Microsoft 365 Knowledge Series Episode 2: Office 365 and Collaboration
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Microsoft 365 Knowledge Series is a learning path about how small to enterprise-sized companies can fully utilize the Microsoft 365 solution for their organizations.
Hosted by Paul Thurrott of Thurrott.com and Stephen Rose from Microsoft, this series dives deep into the solutions offered by Microsoft 365 along with smart and unique ways your organization can take advantage of everything that the service has to offer.
In this episode, Stephen and Paul take a closer look at the core collaboration capabilities provided by new features in traditional Office applications and brand-new solutions that are unique to Office 365 and Microsoft 365.
Transcript of the conversation can be found below:
Paul Thurrott: 00:07 Hello and welcome back to the Microsoft 365 Knowledge series with Stephen Rose and Paul Thurrott. You know, you mentioned and you are correct. We never really explained who we are. Maybe we should do that first.
Stephen Rose: 00:22 Why don’t you go first Paul.
Paul Thurrott: 00:23 Oh geez. Well, I’m Paul Thurrott. I have been writing professionally about Microsoft for over 25 years. I have written about 30 books, mostly about Windows actually, in Microsoft technologies. In 1999, I was hired by the publisher Windows NT Magazine and brought on board just in time to see that thing sell-off into the sunset and become Windows 2000 Magazine. But that was a big moment for me. And I stayed there for about 15 years. And so, you know, unfortunately, that business was purchased and then purchased again. And of course, publishing changed and the print magazine went away and then we do everything on the web. And so I’ve been with Brad Sams and the team over, at BWW Media for actually for five years now. Amazing, very, very much Microsoft focused. I would say over the years.
Stephen Rose: 01:18 Wow. I’ve been in IT sort of for about 25 years. I got certified back in the NT40 days when there was still networking essentials and you had to learn IRQ’s as part of the A Plus exam. I still remember that nine is the pastor IRQ, got certified and all that. 2000 NT, owned a consulting company, was an MVP but came on board to Microsoft in 2009 to help launch the Windows 7 beta with IT pros.
Paul Thurrott: 01:51 Okay.
Stephen Rose: 01:52 Because they wanted somebody who had a marketing background and also an IT background. And it was great. So I spent five years in Windows. It’s where you and I met, and we did some keynotes and stuff together, sessions, pre days. I went from that team to the OneDrive SharePoint team where I spent a few years helping to drive files on demand and sort of the relaunch of OneDrive where it went from being a product that, could have potential greatness to finally becoming the product that it needed to be.
Paul Thurrott: 02:23 That absolutely does. Yeah.
Stephen Rose: 02:24 Launched. Windows 8, 8.1, Windows 10. And then moved over to the Microsoft 365 marketing team about eight months ago. Bringing my love of Windows and all things Windows with all the office stuff and the security and really sort of driving our storytelling, our IT Pro story, our deployment and adoption content, the great stuff that Jeremy Chapman builds and building on top of it and the great work that you and Mary Joe and everybody else does. And really helping to drive that forward and helping our customers to understand what is Microsoft 365 and how does it help us do better and what does the Graph and all these other really great questions that people have. So that’s now my daily journey.
Paul Thurrott: 03:08 I feel like I’ve known you longer than that. It’s funny.
Stephen Rose: 03:10 I think we met at some of the Tech Eds before that and had chatted about stuff and at MVP Summit and things like that. Cause I’ve known you and Ed Bott and like I said, Mary Jo for years now, so.
Paul Thurrott: 03:21 Right, right, right. Well you’ve really, you’ve kind of cherry-picked some of the better products that it was pretty good.
Stephen Rose: 03:28 I got lucky. I was in the right place at the right time pitching the right thing so.
Paul Thurrott: 03:32 You can take credit for it too. I mean.
Stephen Rose: 03:35 I can’t now. It worked out that way. But you know, it’s interesting. I think in a lot of them I took a look at where are things going, what are going to be the next big trends. And a lot of it was, you know, OneDrive was re-releasing they really need to get cred with IT pros, but I saw the potential for that product and if it was done right what it could do and then from that it was then going great, how do I go take that to the next level?
