As part of the simplification of its portfolio, Microsoft is dropping the Lync name as it rebrands the business messaging and conferencing tool. The name will change to Skype for Business in the first half of 2015, and interface tweaks will see the business version of the tools closely mimicking that of the consumer Skype product.
The aim is to create a more uniform experience for people using Microsoft's communication tools at home and in the office. After a decade of Skype, and bearing in mind the success of Lync, it was almost inevitable that the two products would ultimately become one, and that day is now almost here. As Microsoft puts it: "The magic of Skype and the power of Lync are coming together".
When Microsoft released Office for iPad, it was immediately popular and shot to the top of the app charts. This was hardly surprising, as people had been hoping for it ever since Apple's tablet was released. Sure, Apple's iWork solutions are fine, but Office is, well...Office. It is the gold standard for getting things done.
The problem was, while the apps were free, editing was not. You see, downloading Word, Excel and PowerPoint cost nothing, but it did not function as consumers had hoped. Only viewing office documents is a frustrating experience -- people want to edit too. The solution for this was to become an Office 365 subscriber, which unlocked the full potential of the software. While many recognized the value in being a subscriber, it is a hard sell when Apple's offerings are much more affordable (or free with a new iPad). Microsoft responded by making editing a free feature and all are happy right? Not so; what about the people who already paid? Great news, you can get a refund now!
Many businesses are put off moving their systems to the cloud by the complexity and time involved to complete the transfer process.
To help overcome this problem management tools specialist Metalogix is launching a Cloud Acceleration Suite along with a Partner Program to help businesses deploy collaboration abilities on their chosen cloud platform.
With Azure and Office 365, Microsoft already has a strong position in the business cloud market. But the company isn't resting on its laurels, it used this week's Convergence 2014 conference in Barcelona to announce a number of innovations to help enterprises gain greater benefit from the cloud.
The main announcement is that the latest Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2015 release will be generally available in December this year. The new release is designed to address the growing need for businesses to deliver seamless experiences to their customers by helping them break down the barriers between divisions.
At the Inbox Love event in Mountain View, CA, Microsoft revealed the latest way for developers to bring extra functionality to the user. Starting next year, Outlook.com will support third-party apps, known -- uninspiringly -- as Apps for Outlook.com. Just a couple of days ago, Microsoft launched new APIs and SDKs to give developers new options for working with Office 365, and the latest announcement caters for development in the cloud.
Although Apps for Outlook.com will not officially launch until next year, Microsoft is giving developers the chance to start creating apps for the Outlook Web App. Those with a penchant for coding are invited to come up with new, exciting, and productivity-enhancing ways for users to interact with Outlook.com.
As if giving Office 365 subscribers unlimited OneDrive storage was not enough, Microsoft today has some more news relating to its office suite. Previously only available as previews, a batch of new Office 365 APIs open up new opportunities for developers to tap into Office with their own apps. With APIs available for mail, files, calendar and contacts, there's lots of potential for the future.
One of the first big names to take advantages of the new APIs is IFTTT, the online automation service. The new APIs mean that it is possible for IFTTT to react to things that happen in Office applications -- so it is possible to set up an alert when an email matching certain criteria arrives. There are also updates to the Android and iOS SDKs for developers to work with.
Microsoft just stoked the fires of the cloud storage wars once again. There have been various updates to OneDrive in recent months. Microsoft lifted the 2GB file size limit all the way up to 10GB, and we showed you how to up your free storage to 15GB. But if you’re an Office 365 subscriber, things just kicked off -- storage limitations are a thing of the past.
Starting today, Office 365 Home, Personal and University plan subscribers have unlimited OneDrive storage. Store as much as you like in the cloud for free. Well, free if you ignore the subscription you've paid, or continue to pay each month. The roll out to the consumer level subscriptions starts today, but you'll need to take action if you're interested.
Microsoft is introducing new, cheaper Office 365 subscriptions to businesses in a bid to encourage small businesses into using its office suite. The cost of an Office 365 Personal subscription remains at $6.99 but small to medium-sized businesses -- those with fewer than 300 employees -- are now able to snap up a subscription for just $5 per user per month (which doesn’t match the $1 offer from GoDaddy).
Before you get too excited about this, there is something of a catch. Firstly, there is a commitment to subscribe for a year, and the cheapest package, Office 365 Business Essentials, does not allow for Office's apps -- Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and so on -- to be installed. Opt for the cheap subscription and you're stuck with Office Online.
