After putting out fires in the first couple of months, the ramp up begins.
One of the key advantages of subscription services from cloud providers is the addition of new features without the customer having to do any updates or experience any impact to operations.
With BPOS (the predecessor to Office 365) Microsoft aimed to release new updates and features every 90 days. After Office 365 was released there was nothing for a while as a few fires had to be put out, however we’re now seeing updates and new features being implemented almost on a weekly basis.
Here’s a brief listing of the improvements to Office 365 since its global release on June 28:
- Preview Office attachments from within Outlook Web App
- Clip-art support in PowerPoint Web App
- Additional browser support
- Improved shape editing and theme usage
Connected Account improvements in Exchange Online (more options to pull email from mailboxes outside Office 365)
SharePoint Online support for Google’s Chrome browser
Improved experience when using Windows Phone 7.5 (of course)
The ability to connect to databases from SharePoint Online via Business Connectivity Services
Self-service for SharePoint Online site collection restoration
The ability to invite external users (not on Office 365) to collaborate within your SharePoint Online environment (Windows Live ID is required)
Self-service for basic support issues via DIY troubleshooting tool
Support for Active Directory synchronisation on 64-bit architectures
Improvements for client access control (eg. blocking access to features)
Additional information and simplified process to add domains to Office 365
Support for Mac OS X Lion
Lync for Mac 2011 client released
Self-service for administrator password reset
There’s also a few other improvements in the works and beta programs which I am prohibited from disclosing. SharePoint Online specifically has received quite a few updates recently, however I’ll go into those in more detail in the next few weeks.
And while the improvements haven’t been released in such a fashion there is almost a new feature or improvement each week.
As both a client of Office 365 and an implementer of it for many customers in Australia it’s quite reassuring to see this process of continual improvement and I have personally taken advantage of more than half of the above-listed features.
What’s important is that Office 365 will continue to adapt with the needs of its customers and ensure that they have the best experience possible.
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.