Microsoft Previews Office 365 Groups, Oslo Apps
Office 365's future comes into sharper focus with a new, deeply integrated social layer and an app that surfaces the most relevant activities and interactions.Microsoft is setting the stage for a more intelligence-driven and social Office 365 experience at the company's SharePoint Conference March 3 to 6 in Las Vegas. The software giant is previewing a handful of new features during the event that the company expects to roll out during the next 12 months, according Julia White, general manager of Microsoft Office. The sneak peek "enables us to showcase and foreshadow what we're doing in a more transparent way," said White. "Some of that is very early, but we're showing all live code," she added. Besides giving businesses a glimpse into the future of its cloud-enabled Office 365 suite, Microsoft is showcasing how the new features can extend social collaboration and analytics capabilities deep into the daily lives of mobile workforces. Among the newly announced forthcoming Office 365 features are the company's new Oslo app and its underlying Office Graph, which Microsoft describes as the "new Office 365 intelligence fabric." Describing Office Graph as an intelligence layer that resides "under the hood and never exposed to the user," White told eWEEK that the technology leverages machine learning and links to Microsoft's productivity software portfolio (SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, Yammer and Office) to help business users combat information overload and cluttered inboxes by serving up "really personalized and relevant views of their world." The goal is to enable users to keep better tabs on initiatives and projects—and the conversations surrounding them—without getting pulled into endless email chains that often end up getting splintered or derailed.
Office Graph will first manifest to users as Oslo, a visual, mobile-optimized application that surfaces meaningful messages, documents and emails on cards that users can tap to invoke the relevant Office app or action. This compares with the traditional inbox, which prioritizes emails by "who hit send last," White said. Office Graph powers a completely personalized dashboard that provides information, ideas and files based on "the things that matter most."