Stephen Rose: 03:59 And with what Office was doing that really seemed to be the direction. So it was just really looking at that on what are the questions that our customers are asking and based on that and IT pros what else are going to be those next things and just happen to be serendipitous when they come together. So it’s more awareness than anything else. And luck, lot of luck.
Paul Thurrott: 04:18 Do you ever miss the days when WINS was the directory services infrastructure for Windows NT or is it just.
Stephen Rose: 04:24 I miss MTFS and things like that, you know, all that sort of stuff. I miss PVCs and BDCs and you know, showing people how to turn a backup domain controller into our primary domain. You know, bringing that up, you know, knowing that if you had one 10 base TPC on your network, it would slow the whole network. I lived in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was doing consulting with FIfth Third Bank and Proctor and Gamble and we were one of the first cities in the early 90’s to get DSL. And the reason they put it there was they took a look at the most technologically advanced cities across the USA and they went to the bottom, which was like Lincoln, Nebraska.
Stephen Rose: 05:09 Alaska, and Cincinnati, Ohio.
Paul Thurrott: 05:11 It’s flat right there. And that plays a big role.
Stephen Rose: 05:15 And they want us to measure, Hey, if you’re 2,500, you know, feet from the box, you can have it, if you’re one foot over. No, if you’re below that. But I was one of the first people to get that. And it was so interesting to me because I saw us at that point going, if this really works out to the level that it has today, and this was 20 years ago, this could mean that we can move back to that sort of mainframe where you just plugin and your PC follows you. And it’s funny how that we’ve gone back to sort of that mainframe, although it’s now in the cloud, we’ve kind of come full circle back to them.
Paul Thurrott: 05:50 I didn’t intend to tell this story, but since you’ve just reminded me, I lived in Phoenix when they started rolling out cable modem for the first time in the country and it was one of the first big installs. And I swear I had several white lab, you know, the Intel bunny suit guys. I was sitting down in the street and checking everything and it was, you know, whatever. But one of the big things you could do at the time, cause Windows 95 was in beta or brand new, I guess, was you could browse the network neighborhood and you could see all of the other computers, everyone who had cable modems, and so you could print pitches to each other’s printers. And yeah, it was crazy. But again, you know, Phoenix was flat and so it’s easier to roll out that kind of infrastructure if you don’t have to worry about physical impediments, you know.
Stephen Rose: 06:33 Exactly, now I have fun just walking through hallways seeing who has Apple TV and then just pushing whatever I want to, cause nobody ever locks it down. So that’s always fun.
Paul Thurrott: 06:42 Nice, nice. Okay. That’s pretty good. Yeah. That’s the newfangled version of walking around with the cable remote and changing channels outside.
Stephen Rose: 06:48 Yes, exactly. Yeah. It’s amazing how that evolved and how even then you could sort of see where things were going, but it was a lot of it, was based on could we get that speed, could we get that bandwidth, with these sort of things. And we finally have gotten to that point where it’s available on almost every platform.
Paul Thurrott: 07:10 Now we have to talk about work, but that’s okay cause this is good stuff.
Stephen Rose: 07:15 It is.
Paul Thurrott: 07:15 We’ve done one episode, was kind of a high-level overview. The subsequent episodes we’re going to push into some of the core areas of Microsoft 365. And I don’t think any is more core than what I think of as the Office 365 tools. Right. And these are divided into familiar tools that have improved a lot over the years, which I think is a big part of the Microsoft 365 push. But also some new tools and technologies that are literally just new to this past couple of years. And won’t be familiar to a lot of people who are watching or listening to this.
Stephen Rose: 07:48 Yes.
Paul Thurrott: 07:50 And this one will be a little demo heavy. I know we had a couple of videos last time. We have a couple of, well we’ve got a lot to choose from. So many amazing capabilities. And so we’re going to have to kind of tune it out. I mentioned last episode that one of the interesting things about Microsoft 365 is how much newness there is on such a regular basis every month. You know, Microsoft has a blog post that explains all the new stuff that they released into Microsoft 365. And we can’t cover all of it. Sorry.
Stephen Rose: 08:17 It’s probably a good thing.
