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Microsoft Eases Application Boundaries With New Collaboration Tool in Word

As part of their approach to improving focus and eliminating extreme multitasking, Microsoft's expanding the capabilities of its applications so users don't have to switch between apps to complete a task. Also: Samsung's got new products, including a foldable phone, and Google's got new partners for its Grab and Go program.

Microsoft first encouraged its customer base to stop thinking about computing as operating systems-based by shifting attention to the mobile-first, cloud-first computing experience. Then it focused on the data generated by computing on any platform with digital transformation. And now, the company is promoting the idea that task flow is more important than staying confined to one app while you do it. As we wrote back during Microsoft Ignite:

One of the more compelling things about Microsoft Search is how it allows users to run application-dependent tasks from the search box. For example, if you're in Word, typing "Acc" in the search box brings up "Accept revision" or "Accessibility checker" as options. This streamlines task flow. And it subverts the current model of working within an app -- memorizing menu positions for different tasks or memorizing macros -- to emphasize working on a task rather than making mastery of the app a task unto itself.

But that's only part of Microsoft's overall effort. It's beefing up Teams so people can do … well, pretty much anything related to communicating and sharing, from moving files to editing together. There's no switching apps -- there's thinking of tasks.

Microsoft claims this approach will help save people time and money. According to their research, workers are interrupted every three minutes and extreme multitasking -- switching from application to application to application to application -- costs the U.S. economy an estimated $650 billion per year in productivity.For example, a new feature in Microsoft Word allows document authors to tag coworkers so their colleagues might come in to write, answer questions, or review the document, all from an alert email. Microsoft added:

Over time, Office will use AI to help fill in many of these placeholders. In the next few months, Word will use Microsoft Search to suggest content for a to-do like <<insert chart of quarterly sales figures>>. You will be able to pick from the results and insert content from another document with a single click. These capabilities are available today for Word on the Mac for Office Insiders (Fast) as a preview. We’ll roll these features out to all Office 365 subscribers soon for Word for Windows, the Mac, and the web.

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Microsoft's Olympia V2 testing lab allows enterprise customers to test Windows 10 Enterprise deployments plus management tools such as System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). Access to Office 365 is also available for management/testing.

This week Samsung held their annual developer conference and announced updates for its Bixby digital assistant, SmartThings platform, a new One UI experience for their handsets, and the Infinity Flex Display. That last item will deliver the first foldable phone from the company sometime in 2019. In conjunction with these announcements from Samsung, Google, who was holding their Android Developer Summit this week as well, unveiled their support for the new category of devices which they will refer to as Foldables. A device that combines the size of a tablet that can then be folded down into a phone form factor should be a great productivity device.

For those organizations using Office 365 and considering a move to Microsoft Teams, new training resources have been made available to IT Pros. The sessions cover how to plan for, configure and manage Teams Foundation, Windows Desktop Client, Meetings in Teams, Teams Phone System, Direct Routing, and the journey from Skype for Business to Teams plus a basic understanding of the move to Teams.

Google announced an updated list of partners for companies who want to establish their own Grab and Go system for loaner Chromebooks for their employees. These partners include Agosto, Appirio, Dialog, Econocom, Fourcast, Onix and Netpremacy. According to Google, this loaner program allows employees to quickly get back online after a hardware issue with all their content being immediately available on the loaner device when they log in to work. This, in turn, will prevent lost time and productivity while waiting for a hardware repair/replacement.

 A new series of blog posts from the Microsoft Graph Blog is the perfect vehicle for your developers to learn more about the why and how of incorporating Microsoft Graph data into your own tools. The plan is to have 30 days (blog posts) of content available once this series is complete. You can access the currently available articles at https://aka.ms/30DaysMSGraph.

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