Office 365 is Microsoft’s online, cloud-based version of the regular Office suite that most… well, office workers spend a large proportion of their day with. The online version is a good product, which replicates almost every part of the offline Office suite’s functionality as an online app.
Unlike some competing online productivity suites, Office 365 commands a monthly subscription fee, but that also buys you a 99.9% uptime SLA and similar assurances regarding security and back-up. If you’re serious about your work, those will count for a lot more than the fairly trivial fee. For most small and medium businesses, it’s a lot more safe and secure than their current arrangements are likely to be.
Looking forward, the newly announced Office 2013 is, in some respects, closer to Office 365 than the traditional set of offline applications. I’m typing this on the preview release of MS Word 2013 now and note that, by default, I’m saving to remote servers using SkyDrive/Office 365 rather than my local hard disk. Of course, you can still save locally and the apps still work without an internet connection but, like everything else, it’s edging into the Cloud.
But back to now, Office 365 and your Lumia phone.
What’s the point? Well, firstly and most vitally for me, everything you create or receive is available now, wherever you are, from your phone, or from any other computer. And it’s far from just Windows Phone and PC: Office 365 is accessible from PCs, Macs, iPhone, Android phones, Symbian phones and BlackBerries as well as Windows Phone.
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So that opens up the second, rich area where Office 365 wins out over the traditional desktop Office: collaboration. The system was practically built for multiple authors, review processes and generally avoiding having multiple copies of the same document flying around in emails.
If it’s on your Office 365 server, they’ve already got the document on their phone, computer or whatever. Bye bye attachments. To be fair, you’ll probably still need to poke them to have a look, though – we can’t change human nature!
Here, again, the phone component is really strong. Let’s say I am writing a blog post and someone else needs to review what I’ve produced. I can share the document with them, and they can create comments and edits right from their phone.
Go to the next stage: I get their feedback but I’m out and about. Uniquely for an office product on mobile, I believe, I can see changes and comments. By the time I get to another computer, I know exactly what needs to be done.
If you work in a team, it’s definitely worth a try. There is, as usual, a free trial available.