There is a lot of hype out there about the cloud and its adoption into the market and Microsoft’s Office 365 is one of the technologies often mentioned in relation to this but what is Office 365 and what does it mean to you?
Firstly what Office 365 is not it’s not a single product or application, it’s not a different version of office and last but not least for the end user it’s not something different. In fact as an end user if your organisation made the move to Office 365 in the morning you might not even notice. This is because Office 365 affects the behind scenes side of things.
When you implement Office 365 you essentially outsource your servers for the likes of Lync (Your Telephony System), SharePoint (Your Intranet) and Exchange (Your emails) this means that your IT Admin staff are no longer dealing with the day to day upkeep of your back end systems and can instead focus on support end users and new IT Projects. While all this changes behind the scenes you still have your same Microsoft Office 2010 on your pc as normal Outlook just now looks to a different server for your emails.
There are some additional online features that you can choose to use and if you have them I can highly recommend utilising them. These include Outlook Web access and Lync and SharePoint allowing you to send and receive your emails, make office calls and being able to edit and share office files on any computer, from anywhere and even on mobile devices as below:
Email: Called Outlook Web Access this online application allows you to send, receive and manage your email, calendar and tasks from almost any device and form anywhere. Also useful for when you forget to put on your out of office after you have left for your holidays.
Telephone: With the Lync client you can make and receive your calls that would normally come to your desktop on your laptop wherever you go. The mobile phone Lync apps currently do not allow telephone calls but do support instant chat online.
MS Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint: You can also your documents online through Office 365 SharePoint portal. These versions of the MS Office Word, Excel and PowerPoint (so called “thin clients”) are hosted online not on your local machine so when working from a desktop which is not your own you do not need to worry if they have office installed. These versions have less features but do have more than enough to do your day to day document creations and editing. They look very similar to your current MS Office applications as they use the same ribbon interface, you may in fact have seen it already if you have a free skydrive account you already have access to these MS Office online applications.
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