Office 365 was one of Microsoft's first products that began the As a Service revolution at the Redmond company.
Under the premise of Software as a Service, Microsoft is now able to deliver updates to the Office 365 suite of software on a monthly basis that provides not only security patches as necessary but new features to individual programs under the subscription.
This experience has translated to Windows as a Service (WaaS) and many other areas of the company and the impact shows in the upcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update.
Yesterday, Kirk Koenigsbauer, Corporate VP for Office, took to the Office 365 blog to announce new features that are backed by cloud based intelligent services to improve Word, Outlook and PowerPoint.
Microsoft Word: Researcher
This tool will be key to those of you who need to do research for papers and similar documents in Word. You'll be able to search for sources and content specific to your papers subject, and then make sure citations are added to your paper in the right format. There is no word yet on whether you'll be able to set preferences on which format you prefer for citations (APA, MLA or Chicago).
Researcher takes advantage of the Bing Knowledge Graph for the data you find to make sure it is from valid sources. The tool will soon be available on mobile Word apps.
Microsoft Word: Editor
The other new feature arriving for Word is Editor. You already have a personal digital assistant in Cortana but now you have a digital assistant to help you with your writing.
Think of Editor as "spell check and grammar check on steroids." Editor takes advantage of machine learning and natural language processing, areas Microsoft have made huge advances in over the last few years, to help refine your writing.
As a cloud based service which will analyze what changes people accept and which ones they reject, Editor will get better as more people begin using it and teaching it the difference between good writing and bad.
Researcher is available as of this week for Office 365 subscribers wh use Word 2016 on their PCs. Editor is expected this fall.
Check out this intro video about Researcher and Editor from Microsoft:
Outlook: Focused Inbox
You may have already seen this feature in the Outlook app for iOS and Android, but it is now being mae available to Outlook users on Windows, Mac and Outlook on the Web.
Using machine learning to analyze your own email opening and response patterns, the Focused Inbox will contain your most important emails in order to help you focus on what is most critical for you.
As you move emails between the Focused Inbox and the Other tab, that will improve the reliability of identifying those important emails.
Some of you may already be seeing the Clutter folder in your Outlook mail accounts. That is a similar service to sift less important emails out of your inbox. As the new Focused Inbox rolls out, that folder will no longer be used.
Twitter has introduced many of us to the concept of getting someone's attention by mentioning them in a tweet by including the @ sign and their Twitter handle.
Now just imagine that same ability in Outlook and the emails you write.
@Mentions in Outlook help you catch someone's attention as you write an email to co-workers to make sure they see what you are asking them to take action on.
A neat feature of @Mentions is that if you add someone in the course of drafting an email and they are not yet in the addressee list - they get added automatically. That means no mentioning someone and then forgetting to add them to the email.
This feature is already available to Outlook on the Web users and will land for Office 365 customers in the First Release program beginning in September.
Here is Microsoft's intro video for Focused Inbox:
As I read about this new feature it sure sounded a lot like Sway to be honest but it actually does move PowerPoint presentations from something that moves from Point A to Point B in a straight line and introduces the ability to flow in and out of various aspects of a presentation.
This feature ties in closely with the PowerPoint Designer and Morph features that were released last year and it seems like the goal is to do away with Death by PowerPoint. Something tells me that could be a very popular thing across the corporate world.
This video from Microsoft will give you an overview of how the feature helps your presentations: