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Microsoft 365 for Business Picks up Productivity Features

When Microsoft 365 for Business was announced at Inspire 2017, the goal of the subscription package was to provide organizations a one stop shop of productivity, security and device management. Over the past year, it has continued to enhance the suite of software. Also this week: a new Google hardware key for 2FA, updates for Microsoft Teams, and Google IDs will soon be able to log into Azure Active Directory sites.

This week Microsoft announced several OneDrive and SharePoint related updates to its Microsoft 365 for Business subscription package designed to immediately increase user productivity. The updates will be rolled out to participants in the Office Insider Program before being broadly available. IT pros and system admins can activate these updates, which focus on file storage, access and analytics, through the Office 365 admin portal.

Video and Audio Transcription

Many organizations use third-party services to create written transcripts of video and audio files-based content. This feature will provide a complete transcript from more than 320 file types when played back, and uses the same AI-based technology as Microsoft Stream. This feature will automatically be activated once it is fully available. The transcripts will improve accessibility and discoverability of the content in these files.

Audio, Video and Image Search

Another enhancement thanks to AI, this capability will examine images and photos that are in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint and gather information to increase their discoverability. According to Microsoft, this native and secure AI will figure out where photos were taken, what objects are in them and pull out text, then index all of that information for future searches across OneDrive for Business and SharePoint.

Intelligent Files Recommendations

Using the Microsoft Graph, viewing files in OneDrive for Business and in the Office interface on the web will be more relevant. Since the Microsoft Graph understands your work flow, who you are working with, and content you share across Microsoft 365, it will be able to surface files that are timely and appropriate for your work.

There will also be an AI implementation that will help you re-use content as necessary by viewing files in your cloud storage and how they relate to your current project.

File Insights

Analytics is a big deliverable from AI algorithms because it allows users to understand usage patterns and who is accessing shared files. This feature was rolled out earlier this year but later in 2018 it will be made available for files as you are working with them inside Office applications.

Intelligent Sharing

Have you ever been in a meeting with team members and needed to share a project-related file? With this feature, users will be able to grab and share key content with attendees of a meeting. Showing off an Excel spreadsheet? A prompt to share that file to those in attendance will pop up to facilitate that process.

File Security

AI once again plays a role in helping to protect users’ files and customer data. In the case of ransomware, OneDrive for Business files are backed up to the second over the last 30 days, and can be restored at any point in that month-long period. This feature was actually made available earlier this year to both business and consumer customers. For those companies that need to pay attention to compliance and prevent data loss, all of these new features will help evaluate content that needs to be compliant with regulations such as GDPR.


Announced earlier this year, now Google has released its new USB-based Titan Security Keys so customers can use them as a physical second factor of authentication. These FIDO compliant keys use an open protocol, so they are cross platform compatible with multiple services as a second factor of authentication. Google is currently selling them in a two-key bundle for $50.

Two updates were announced for Microsoft Teams, the company’s collaboration suite for organizations that is part of enterprise level Office 365 subscriptions. The first is data residency for Teams data for customers located in Australia and Japan to assist companies in those countries to meet data storage regulations for various regulated industries. The second one is reaching full feature parity between Microsoft Teams and Skype for Business.

Microsoft surprised a lot of people this week when it opened access to a public preview that is testing the use of Google IDs with Azure Active Directory. Microsoft says that this feature, once its live, should make it easier for invited individuals to join up with their Google ID to access federated content without creating an additional account.

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