Paul Thurrott: 08:19 Yeah. But let’s at least look at some of the funner demos at least. So, and I mentioned also too, you know, Microsoft 365 as the poster child for Microsoft’s transition to the cloud.
Paul Thurrott: 08:33 This applies both to your company, Microsoft itself but also to its customers, right? Because as Microsoft made this transition over the past decade or so,15 years, whatever, it’s been hard to remember. I mean, so to have the customers come and we talked last time about how a lot of the blockers have eased over those years and I think that we view that cloud as inevitable. For the most part.
Stephen Rose: 08:57 Yeah, I think our customers that were most stuck. They chose the hybrid route and they’re doing it. But we’ve had a lot of customers who write in and said, this makes total sense and this is going to help us transform and let’s go all in. And it’s amazing to see some super big customers, you know, the Walmart’s of the world, folks like that just go, yup, we’re all in. And this is critical to our transformation on where we need to be and how we want to work.
Paul Thurrott: 09:22 I mentioned earlier, I’ve written 30 books about Microsoft products and technologies, most of them about Windows I would say. But the very first book I wrote was actually about an Office product. It was actually about Excel and it was Office that drew me to Microsoft back in, I’ll call it the early 1990s and not Windows, although once Windows 95 came around and Windows NT of course, that all became very interesting. But it was the quality of Office that did it. And some of those products Excel in particular, the first Office product or Word, PowerPoint, these things that have been around for 30, almost 40 years in some cases. A lot of people might think that they have not changed all that much over the years. I think we’re familiar with the ribbon switch over that occurred over, I guess that was Office 2007 and 2010 probably.
Paul Thurrott: 10:11 You know Outlook being the last, I think was the big hold out at the end there. And the notion there, which was simply that the, interface was getting a little too cluttered. Lots of toolbars.
Stephen Rose: 10:23 Yeah.
Paul Thurrott: 10:23 Lots of menus, too many commands. You know, how do we handle that density of command in the UI and also make features discoverable by people, I don’t remember the exact numbers, but of the top 10 requests for new features in Office, almost all of them, 8 or 9 or 10 of them were features that were already in Office that people just couldn’t find, you know. Yeah. So, one of the goals with the ribbon interface was to make that possible and make people be able to find functionality. So since then, what we’ve seen is capabilities that tie into the stuff we talked about before, the Microsoft Graph, the AI capabilities, all these things in the backend to make the various, I don’t want to call them legacy Office, but you know, kind of classic traditional Office applications more powerful than they’ve ever been.
Stephen Rose: 11:11 Yeah.
Paul Thurrott: 11:12 So maybe, as a kind of, I guess we’ll call it a demo for PowerPoint I chose just because this one is a super set of what’s available across some of the other apps. So there’s a feature called Ideas, which you’ll see in this video that’s also available in Excel and Word. And it’s not hard to imagine.
Stephen Rose: 11:28 Yeah, I use this all the time. And what’s great is, it is intelligence. So you know, here we are and it will say, Hey, let’s you have AI in your slides. So let’s show you some ideas or pictures that go with this. And these are ones for use that you can do. Now that we’ve dropped it in, it’s showing, Hey, here’s some templates that you could use that will help to make this look better and move it forward. And what’s great is as we change language within these, it will automatically update. It also, will look at those sentences and say, ah, here are icons that make sense based on what you’re writing. And then you can pick different versions that really help you to be extremely clear with your points. It will now also go through, and this is available in Word as well. We have our consistency checkers that will say, Hey, you’ve done words and written them different ways. You’re missing punctuation. You have this here, you have that there. But what I love is if we had, you know, typed in a city, let’s say Seattle, it would show us pictures for Seattle. If that title changes to Boston, then pictures of Boston come up, et cetera. It’s intuitive because it’s leveraging this intelligence to do it. It allows people who are not very creative with you know, PowerPoint to be able to create these really amazing professional looking slides that bring that together and then bringing that into Word and bringing that into Excel to automatically create graphs that don’t just show trends but show outliers. Again, leveraging the graph and intelligence that allows us to figure out how do we best want to present this so that people immediately looking at this, get what I need and it keeps you from putting in too much content into a slide that doesn’t really work for folks.
