Now that the Office 365 Preview site is up for those that want to see what the new wave of Office 365 looks like, I am taking the opportunity to provide a high level preview for those that are interested. This is by no means an in-depth look at any new features (those will be next), but rather a bird’s eye view of things to get excited about. The screen prints below are rather small, but you can click on them to expand to a larger size.
For those that have taken part in the Office 2013 preview (http://www.microsoft.com/office/preview/en), the new Office 365 environment will offer many similarities. Obviously all the Microsoft teams are working together on the upcoming wave of software/services rollouts to ensure a consistent look and feel.
Additionally, the often annoying characteristic of multiple windows popping up when navigating the Office 365 portal has been changed to a more streamlined single-window pane. You can see below that the majority of the administration options are presented in the same location, with the selected user’s data displaying off to the right.
Of course, a separate window still pops up for editing the user, but I like the more neutral tones and classier fonts:
Ok, enough of the “look and feel” you say, and on to the new stuff! Well, in case you didn’t see it in the earlier screen print, Office 365 is now supporting Public Folders! (That’s right…despite years of being told they would go away at some point even for Exchange on-premises…). Now you will be able to create Public Folder Mailboxes and populate them with Public Folders:
Data Loss Prevention templates are now available to actively monitor all email for sensitive content and enforce protection requirements. A subset of the templates are seen here:
As has been Microsoft’s tendency, they have again added even more functionality in to the GUI, rather than leaving admins as dependent on PowerShell as they were in previous versions. For example, you can now create Equipment mailboxes straight from the GUI:
Lync Online provides more customization, and includes more GUI access to their newly available Lync Online Plan 3 (Lync to Phone). Additionally, Meeting Invitation customization is now available:
Although SharePoint isn’t my forté, it’s clear to see that a change has been made here as well:
Above and beyond the Office 2013 download being available, Office 365 now also includes SharePoint Designer 2013 as well:
The whole experience is very exciting, as Microsoft continues to rapidly grow their Office 365 offerings while staying competitively priced in the market. I’m anxious to see what the final product will look like!