Microsoft unveils slew of updates coming to Office 365 apps

Posted:
in General Discussion
The company is introducing dozens of significant updates, including a new single iOS app incorporating Word and Excel, to be rolled out in stages over approximately the next year.

The Documents screen in the new Office for iPhone app
The Documents screen in the new Office for iPhone app


Microsofthas announced a major series of updates to all of its software, with most new features now or soon in beta, and the rest following in the next months. Key updates include improvements to individual apps such as Excel, but also to how businesses can collaborate using Microsoft software.

The announcements are all specifically to do with Microsoft 365. Where Office 365 is the subscription service that gets users products such as Word, Excel and Outlook, Microsoft 365 is a superset that provides these plus other business-specific tools.

Most of the updates will apply to Office 365-only users, including a new Office app for iPhone.

Office for iPhone

Microsoft Office for iPhone -- not iPad -- will be a single new app that is intended to replace the separate Word, Excel and PowerPoint ones. Currently only available in beta form via Apple's Testflight program, it presents a list of recent documents together with a single button for creating new ones.

Tapping that button gives the option to create what Microsoft calls Notes, Lens or Documents.

Notes is a shortcut to create a new OneNote document, though in the current beta it's far from clear how you then save this new note. And Lens is a camera app that Microsoft intends to be used for scanning documents.

The Documents button opens up templates such as blank new Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents, and actions such as scanning to a document.

This new Office app is currently solely for iPhones. While the Testflight beta will open on iPad, the app attempts to present an iPhone-sized screen, which then crashes.

Yammer and MyAnalytics

Few of Microsoft's announcements are about features and functions available now, or even with specific launch dates. An exception to this is Yammer, which has been updated and is available immediately.

The new Office for iPhone app
The new Office for iPhone app


Yammer provides businesses with a social media platform that is exclusive to that firm. It's similar in principle to Microsoft Teams or Slack, but is intended for large corporations rather than small groups.

If a business is using Microsoft Yammer, it now integrates better with Teams, with the document resource SharePoint, and Outlook email.

The new version also facilitates the broadcast of live events and the sharing of videos.

Also available now is an update to MyAnalytics, a feature within Outlook which now improves how users book meetings and schedule followup sessions. It's added a new feature to Outlook which optionally delays sending emails until the recipient's next office hours.

Excel and Cortana

Between now and the end of the year, there are improvements coming to both Cortana and Microsoft Excel.

The first update is available now, and sees Microsoft Excel being able to support natural language queries. Microsoft says this means users can ask a question of their data instead of writing a formula.

In December, Cortana is going to be able to compile a daily briefing email that will include task reminders, appointments, and also relevant documents.

By the end of 2019, Excel is going to gain scripting feature. Excel has long had AppleScript and Visual Basic scripting, but now it's adding the ability to create scripts through recording actions.

Open a workbook, click to start recording, and then every step the user takes is saved as a repeatable script that can be applied to the next or any worksheet.

Further away

Over roughly the next year, Microsoft is also going to be adding to what it calls Fluid Framework. This previously-announced service is intended to help developers and customers create collaborative co-authoring workflows across Office.

Microsoft says that the service is now going into a public preview stage for general users and a private preview, or beta, version for developers.

Also now in a beta form is a new Project Cortex. This is an AI-powered system that intends automatically collating important information from a corporation's network to create a central repository for all users.


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jdavie

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 9
    65026502 Posts: 379member
    I know I'm getting old when I'm most excited about updates to Excel. Can't wait for dynamic arrays to be rolled out to everyone.
    philboogieCloudTalkin
  • Reply 2 of 9
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,946member
    I have to say that Excel is absolutely brilliant but all of the other apps in Office 365 are a significant drop off from there. Please Microsoft, don’t kill the golden goose trying to add fluff to the rest of the Office 365 suite. 

    I’ve yet to find anyone who enjoys using Yammer. It seems like an artifact from the Cold War era compared to Slack. 

