Microsoft is going all out to ensure that it does not fall behind in the productivity space, as it deepens the integration between Office 365 and business networking application Yammer — which it owns — and as it introduces a slew of fresh features for its Office Web apps.
The company announced today that Yammer Enterprise will be included in all Office 365 Enterprise plans. This extends to existing Office 365 Enterprise customers as well, who will receive licenses for Yammer Enterprise.
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Furthermore, starting today, Office 365 Enterprise customers no longer need to purchase Yammer Enterprise licenses for users within their external networks.
Here is a list of updates that Microsoft has rolled out for Yammer over the last few weeks:
- Email Interoperability: Email users can now participate in Yammer group discussions via email without having to set up a Yammer account.
- Mobile Apps: The updated Yammer Windows 8 app and upcoming Windows Phone app feature improved live tiles, toast notifications and inbox functionality. A completely redesigned iPad app is coming soon.
- Document Conversation: Users can start a Yammer conversation for any document that is stored in a SharePoint Online document library or SkyDrive Pro web client.
- Messaging: Yammer gets new improvements for messaging, including typing indicators, real-time likes, and the ability to easily add multiple coworkers to a conversation.
When released earlier this year, Office 365 was billed as a vision for the next generation of work, with a partially cloud-based productivity solution that melds the traditional Office desktop applications and a number of Web services.
Office Web Apps — meant to complement the desktop Office suite — are included with Office 365, and are also available for free as a standalone suite.
Microsoft is continuously updating its Office Web apps, and the company announced today that real-time co-authoring is landing on Word, Excel and PowerPoint — a feature which services such as Google Drive and Quip already have. This means that you can edit documents simultaneously and see what other users are editing while you’re in the document itself.
New real-time presence helps you see where your co-authors are working in the document so that you don’t create conflicts as you edit. Additionally, the new ability to see changes to text and formatting as they happen will help you and your co-authors stay on the same page as your ideas develop and evolve.
The Word Web app gets a save-as-you-go feature, the ability to add headers and footers online, as well as insert page breaks, and improved table styles.
Other features for Excel that have been introduced include the ability to load workbooks that contain Sheet Protection, reorder sheets, drag and drop cells, and rename your workbook.
As Microsoft’s Office Web apps come up against offerings such as Google’s suite of services, there is a lot more impetus for the company to deliver value-added features. Microsoft is aiming for its Web apps to become a “comprehensive productivity experience on more browsers and devices — not just companions to the desktop applications” and this is just the start of its journey.
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