Microsoft Office Online Users Can Chat While They Collaborate
Office document co-authoring and embedded comments aren't enough. Sometimes, successful collaboration requires an off-the-cuff remark or impulsive question to move projects along.
Microsoft announced that Office Online, the browser-based versions of the company's productivity apps (Word, PowerPoint, Excel and OneNote), now features Skype-powered chat capabilities when attached to an Office 365 commercial account.
Skype and Office Online are hardly strangers. In late 2014, Microsoft enabled Skype group chats in Office Online Word and PowerPoint documents stored on OneDrive for users who linked their Skype and Microsoft accounts. The new functionality, aimed at enterprise customers, builds on the company's latest efforts to foster collaboration among teams that use the software giant's Office 365 business and education plans.
"Simply click the blue Chat button to start a conversation with everyone editing in the browser at the same time, for any document stored in SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business," instructed Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, in a May 25 announcement. The button, which appears next to the list of a document's co-editors, creates a side pane that mimics a Skype chat window.
Microsoft is adding to the browser-based software's co-authoring capabilities, allowing users to chat as they work together on Office content.
Office Online's real-time chat capabilities are meant for quick questions, informal brainstorming and spur-of-the-moment reactions, not as a replacement for Comments, which persist after a document is saved.