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Office 365 on mobile phones

Office 365 to Go: The Windows Phone Experience

Setting up Office 365 on Windows Phone is easy enough, but be sure to spend some time configuring each app

If you’re new to one of the business versions of Office 365, you may be curious about setting up your account to work on various mobile devices. In the first in a short series of articles about configuring the service on these devices, I take a look at Windows Phone 8.

Note: Configuration on Windows Phone 7.x is actually very similar, though there have been some changes to the Office hub in particular.

Add the account

The first step is to add your Office 365 account to phone. You do this through Settings, System, Email + Accounts. Tap Add an Account and then choose Outlook from the list on the Add an Account screen.

add Office 365 account to phone

In the next screen, you’ll be prompted for your Office 365 user name (which is your full email address) and password.

Office 365 user nam

Tap the Sign In button when you’ve entered both. Windows Phone will note that the account has been added when it’s done. It will also provide a “Download Lync from the Store” option; if you’re using Lync in your environment, you should obviously download the app now, but you can do this at any time. Tap Done when you’re ready to move on.

Configure the account

When you add an Office 365 account as noted above, it’s configured with the default settings. You may wish to further configure the account however, and this unfortunately may require visiting a few different apps. First, however, you will see your new account listed in the Email + Accounts screen. Tap that to view the Settings screen for the account.

In this screen, you can configure the following options:

Account name: Windows Phone will provide a default name for the account based on your domain name, but you can change this to something that makes more sense for you if you’d like.

Download new content. This option determines how frequently changes to email, contacts, calendar, and/or tasks occur. Since the Outlook account type uses Exchange ActiveSync (EAS), it will utilize push technologies to ensure that all changes occur as soon as possible by default, and thus it will be set to
“as items arrive.” Generally speaking, this is most likely the correct setting, but you can change it if needed to a variety of intervals (“every 15 minutes”) or to “manually” if needed.

Download email from. By default, the phone will download email from the past 7 days but you can change this to 3 days, 2 weeks, one month, or any time as required.

Content to sync. By default, your Office 365 will sync with your Exchange Online-based email, contacts, calendar, and tasks. But you can disable any of these content types here if you wish.

Advanced settings. Below these options are other more advanced settings. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t need to access these settings for a typically configured Office 365 account.

Outlook Mobile (Mail)

You can access your Office 365 email from the Windows Phone Mail app, or what’s really called Outlook Mobile. By default, you’ll find a new Mail tile for this account on your Start screen (and in the Apps list) but you can optionally link this account with other email inboxes and access all your email from one interface, your choice. Be sure to spend some time in Mail Settings to make sure it’s configured to your liking.


In Calendar Settings, you can enable and disable individual calendars from each connected account. So if you have multiple calendars in Office 365, spend a moment here to make sure you’re only seeing the ones you want. Also, the option “Show to-do’s on the calendar” relates to Exchange Online tasks. It’s enabled by default.

People hub

The People hub is the integrated Windows Phone contacts management system. If you’re in a larger organization, you’ll discover that it doesn’t load your entire corporate address list by default. But you can search for users and you’ll see as you type that users from the address list pop-up in the search results.

Windows Phone contacts management system

You can also access the “Search [account name] directory” at the end of the search results to find users on the email server. This will return a much longer list.

Office hub

Visit the Office hub and you’ll see that your SkyDrive Pro site (formerly My Site) and team site have been added to the list of Places.

Office hub

But you can also arbitrarily add other SharePoint locations to Places using the New app bar button. This can include other libraries in the same Office 365 account, or libraries from any other Office 365/SharePoint/SharePoint Online account you may have. Yes, you can mix and match. Just grab the URL you need by visiting the site with your PC’s web browser.

OneNote Mobile

If you use SharePoint Online in Office 365 to store OneNote notebooks, you can open those notebooks in the OneNote Mobile app in Windows Phone. These notebooks should appear automatically, but if they don’t, here’s a tip: You can find them in the Office hub by navigate to Places and then the location where the notebook can be found. Once you do open it in OneNote, it will always be accessible from the app.

Lync 2013

If you didn’t download the Lync app at the end of the account set up, you can do so at any time by visiting the Windows Phone Store. If you use search, make sure you grab Lync 2013 and not the older Lync 2010.

Lync just requires you to sign in with your user name and password and is generally pretty straightforward to configure.

SharePoint Newsfeed

While the Office hub in Windows Phone offers the functionality provided by the SkyDrive Pro mobile app that is coming soon to other mobile platforms, what’s missing, of course, is the SharePoint Newsfeed app, which you need to know about and then find/download manually. You can find this app in Windows Phone Store, of course.

The SharePoint Newsfeed app connects you to the social networking aspects of SharePoint Online in Office 365, so you can keep up with the projects and people at the company you work at. It’s sort of a Facebook for work, if you will, and provides views for feeds you’re following, news, mentions, and me (which includes, among other things, quick access to any SharePoint information you’ve tagged.)

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