October 2017 - Updates for Microsoft Office 365

Ross MacKenzie

Office 365’s reach has extended even further, with the productivity suite being introduced to a further 96 territories, including Antarctica. That takes the total to 246 markets in 44 languages and, for those of us already using the services, a number of new updates were introduced last month.

Content-creation features

Several cloud-based features were introduced in the area of content creation, starting with a revamp of Translator in Word. Supporting 60 languages, the feature allows you to translate documents or sections of text and save the translation as a separate document file.

Commercial subscribers can use the ‘Tell Me’ function to search Word, Excel, and PowerPoint content from across their organisation, as well as sharing files and re-using slides, graphs, and tables from existing documents. Another new feature is the introduction of Immersive Reader and Read Aloud, two new mobile learning tools for Word on iPad. These are designed to be useful for users with learning difficulties such as dyslexia as they allow content to be viewed in different ways and make it easier to recognise and correct mistakes as you go.

File management

As part of the last major Windows 10 update, you can now access your OneDrive and SharePoint files on demand. What this means in practical terms is simple double-click access to your cloud-based files but with the ability to designate them as ‘online-only’ again at any time if you need to free up space.

You can also now use 3D objects in OneDrive without the need for any browser plug-ins. These objects can be imported into Word, Excel and PowerPoint files to give your content a whole new dimension – quite literally!

Online toolkit

The online toolkit has also been expanded with a couple of new offerings. Visio Online is a web-based version of the diagramming and vector graphics app. Subscribers are able to present complex information in a number of different ways as they are now able to create, edit and share their diagrams online.

MyAnalytics is a productivity tool that can help individuals and teams through personal analytics and intelligent coaching. The October update brings some improvements to the tool that help you visualise time spent with other individuals and groups, helping you to plan and track your time investments.

Starting with this update, Outlook.com consumer users will also be able to view LinkedIn profiles and information within the Outlook site. This feature was previously only available for commercial Office 365 subscribers.

Other updates

There were also a number of other minor updates last month. A new Office 365 gallery is available to provide subscribers with detailed info about the services and features available to them. Office Lens has been given multi-page support, allowing you to scan large documents and save them as one file.

The SharePoint Mobile app for Android and iOS now allows you to create and share news items across your organisation and there’s a new group insights feature in Yammer.

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