Paul Thurrott: 13:06 Yeah, I mean, look who exactly is a PowerPoint expert. I mean, one of the things that’s interesting about this is, you know, back in the day, one of the things that Microsoft did was say, well, we’re going to make the toolbars as they were at the time, similar across PowerPoint, Word and Excel. The idea being that you might be an Excel user. You just, you know, this product inside and out. But because the interface is similar on these other apps, it makes them easier for you to use. But of course these other apps have very specific functionality. Some people are experts in PowerPoint, are very good at designing those things. I’m not one of those people. I’ve even had meetings with folks from Microsoft as you know, depending on the team, of course they have these giant marketing teams that make beautiful slide decks and everything, but every once in a while just be a guy or a person who says, yeah, I didn’t really have time. And it’s just the stock white, you know, white background, black text and you know, we’re trying to communicate something here and it’s difficult to come up with something that looks truly professional. So I think that kind of thing, the designer feature that we just saw in PowerPoint and ideas, which I think I said is also available in Excel and Word.
Stephen Rose: 14:13 And I think the key thing that I need to talk about, you know, the change in the toolbar was to bring information just in time so that when you clicked on a picture, the picture toolbar comes up and when you click on a Excel Graph, it immediately comes up. And that was really, you know, the great thing that engineering did was if I click on something, I want to see all the toolbars that relate to that and not have to go find that and do that. And that was really at the core. And that thought of just in time information has continued to evolve. And I think if you think about that and where it’s at now, it creates a very interesting sort of straight line through all that.
Paul Thurrott: 14:49 Yeah, it’s night and day really. I mean, you know, with a little bit of mousing around, you could find back in the day a design tab perhaps, and you could say, well, I can make all my slides have consistent fonts and background colors and things like that. But the way that this works by looking at the content and suggesting things that make sense and making things consistent and then suggesting new ways to show visual data where you can choose the different layouts on a slide by slide basis. It just makes this thing accessible. This thing being a PowerPoint in this example to people who are not PowerPoint experts and really kind of are never going to be, but they still need to use the tool to communicate ideas. So.
Stephen Rose: 15:30 It also makes sure that if we have people that have handicaps or English as a second language, et cetera, that you’re also meeting the accessibility needs for those users. And it will go through as part of that tracker and say, Hey, is this the right language? You know, this font is too small. This is not going to be readable, you know, et cetera. So it’ll also go through and ensure that as you do it, you’re doing something that will be best for all audiences, not just, you know, what you have in mind. And that’s something that’s great because I don’t always think about that when I’m creating something. I’m trying to get the ideas out and that really helps us to keep that focus that we’ve made it good for everybody.
Paul Thurrott: 16:06 Right. Right. One of the other big pushes at Microsoft over the past many years, almost decade has been this push toward mobile. And of course you see the traditional Office app showing up on mobile. You see them on iPhones and iPads, you see them on Android handsets and tablets and on the web as well. And new mobile apps too, which we’ll go to eventually. But it’s interesting, you know, I was kind of surprised by this. It was back in August when Samsung announced their latest note phablets Microsoft had an app on there just called Office. That was basically an all in one app that combined the capabilities. I believe it’s Word, Excel and PowerPoint into a single app. And it’s actually if you use the Office browser add-in that Microsoft makes available, it’s very similar to that in the sense that you can see all of your recent documents. So it gives you that one view into your world and then you can view those things and edit them all from a single app. But now it is available across mobile. It’s not, just available only on the Samsung phones.
Stephen Rose: 17:15 Yeah and it’s what you get if you go to Office.com, your own personal homepage. And now it’s part of, you know, Bing, if you have a business, it’ll do that. But Hey, here’s the most recent stuff I’ve worked on. Here’s my OneDrive and SharePoint stuff and all my stuff in the cloud. Here are other things that I may want to take a look at and be aware of that it’s surfacing out because the Graph has said you have meetings or things going on. And then adding in extra features, like the ability to be able to take a picture of a spreadsheet and be able to drop it in and, you know, being able to take a look at the picture to text and like that. Just bringing some of those tools. And it’s funny, I meet so many people that are nuts about Oh the Microsoft lens technology and I’m like, you know, we built that into OneDrive. You know, you can take pictures of the receipts and it uses it and it drops it in and does all that. But people were like, Oh my God, I love the camera lens app. And I’m like, it’s built in everywhere.
