Office 365: Connect & Collaborate

The post below was written by Katherine Murray, the author of more than 60 books on technology and digital lifestyle. Her most recent books include Microsoft Office 365: Connect and Collaborate Virtually Anywhere (MicrosoftPress, 2011), Anytime, Microsoft Office 2010 Plain and Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), Microsoft Word 2010 Plain and Simple (Microsoft Press, 2010), and Microsoft Word Inside Out (Microsoft Press, 2010). She's also the coauthor (with Woody Leonhard) of Green Home Computing for Dummies (Wiley, 2009), and writes regularly for CNET's TechRepublic and Windows Secrets.

Read more from Katherine on her Connect & Collaborate website

The art – and science – of vibrant, virtual teamwork

By now you're sure to have noticed - our work world is changing. Doesn't it seem like fewer and fewer people come back from lunch on beautiful summer days? The halls seem empty. There's less office noise. On the one hand, that's a nice thing - fewer interruptions - but on the other, hey wait a minute, what are you missing?

Chances are that while you are toiling faithfully at your desk, many of your colleagues have discovered work without walls, that fabled opportunity where you can finish a report at a sidewalk cafe, look over worksheet formulas while waiting for your son at the dentist, or remote in to a virtual meeting just moments after you take a walk on the beach.

Yes, it's possible. And yes, it's already happening. And Office 365 - the subject of my latest book and the program used to create the words you're now reading - makes it easy and affordable too.

Also, a note about the coverage in the book: Some of you have written (love the notes--thank you!) and asked why I didn't cover more enterprise features in the book or, at least, give the Mac/iPad/Office 11 aspects a nod. I thought it would be helpful to explain that here.

This first book is focused specifically on Office 365 Small Business, designed to be a "getting started" guide for a new user who is just learning about working in the cloud and wants to get a small team (or teams) working together effectively using Office 365. We will be doing updates on the book as more features become available, however, so it is a work in progress. I do recognize that there are great solutions and customizations already being built for enterprise and that it is a rich area that really needs its own book. I will explore and cover enterprise features as I can in the Connect & Coblogerate blog (until someone gives me the nod to go ahead and write an enterprise book, which I'd love to do.)

On the Mac coverage, when I was writing the book, the support for Macs was still unfolding and so all I included was some of the basic info about connecting. I also didn't have a Mac then (but now I do), and I'm thinking about an iPad 2 (tempt me! tempt me!) but I've been holding out to hear more about a Win 8 tablet (which I really, really want). So the multi-device/cross-platform coverage will continue, but it wasn't a major part of this first book. Stay tuned on that. [Update September 18: Well, after watching the BUILD keynotes, I bought a Dell Due Inspiron because Sinofsky said they've been using it in the lab to test developer bits of Win 8. It will arrive next week, and I'll be able to post more about Office 365 in the tablet world. Stay tuned. :)]

Thanks for the good suggestions!

What's new

Where we go from here This site is designed to help you learn what you need to know about Office 365 in order to make your virtual work - that is, the work you do outside the office when you're logging in remotely - successful and even fun. Along the way you'll learn practical techniques for helping a virtual team really "gel," managing virtual projects, holding online meetings, and much more. I hope you find much you like and that you'll take a minute to send me a note about questions you have or additional content you'd like to see.

I think Microsoft Office 365 is one of the smartest products to hit the clouds in a long time, and it's only going to get better from here. So unchain yourself from that desk and come out and float around in the afternoon sun. We promise you'll get some work done while you do.

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