Audience Targeting

Audience Targeting allows you to easily manage what users can see in terms of lists, list items and web parts etc. Currently within the University Audiences are used to direct content to either staff or students. This means that students only see what is relevant to them and staff only see what’s relevant to them. Within Office 365, it is not only possible to to apply this model to web parts and lists, but also individual items within a list. It is very easy to target a specific list item. When the item is added to the list, there is an additional field to add the target group, once added only this group will be able to view that particular item.

Audience Targeting is not a functioning feature within the Small Business edition of Microsoft Office 365, and therefore we have not been able to test this feature. It is only included as part of the Enterprise edition and above.

Microsoft OneNote

Following our introduction session with a handful of other colleagues, two topics arose that we had not previously looked into. One of these is Microsoft OneNote integration. OneNote has good integration, joining the other three applications that Microsoft offers through the Office 365 service. It is really simple to create a new note within the desktop application and then save it directly to a SharePoint site. All you need is the web address of the library you wish to save the file to. Once saved the document will then appear on the SharePoint site. Users are then able to edit the document directly within the browser. As with all the Web Apps some of the functionality is limited, and OneNote is no exception. As shown below the Web App is unable to show some parts of the document. It is unable to show drawings and the highlighting. Apart from this all the text remains, and enables the user to continue working when access to the client app is not available.

The screenshot below shows the document created in the client application.

The screenshot below shows the document as viewed in the Web Application.

Web Browser Support

We haven’t spoken about browser support much up until now. Here I will briefly discuss browser support, issues and our own experiences. The main functionality is supported well in most modern browsers. Below are the officially supported web browsers.

Operating Systems Web Browsers
Windows 7 (32-bit) Internet Explorer 8 or later
Firefox 3 or later
Chrome 6 or later
Windows 7 (64-bit) Internet Explorer 8 or later
Firefox 3 or later
Chrome 6 or later
Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 (32-bit) Internet Explorer 7 or later
Firefox 3 or later
Chrome 6 or later
Windows Vista with Service Pack 2 (64-bit) Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 7
Firefox 3 or later
Windows XP with Service Pack 3 (32-bit) Internet Explorer 7 or later
Firefox 3 or later
Chrome 6 or later
Windows XP with Service Pack 2 (64-bit) Internet Explorer 8
Internet Explorer 7
Firefox 3 or later
Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 Internet Explorer 8 or later
Firefox 3 or later
Chrome 6 or later
Mac OS X 10.5 or Mac OS X 10.6 Firefox 3 or later
Safari 4 or later

Web Apps

The Office Web Apps are only supported in the more modern browsers. They are fully supported in Internet Explorer 7 and later on most Windows operating systems, Safari 4 on Mac operating systems, and Firefox 3.5 and later on Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. Chrome is not listed as officially supported by Microsoft for the Web Apps, however as much as we have used it, there does not appear to be any problems.

There are some circumstances where these may be prevented from working correctly. These are; a 64 bit version of Internet Explorer is being used, Microsoft Office is not installed on the machine or or is earlier than Office 2003, security settings in Internet Explorer are preventing the Active X controls from running, the browser does not support Active X or the the client browser is Firefox, but the plug-in that enables Firefox to open Office documents is not installed.

Users are also able to view their documents on supported mobile devices. These are Internet Explorer on Windows Mobile 5, 6, 6.1 and 6.5, Safari on iOS, Blackberry 4.x or later, NetFront 3.4 or later, Opera Mobile 8.65 or later and Openwave 6.2 or later.

Outlook

Outlook is very well integrated, with both the desktop application and the web. One problem I have found is that it is not fully supported in Safari on Windows. At this stage it appears to be a compatibility problem rather than an incorrectly set preference preventing the full Outlook Web App loading. This issue is being investigated. Update – It turns out that Safari on Windows is not officially supported by Microsoft. So any problems that exist for anyone who uses this browser are not likely to be fixed in the near future, and it would therefore be recommended to use a different browser for any work with Office 365 on a Windows machine.

Migrating in the opposite direction

After reading some blog posts we were concerned about some of the questions these bloggers had asked and never got an answer to. One of this questions was “what happens if you want to leave Office 365 for something else?”, this could be problematic as we wouldn’t want to loose all our data if we wanted to migrate back to SharePoint 2010 (When we do upgraded I don’t think we would go back to SharePoint 2003 ever again). After asking the question in the community forum¬†I¬†quickly got an answer. It is possible to migrate back to SharePoint 2010 but only through a migration tool such as MetaVis, Quest or AvePoint.

I’m still not sure why Microsoft are getting people to rely on 3rd party migration tools so much, even they rely on them for migrating their own systems. You would have thought they create their own migration tools, at the very least they could have made some more money from it.

RE

Office 365 Suffers Outage

Microsoft suffered an outage of its Office 365 platform yesterday (17th August). The outage affected North America and was offline for a number of hours. The problems at the particular data centre affected some of Microsoft’s other services too such as, CRM Online and SkyDrive. It shortly became aware that the problem was only affecting email services, SharePoint Online and Lync remained operational. Microsoft later said in a statement that it took any service disruption very seriously and that any customers affected would be reimbursed their service charges per the conditions in the service level agreement.

More details on the story can be found here.