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.
Office Web Apps is a great way to access your documents from almost anywhere on almost any device. It also provides a brilliant tool for groups of people to view and edit documents at the same time, removing the need to email back and forth multiple versions of an Excel spreadsheet for example. Everyone can see the most up to date version regardless of their location. The link below contains a video to show how easy it is to use Office Web Apps on the go.
The remote access capabilities that SharePoint Server 2010 and Office Web Apps provide are also of great benefit within educational institutions. From the case study (link below) Herrity says, “Students can connect to resources instantly and easily. Office Web Apps help students accomplish more. They can access applications through the browser, without needing software installed on their home machines. This removes many socio-economic issues.” Now, it does not matter whether students have the latest version of Microsoft Office installed on their home computers. Through the learning gateway, students can quickly and easily make changes within the browser based Office Web Apps, which are covered by the school’s licensing.
Office Web Apps
Office Web Apps is a great way for anyone to access a document from almost any device at anytime. However Office Web Apps may not be able to fully replace the software version, as they are only light in their functionality. This means that Office Web Apps will not have the same feature rich facilities that users are familiar with. This may or may not be a problem for some users. The system can be combined with the software version to provide a more complete package.
It is important to note that there may be limitations depending on the web browser you use or your clients use. Microsoft notes that it [Office 365] is fully supported by Microsoft Internet Explorer (7.x or higher) and partially supported by Mozilla Firefox (3.x or higher) and Apple Safari (3.x or higher). Other web browsers may have functionality issues.
This link details known issues with specific web browsers: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc263526.aspx
It should be noted that Windows XP Home and XP Media Center don’t support federated identity for authentication across firms’ IT infrastructure or partner IT systems using single sign-on (SSO).
Office 365 Plans
General feature limitations could occur as Office 365 has different plan levels, at different pricing levels. Potentially this means that depending on the budget the organisation has for the system, all the desired features may not be available.
Inactivity Periods are a good method to detect when a user’s activity stops and to then log them out of the system for security of personal data etc. Office 365 does not have this feature, and could potentailly leave data at risk of unauthorised modification or theft. Ultimately it’s the user’s responsibilty to protect their data either by logging out of the system when they move away from the PC or by locking the PC. Inactivity Periods are an extra layer of security, but not essential if users act responsibly.