Sometimes, people get excited about strange things. Fortunately, I work in a technology role, so people are understanding when I start bouncing about the fact I’ve got a document from Office 365 opening on my phone.
I got access to an Office 365 beta account yesterday and I’ve been playing around with the basics. My initial reactions are all positive.
With regards to the SharePoint sites, I wouldn’t have known I was looking at a hosted service. The websites, the editing experience, the mysites, tagging, the Office Web Apps, content search, etc. all work just as they do in an on-premise deployment. It is a very rich experience and the fact that the Office 365 version of SharePoint looks so much like the on-premise version should remove doubts that may exist around have a hybrid solution. You could build aspects of your SharePoint solution in Office 365 and others on-premise and have users move between via links without noticing the switch from one to the other.
I’m impressed by the email experience. The Outlook Web App provided by Office 365 isn’t quite the same as Outlook, but it’s powerful enough. The experience should be familiar for those who regularly use Outlook and it’s a vast improvement over the various free email providers out there on the web. The Web App gives a browser-based view of email, calendar, contacts and tasks that is very similar to Outlook. It includes things like search, out of office messages, signatures and the ability to organise content into folders by rules. You can view shared calendars and do email delegation through the Web App as well.
Coming back to the subject I started with, it’s incredibly easy to get the Office 365 content onto my Windows Phone 7. With regards to email, you can go to the Phone section of the options and there is clear guidance on how to synchronise up a phone. I then took the information from that page about domain name, server name and so on, entered those details on the phone, and I was connected in less than a minute. I now have the options to log the phone’s activities, remotely wipe it and manage multiple phones, all through Office 365.
Connecting to SharePoint Online is likewise very easy. I went to the Office hub of my phone and scrolled across to the SharePoint section. I just had to enter the URL of the site along with my username and password (which are now stored in my accounts, so I won’t have to do that again) and I could synchronise the contents of a document library. I can now open and edit Office documents on my phone that are sitting inside Microsoft’s hosted SharePoint offering.
Anyone else find that exciting?
I’ll be blogging in more detail about different aspects of Office 365 as I explore the beta.