Accessibility features in regular applications are now very much par for the course, but it's something of a different matter when it comes to online apps. While a growing number of websites have been designed to better meet the needs of people with sight or hearing problems.
The gradual move to the cloud means there are more and more online apps springing up, but many of them are slow to embrace accessibility options. Today Microsoft announces that Office Online -- the web-based version of its famous office suite -- has gained a number of key accessibility features designed to make it easier to use.
I'm not easily impressed. Lots of tech products see the light of day each year, but only a few I consider to be truly great. And by that I mean technology that I want to have in my life, that brings value, and, last but not least, that makes me feel good. The subjective factor is just as important, I believe, when it comes to the things that I have to look at and interact with on a daily basis. That's just the way it is, and I'm fine with it.
Because of this, a pretty long list can get really, really short in no time. My colleagues have already shared their favorite tech products of 2014 with you, and now the time has come for me to do the same. It's BetaNews tradition, after all. So, without further ado, here they are.
As businesses move their systems to the cloud security becomes a major concern but often applications don't offer the flexibility and ease of access that administrators need.
To address this need for users of Office, cloud security automation company Palerra has announced a partnership with Microsoft to add an extra layer of security to the Office 365 suite.
As more and more data gets moved to the cloud it's easy to forget that it still needs to be protected against corruption and loss.
Cloud backup specialist Spanning has a new solution for Office 365 users with the launch of an enterprise grade cloud-to-cloud backup solution. It's aimed at bringing the same application-centric focus and backup and restore expertise to Office 365 that it already has for Google Apps and Salesforce solutions.
As much as Google would like everyone with word processing, presentation and spreadsheet needs to make exclusive use of Google Docs, the fact is that Office -- particularly the cloud-friendly Office 365 -- remains stubbornly popular. To try to win people over from the dark side, Google has added editing support for an extra 15 Office formats to Docs.
This is not the only change that has been made to try to encourage Office users towards Docs. Google is also making it possible to edit Office documents that arrive in your Gmail inbox as attachments -- no more downloading just to re-upload for editing!
The IT needs of businesses are constantly evolving and technology giant HP has announced a raft of new products aimed at optimizing today's workloads whilst preparing for the future.
Offerings include new servers, faster storage, converged systems and an expanded range of services including combining HP Enterprise Services with Microsoft Office 365.
Web pages can be interesting, transient things; they can be there one minute and gone the next. But while a web page may vanish, that does not mean that all traces of it vanish from the internet. Earlier today an intriguing-looking article popped up in my news reader -- there are many benefits to sticking with RSS feeds: a post on the Microsoft blog with the title "blank post please delete".
Authored by Rajesh Jha, my RSS reader (InoReader) showed that the post's content was very similar to the title -- blank post, please delete. Just a comma added. Interest piqued, I clicked the link to see if there was any more to see. "We're sorry, but we can't find the page you're looking for" announced Chrome. But the URL is curious.
Microsoft is giving Office 365 users an early glimpse of what it hopes will become the future of enterprise video sharing. Office 365 Video harnesses the power of SharePoint and Azure Media Services to create a tool that gives businesses a one-stop-shop for uploading, sharing, delivering and streaming videos.
A number of possible scenarios are set out by Mark Kashman, a senior product manager in the Office 365 group. From providing employees with access to training videos to delivering CEO messages, this is a flexible tool that has been designed with security and simplicity in mind. Office 365 Video is not expected to launch until early next year, but a sneak peak is available right now.
Microsoft has launched a beta version of the OneNote Search API. The API is a collaboration between the OneNote and Bing teams, and has led to the creation of what has been dubbed a "personal search engine for your private notes and memories in the cloud". As the API is powered by Bing, it brings the same power and features to those looking to perform searches in OneNote.
This means that searches can be filtered according to relevance, spelling mistakes are overlooked, and more. Personal indexing means that searches are limited to just those notebooks that a user has access to, and developers are invited to sign up for beta access right now.
Email overload -- it's something that we all suffer with; but what’s the solution? To help make it easier to focus on the emails you need to see and deal with, Microsoft is launching Clutter. It's a tool aimed at Office 365 business customers who want to be able to wade through the rubbish and get to the emails that actually matter.
In many ways, Clutter is Microsoft's answer to Google's Priority Inbox feature for Gmail. It determines which messages are those which you are likely to want to handle later rather than straight away, and moves them out of the way to free up your inbox. Less crap to sort through leads to increased productivity -- at least that's the theory.
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.