applications

One of the most obvious ways Office 365 changed in 2017 was by adding new applications. Some of these were free additions to some Office 365 plans, others are paid add-ons, but they all try to fill functionality gaps.

Teams: Have you heard of Slack? If so, think of this as Microsoft’s answer to that product. If not, Teams combines instant messaging, file storage, scheduling and ad hoc team building to make it easier to manage products.

Flow: This is another Microsoft answer to a popular web service. In this case, it’s the Office 365 equivalent of IFFT (If This, Then That). Need to create a Contact in Dynamics 365 when someone joins your MailChimp list? Or automatically save email attachment to OneDrive? That’s what Flow is for.

Planner: This free project management app is designed to be less complex than Microsoft Project, but more comprehensive than Outlook and OneNote. It offers a task board to easily add and assign tasks within a small team.

There were other applications added to Office 365, including Delve and Dynamics 365, but the three above are the most likely candidates for getting more out of Office 365 without radically changing your business.

Easier Adoption

Web interfaces are always changing, but this year Microsoft made some changes for users and admins to make it easier to adopt Office 365.

App Launcher: You may have noticed a new tile in the top-left corner of your Office 365 applications recently. It’s called the App Launcher and its Microsoft’s way of making switching apps easier. It displays all your apps as a pop-out menu when clicked and, speaking from experience, it makes using multiple Office 365 applications much easier.

New Reporting Portal: This involves as series of reports and charts that give you visibility into your organization’s use of Office 365. You will be able to see how many users have used each application as well as a key summary of the activity within each product. You can also pivot the reports to different reporting periods (7, 30, 60 and 90 days) to identify trends.

Canadian Datacenters

As of May 2017, public organizations and other potential cloud customers with concerns about where data is located can feel comfortable moving to Office 365 thanks to a new set of Canadian datacenters. The new datacenter region adds in-country data residency, failover and disaster recovery for core customer data at rest to customers in Canada. The new datacenter region is comprised of two geographically distributed datacenters located in Toronto and Quebec City.

This list doesn’t cover all the changes to Office 365, but it gives you a sample of some of the most visible and impactful changes. 

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