Most of us have hopefully managed to get off the sinking ship that was Windows XP. As much of a recent memory as that has become, a new end of life is rearing its head, and it's approaching fervently for those who haven't started planning for it. Microsoft's Windows Server 2003, a solid server operating system that's now about eleven and a half years old, is heading for complete extinction in just under 300 days. Microsoft has a fashionable countdown timer already ticking.
Seeing as we just finished our second server migration in a single week (a personal record so far), sharing some of the finer aspects of how we are streamlining these transitions seems like a timely fit. This braindump of sorts is a collection of best practices that we are routinely following for our own customers, and they seem to be serving us well so far.
People are slowly but surely coming round to the idea of SaaS (Software as a Service), and this is particularly true for businesses. Microsoft is making something of a success of pushing monthly or annual subscriptions for Office 365, but there's still a massive untapped market -- small businesses who are simply not in a position to make additional financial commitments each month. GoDaddy is helping to wipe out this obstacle by offering a package aimed at getting small businesses up and running online for just $1 per month; and the package includes Office 365.
As this is GoDaddy, it should come as no surprise that there is a web-focus to the package. For $1 a month, businesses can bag themselves a custom domain and take advantage of the Website Builder tool as well as site hosting. On top of this, there's round the clock support and $50 worth of Bing credit to help with online promotion. This is already a great value deal, but throwing Office 365 into the mix is going to be too much for many businesses to resist.
Office 365 users are encouraged into storing their files in one of two locations -- locally or on OneDrive. Microsoft's own cloud storage service is neatly integrated into its office suite, just as it is into Windows 8.1. There are ways to integrate other services such as Google Drive, but today Box launched a beta version of Box for Office 365 in a bid to bring the cloud service to Office. The new beta was announced at Box's BoxWorks event. There are also plans to add Box integration to Office for iPad, although no timescale has been suggested for this.
The idea behind integrating Box into Office 365 is simple, but the beta page explains: "With our new Box for Office desktop app integrations, you can easily open, edit, share and save any file from Box seamlessly within Word, PowerPoint and Excel".
Seemingly refreshed after a day off yesterday, Microsoft now hits us with two snippets of Office-related news. iPad users will now be able to sign up to a monthly Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home subscription from their tablet. Nothing has changed about the subscription model itself, but now if you try to do something in the free version of the Office apps that require a subscription, you can upgrade there and then without having to scuttle off to your computer. You may be reading a Word file free of charge, but if you decide you want to edit it, you can upgrade with a few taps.
As before, Office 365 Personal will set you back $6.99 per month. It can be installed on one PC or Mac as well as one tablet, and bumps OneDrive storage from 15GB to 1TB. For $9.99 per month, Office 365 Home can be installed on up to five computers and five tablets. Microsoft will be hoping that the added convenience will encourage more people into making the jump into a subscription.
Microsoft has released its earnings results for the fourth fiscal quarter of the year (that is Q2 CY2014), posting revenue of $23.38 billion, gross margin of 15.79 billion and operating income of $6.48 billion. As a result, earnings per share (EPS) came in at $0.55 (below analyst expectations of $0.60).
Revenue, gross margin and operating income are higher than a year before, when they reached 19.89 billion, 14.29 billion and 6.07 billion, respectively. However, EPS is lower, dropping from $0.59. "We are galvanized around our core as a productivity and platform company for the mobile-first and cloud-first world, and we are driving growth with disciplined decisions, bold innovation, and focused execution", says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. "I'm proud that our aggressive move to the cloud is paying off -- our commercial cloud revenue doubled again this year to a $4.4 billion annual run rate".
In the second of our (hopefully) regular competitions, we have quite a treat for you. You've read the headline so you should know what's up for grabs, but if you missed it, the prize is a year's subscription to Office 365 Home worth $99.99.
Microsoft has very kindly donated a full subscription for us to give away, but this is more than just one copy of the world-famous office suite -- you can install Office 365 Home on up to five PCs or Macs, as well as five tablets. Enough for all the family!
Eric Ligman, Microsoft Senior Sales Excellence Manager, has released a whole new batch of free ebooks, covering topics such as Windows 8 and 8.1, Windows 7, Office 2013 and Office 365, Azure, Lync 2013, and SQL Server. There are ebooks and resource guides for all things Microsoft.
For the past few years, Ligman has been writing posts in which he has given away almost 150 free Microsoft ebooks, and now he has another 130 more titles available to download for free, in addition to all the ones previously offered. Yes, that's right -- there are now close to 300 titles available.