Paul Thurrott: 18:12 It’s really it’s a feature. Yeah. I almost mentioned this in that Outlook mobile feature where it could read your email. What you’re really seeing there is the integration of Cortana, which used to be a standalone application into Outlook. So you kind of bring the technology into where it makes the most sense. So if you’re using OneDrive app, you might want to scan something stored in OneDrive. If you’re using the Office app, in this case you might want to do the same, you know, you don’t have to get out of your workflow to go do this other task. You know, we’re going to bring the functionality and where it makes the most sense.
Stephen Rose: 18:48 Exactly. And you know, then also we talked about Teams and on our other episode, hi, I need a document. There it is. What’s in OneDrive? What’s in SharePoint, how do you want to bring that in? So it is about surfacing up that just in time information. So you’re not doing that thousand clicks to get to something which you just go f it, I’ll do it later, you know?
Paul Thurrott: 19:08 Yup. So we do have another demo video. This one is the new Office app. I brought this one in because I really liked this. And if you’re, if you’re a Windows phone fan from back in the day, you might recognize that Microsoft tried to do something very similar in that platform as well.
Stephen Rose: 19:22 Yes. And there was the Office lens app right there on that too. Yeah. So here’s things like transfer files, which you can do from peer to peer sign as a PDF. Here we are taking a picture of a Graph that we see in an article. We then just adjust, you know, the pole lines and what’s great is now we have that and we can take the picture to text and we can just drop it without ever having to go to a PC right into itself, right from the phone. And that’s really the whole thing is, Oh, that’s really good. I want to save that. And I’ll come back to that when I get to a different device, but not have these random pictures, which, it’s funny, my thing is I use it very much as a reminder tool. And the first thing I do is when I check into a hotel, I take a picture of the room number cause you don’t get keys anymore.
Stephen Rose: 20:07 You get these little credit cards and it doesn’t have a room number on it. And I have a whole folder filled with hundreds of room numbers from hotels that I’ve kept, but we’re taking that idea, if I want to be able to remember things, I want to be able to act on things. I want to be able to sign this or save it as a PDF or save it as a photo or a receipt that I want to add to a folder. But I want to be able to say, show me all my receipts from Starbucks and they all come up. So it’s bringing that in and then we’re seeing that now across all the different platforms.
Paul Thurrott: 20:38 Indeed. We also have a second mobile demo. Apparently I thought so much of mobile. I thought let’s do this twice. And this one is Outlook mobile. Let’s bring this one up if you don’t mind. Yeah, this is the natural language capabilities. Right. And again, kind of Cortana based essentially where you’re speaking your language to query data that is can be found by Outlook.
Stephen Rose: 21:10 Yeah. like I said, what’s, what’s great here is you have such a variety of things you can do. Show me all the emails from a certain time point from a certain person on the go. That’s easy to do on a laptop, but it’s not as you’re walking down a street. So being able to find, again that just in time information is really critical. And I think Outlook mobile has done some phenomenal work and has gone from a good app to a great app in the past few years and that team, huge kudos to them on everything. And they finally brought dark mode, which was one of the things I kept asking for, where’s the dark mode in Outlook. But it’s not, just means the fact that now we’ve not just built-in contacts, but it’s going to show you who have you worked with quite a bit.
Stephen Rose: 21:51 There’s all your files and all the things that you know, you’re looking for. And now the voice integration, which opens up so many opportunities for us to start to use more of the natural language AI capabilities that we’re working on. This is one app. I’m super excited to see where it’s at two, three years from now and how this could really sort of be the center of everything you’re doing is you’re sitting in your car as you’re going back and forth where you can actually really get work done without ever having to touch a device. And we’re getting very close to that and it’s interesting to see how that will come together, especially as we look at multiple languages, multiple speaking styles, depending on if it’s a personal email to your kid’s soccer coach versus something at work and it understanding those differences with the people that you communicate with.
