Microsoft Continues Its Quest to Reduce Workflow Friction

The expansion of the Groups-creating ability in Outlook is part of Microsoft's ongoing recognition that email is a core component of people's workflow -- it's where they communicate with colleagues, share files or even click to work within those files.

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The Redmond, WA-based software company recently expanded to the Mac OS the ability to create an Office 365 group in Outlook. Microsoft's emphasized how Groups can be used to easily facilitate communications or share assets everyone will need for a project. Non-Mac users have the ability to create Groups in Sharepoint, Planner, Teams and Yammer, as well as Outlook.

The expansion of the Groups-creating ability in Outlook is part of Microsoft's ongoing recognition that email is a core component of people's workflow -- it's where they communicate with colleagues, share files or even click to work within those files. Anything that keeps users in one app or workspace helps to reduce workflow friction. Adobe, which announced a strategic partnership with Microsoft last September, is extending the approach to reduce workflow friction by incorporating easy PDF previews in SharePoint and OneDrive, so users no longer have to launch a second application to preview PDFs. The company also announced new PDF Services into Word, Excel and PowerPoint: customers can now combine PDFs with Word docs, Excel worksheets or PowerPoint presentations in Sharepoint.

Another workflow-related feature Microsoft tucked into Outlook this month: "Zero-query search," which anticipates your search queries "recommendations powered by AI and the Microsoft Graph." Users simply move their cursor to the search box and see how well the Microsoft Graph knows what they want. Zero-query search is currently available for, SharePoint Online, and the Outlook mobile app. It will start rolling out to commercial users of Outlook on the web in August.


Gartner is predicting Microsoft will block all but subscribers from accessing Office 365's online services by 2020. If this is the case, this expands on an approach Microsoft unrolled in April 2017, where it told customers who had purchased perpetual-license version of Office that by April 2020, they can connect to Microsoft's cloud-based services (Exchange, OneDrive and Skype) only during the first half of their 10-year support lifecycle.

Microsoft has made their new admin center for Windows Server admins available in two versions with the release of Insider Preview 1806. One version is a preview for IT Admins so they can see and try out the latest additions to the management portal as it is being developed. The second version is the general availability option which will not be updated as frequently as the preview and gives admins a more stable and consistent portal for their daily workflow.

Google has updated their own toolset for recruiting and hiring new employees by releasing an update that strengthens their Hire service and its integration into G Suite. The update includes three new features: quick scheduling for interviews, auto-highlighting of candidates resumes looking for keywords from the job announcement and their appearance in the resume, and click to call integration to easily dial up the next candidate and log that call so other team members know it has been taken care of.

Facebook is offering nonprofits and educational institutions a deal: free access to the Premium tier of their Workplace collaboration tools. This includes community monitoring tools, IT admin tools, and integration with G-Suite. The Premium tier normally costs $3 per user per month.

Microsoft is making a new service available to Azure Active Directory customers called Azure AD Password Protection and Smart Lockout. This eliminates the need for end users to have passwords -- thus removing one possible vector for security breaches via social engineering or brute-force password guessing tools.



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About the Author(s)

Richard Hay

Senior Content Producer, IT Pro Today (Informa Tech)

I served for 29 plus years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer in November 2011. My work background in the Navy was telecommunications related so my hobby of computers fit well with what I did for the Navy. I consider myself a tech geek and enjoy most things in that arena.

My first website – – came online in 1995. Back then I used GeoCities Web Hosting for it and is the result of the work I have done on that site since 1995.

In January 2010 my community contributions were recognized by Microsoft when I received my first Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for the Windows Operating System. Since then I have been renewed as a Microsoft MVP each subsequent year since that initial award. I am also a member of the inaugural group of Windows Insider MVPs which began in 2016.

I previously hosted the Observed Tech PODCAST for 10 years and 317 episodes and now host a new podcast called Faith, Tech, and Space. 

I began contributing to Penton Technology websites in January 2015 and in April 2017 I was hired as the Senior Content Producer for Penton Technology which is now Informa Tech. In that role, I contribute to ITPro Today and cover operating systems, enterprise technology, and productivity.

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