Office 365 integration with the Office desktop apps appear to be quite useful and impressive, however, there are still some problems with it. One flaw we found was with the compatibility between web and desktop apps. I found my self rather annoyed that after creating a mock payrole Excel spreadsheet and uploading it to SharePoint Online, it could not be viewed on the 365 website, this was because the desktop appwas not fully compatible with the web app. There are certain features that the desktop app has which the web app cannot use, in the spreadsheet that I created I used validation fields in some cells, this feature was not supported int eh web app there for not accessible on 365. Granted the file can still be opened from the Cloud on the desktop app but the user might not always have Microsoft Excel installed on their machine. Although not fully explored this is true for other Office desktop features. I find this to be a huge flaw in Office 365 and I would hope that this is sorted out for the release version.
My first update, so far I have mostly been looking at both Web & Desktop app features with Office 365.
Not a lot of noise has been made about being able to upload Access Databases into Office 365 SharePoint Online as of yet, most of the focus has been drawn to the simpler applications such as Word and Excel. I find this to be quite a useful feature in Office 365. Access database forms are ideal for 365, they are best used for browsing records in database and also adding,
deleting and editing. For example a user can create a web database on Access 2010, create tables, forms, queries and reports. Once this is done, they simply go into options, set the page to automatically display a form or report (or whatever) once opened then go to file->Save & Publish, go to ‘Publish to Access Services’ and type in the URL or the site and a new folder name for it and click publish. I published a mock database onto the ADP site at http://adp.sharepoint.com/TeamSite/ADP%20Data/ which appeared almost instantaneously, I could then browse records in a form that I had produced.
I found this to be an incredibly quick and easy proccess with little effort or even knowledge required. Once displayed on the website it appeared to very visually appealing, looking exactly the same as it it did in Access.
The same can be done similarly with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. However for this Microsoft Sharepoint Workspace needs to be set up properly with Office 365 sharepoint online. Once this is configured properly the user can click save as, click the word/excel button, select wich workspace to upload to then select the subfolder they wish to display the document and click save, the document willt hen be on 365 Team Site or wherever the user chose to upload.
In an article by Michael Otey, the top 10 features of the service are suggested to be as follows;
- Team Sites
- Excel Web App
- Work Web App
- Outlook Web App
- OneNote Web App
- PowerPoint Web App
- Web desing app
- Lync 2010
- High availability
- Browser based access
For the full story, see http://www.sharepointpromag.com/article/office-365/top-ten-features-office-365-136405http://www.sharepointpromag.com/article/office-365/top-ten-features-office-365-136405
In an article on nathanneil.com there are some valid points about how the system works should any circumstances change. The first being what happens if the organisation wishes to leave the Office 365 service for something else. How will users be able to keep their data, emails and even retrtact any domain name they have linked to the service.
Another potential problem that could occur is when an employee leaves. What happens to their account (emails & data)? The article suggests that the organisation would be required to continue paying the subscription for this employee to keep the data secure and available.
A third point to note is that Microsoft say Office 365 can encrypt your emails, which is essential if you are in the medical or legal fields, but it will only work if you buy extra equipment and have an IT professional that is trained and experienced in connecting the rights management system to Office 365.
A fourth point to note is that although Microsoft offers a 99.9% uptime, this is only scheduled uptime. This means that Microsoft could give advance warning of any scheduled downtime. This time would not be included in the guarantee. The message here is that the organisation would not have any control over any downtime, and this ultimately could cause disruption to its staff and or students. I posted a question about this to the Office 365 community, here is the link: http://community.office365.com/en-us/f/148/p/5707/22878.aspx#22878.
There is a great feature made possible using SharePoint called co-authoring. Co-authoring will allow a team of people working together to work on a document simultaneously. Each user can see who is currently editing and which part of the document they are working on in real time. This feature will save the headache of emailing back and forth a document and attempting to draw together the most recent information.