    Outlook is fine as long as everyone in the world you need to collaborate with is also using Outlook. Every time I get a meeting invitation from Outlook into Apple Calendar i cringe because it always ends up mangled and subsequent meeting updates are lost in the ether. C’mon already, have one app for email and another app for calendars. Quit mixing them together in a big incompatible mess. 

    Lens is pretty good in between the times Microsoft breaks it for no good reason. But you don’t need Office 365 to use it. 

    I loved OneNote on the PC but on iOS devices it feels too heavy with too many layers. There are simply too many better note taking apps on the iOS platform to carry around OneNote’s baggage when you’re trying to capture your thoughts quickly. 
    cornchipwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 9
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    dewme said:

    I’ve yet to find anyone who enjoys using Yammer. It seems like an artifact from the Cold War era compared to Slack. 

    Yammer is on life-support. Teams is replacing it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 9
    crowleycrowley Posts: 9,114member
    I can already record a macro in Excel, what's the change to the new scripting? 
  • Reply 5 of 9
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,200member
    razorpit said:
    dewme said:

    I’ve yet to find anyone who enjoys using Yammer. It seems like an artifact from the Cold War era compared to Slack. 

    Yammer is on life-support. Teams is replacing it.
    Yes my work has given up on trying to make a department full of middle aged white guys use Yammer. Now we are constantly regaled of the wonders of Teams. Thy are also pushing it as a way to avoid enabling access from the iPad to our MS servers (it’s prevented by the use of the app installing profiles whose main purpose beyond security is to empower the IT department to keep ipads second class citizens).

    We don’t give a shit about yammer et al and pick up the phone.
    edited November 2019 firelocksteveauwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 9
    dewme said:
    I have to say that Excel is absolutely brilliant but all of the other apps in Office 365 are a significant drop off from there. Please Microsoft, don’t kill the golden goose trying to add fluff to the rest of the Office 365 suite. 

    I’ve yet to find anyone who enjoys using Yammer. It seems like an artifact from the Cold War era compared to Slack. 

    Outlook is fine as long as everyone in the world you need to collaborate with is also using Outlook. Every time I get a meeting invitation from Outlook into Apple Calendar i cringe because it always ends up mangled and subsequent meeting updates are lost in the ether. C’mon already, have one app for email and another app for calendars. Quit mixing them together in a big incompatible mess. 

    Lens is pretty good in between the times Microsoft breaks it for no good reason. But you don’t need Office 365 to use it. 

    I loved OneNote on the PC but on iOS devices it feels too heavy with too many layers. There are simply too many better note taking apps on the iOS platform to carry around OneNote’s baggage when you’re trying to capture your thoughts quickly. 
    MS WANT you to use Yammer. They'll probably go out of their way to make using other apps harder.
    It is all part of their 'do it our way of not at all' programme.

    There is a significant part of their user base that don't want much more functionality than Office 2003 provided but those people are just not profitable enough for them but Business Users? Ker-ching.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 9
    Pffft. Still doesn't compare to Claris Works.
    steveauwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 9
    dewme said:

    Outlook is fine as long as everyone in the world you need to collaborate with is also using Outlook.
    Oh hell. Outlook is anything but fine. It’s the most god awful email client in the history of email clients. Okay, Lotus Notes might actually be worse, but nobody outside of IBM uses that crap while brain dead IT managers all over the world force Outlook upon us because they don’t know any better.

    First of all, as far as I know it’s the only email client out there (other than Notes) that uses a proprietary (and somewhat fragile) file format, while ever other client uses the standard mbox format. If your pst file gets corrupted, you’d better help the recovery tool is able to work its magic, otherwise you’re screwed. And why the hell can you not search multiple pst files at once? 

    And when is the Mac version going to be feature-compatible with the Windows version??
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 9
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,428member
    6502 said:
    I know I'm getting old when I'm most excited about updates to Excel. Can't wait for dynamic arrays to be rolled out to everyone.
    It will never replace my love of VisiCalc ;). Hey just realized those guys even started the joining and capitalization of the second word!

    Love the handle, loved my Apple ][ /sigh
    watto_cobra6502
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