Microsoft Office 365 Review – Part 2: Apps provided by Office 365

In the last post we looked into different Office 365 plans and also the initial setup and Admin Centre.  Now lets take a closer look into the apps provided by Office 365.

Microsoft Office Web Apps/Professional Plus

While the Small Business plans come with Office Web Apps, Exchange, Lync and SharePoint, the version for Enterprise also includes full fledged Office Professional Plus 2010 suite. In case you already have a version of Office installed, then you can upgrade it to Office Professional Plus.

On the user start page, there is an option called Setup Office Desktop apps. By clicking in the link, you will be taken to a page where you will see the available options to configure your desktop apps to work with Office 365. From there you can download the Office Desktop Apps setup wizard. It will analyse your computer and will help you make necessary changes to your installed apps so that it works with Office 365.

desktop-app

Note that if you already have a version of Office installed, whether it be Professional Plus or any other type of license, the above wizard will configure it to work with Office 365. See the advanced sharing options such as Save to SharePoint added to the Save & Send menu.

word-collab

All users of Office 365 will also be able to use Office Web Apps. Office Web Apps as you might know is a stripped down version of MS Office available online. Thus you can edit Office documents from any computer with an internet connection even if doesn’t have Office installed. Of course you will not get all the features of Word or Excel, but it is very much sufficient for some basic editing. You can choose  either Office Web Apps or its desktop counterpart (if you have it installed) to edit documents.

Outlook/Exchange

The web version of Microsoft premium email client looks similar to its desktop version. Hence those who have already used Outlook 2010, there won’t be a learning curve.  Apart from email management, you also get to use the calendar, contacts and task feature.

outlook-WA

You can see the online status of a contacts just next to their names. You can also begin a chat or schedule a meeting by right clicking the contact name and choosing the respective option. I think Outlook web app has done pretty well in this regard of making available the right options at the right place. But I did encounter some problems at times. Message notification regarding other users of my account of Office 365 was blackened even though I had added it to safe sender’s list. The problem disappeared when I double clicked the email to open in a new window.  I hope these issues are sorted out before the final release.

Exchange online is one of the great benefits of Office 365. Now even a professional or a Small business can get access to the enterprise level application for just about 6$. There are no hassles of maintaining the server or that of licensing.

You can access the emails via Outlook, Outlook Web App or through popular mobile phones such as iPhone,Android Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.  The online exchange server acts as a centralized location for all of your devices. Thus if you send an email from your mobile, the same email will be shown in the send folder of Outlook.

exchange

Like the local Exchange server you can manage mailboxes, distribution groups and external contacts. Another feature of Exchange is role groups. There are nine predefined role groups but you are free to create new roles. Roles make it easier to assign different rights to different departments. For example a member of Help Desk section can reset passwords and can access mailbox settings that the owner of that mailbox has access to.

roles

Exchange also allows you to run different audits to see the changes made to mailboxes such as audit for mailboxes that have been accessed or changed by someone other than the owner.

Other features of Exchange include Forefront Online Protection to configure IP safe listing, perimeter message tracing, e-mail policies and Unified Messaging dial plans to define the format for telephone numbers of your company.

Next up in the review is SharePoint and Lync!

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Currently pursuing Bachelors in Electronics, the author Nithin Ramesh is a technology blogger. Apart from technology his other interests include cricket and rock music.