Paul Thurrott: 22:37 Yeah, I mean you’ll see this in a personal digital assistant usage or whatever. You know, the ability to speak in plain English in my case, but in your language and not to have to adhere to whatever the tool is. You know, I was searching from an email that we had exchanged earlier and I can search for your name or for something I think might be in it, but other things can come up. I mean to be able to just speak plainly and say, look, I want this specific thing I think is a huge you know, obviously a huge case.
Stephen Rose: 23:06 Yeah. And to be able to now do that from, you know, your Windows search bar from Siri, from, you know, inside of OneDrive, things like that, to be able to sort of bring that across is really huge. And now for example, my iPhone, I have it set up, or I could say, Hey Siri, read my emails and it then launches the read my email feature in Outlook and does that for me. So those connectors going cross-platform are really, really critical for uptake. And for me, that was a really big moment when I could start to use the Siri shortcuts with that and really start to bring that to life because that was something that was missing. And I didn’t want to have to touch the device as I was driving.
Paul Thurrott: 23:44 And is that something that Microsoft Outlook did? Or is that something you did through Siri Shortcut to make that happen?
Stephen Rose: 23:51 It was automatically there. So when I looked in Siri shortcuts, it was open emails, like pick your email and do that. So I didn’t really have to do anything. I just clicked it and said, yep, I want that one. And I put it on my desktop and I can say, Hey Siri, read my email. And then it launches that shortcut and goes right into it. So yeah, we’re starting to see, especially with Apple goes, yes, people are using this and we want to make this good for business users. And you know, Android, especially Samsung, has had a very close relationship with Office, sorry,. With Office and moving things forward.
Paul Thurrott: 24:24 People don’t understand how early you had to get up for this. So.
Stephen Rose: 24:26 It’s all good. But Samsung, we had that partnership with OneDrive and with Office to make sure that it was deeply integrated and it was built in by default. So again, bringing that functionality to folks, and again, this all really comes from the Graph and all the great things that it’s bringing to the platform and how it does it.
Paul Thurrott: 24:46 Right, right. So we should talk about, let’s talk about the Graph because there are other familiar tools like the things we talked about, the core Office apps that are moving to mobile and the web and so forth. But there’s also lots of new tools Microsoft has made available. And we talked about this I think briefly last time around, but the Microsoft Graph as kind of the back end of everything that’s happening in Microsoft 365, can you maybe expand on that a little bit? Just so people understand what it is?
Stephen Rose: 25:14 Yeah, so the Graph is a developer platform and what it does is it connects multiple services and devices. I think we released it around 2015 and it’ll allow people to integrate third-party services with our products like Windows and Office and Azure and it’s really kind of four key areas. Number one is this sort of rich context, you know, is my manager in or out of the out of the office and what documents that they’ve been working on and things like that. The second is to give you insights where we’re looking at usage patterns like trending document, what is the best meeting time or who do you work with, and then to get real-time updates from that data to reschedule a meeting based on responses where I could say, Hey, share my calendar or share my availability, and it does that with everybody and says, here are 5 times that make sense for all of you to meet with. Or when somebody’s changed a file for it to then show up in my email and say, Hey, this file has been changed or modified or in Teams we’re seeing people use it for approval processes along with power apps and flow.
Stephen Rose: 26:21 But the great thing is this is available to consumers as part of Outlook.com and OneDrive.com and to our enterprise users in Azure or even a combination of both, but it’s this intelligent, It is the force of technology. It binds the galaxy together. It moves through us, but it really is, it is this area and we’re not mining the Graph for data on you. It’s you know, send your stuff up, it uses our cognitive services and then it pushes the data right back down to you and then you own that. So it’s not this super-secret spy tool that we’re using, but it is this fabric that you can start to say, Hey, how do I connect these two together and the Graph becomes that great sort of filling.
Paul Thurrott: 27:07 Even in the examples you use, this really interesting kind of overview of the types of data it grabs and how smart that is.
Paul Thurrott: 27:16 Is my manager in the office?
Stephen Rose: 27:18 Right.
Paul Thurrott: 27:18 What is he working on? You know, we did this document change. You know, these are things that can inform, that do inform the Graph and are what makes that so useful. I think I said this last time, but you know, this was the vision that Bill Gates had, you know, information at your fingertips literally, I mean, what has to be happening in the background is something that we think of maybe as a database, although that’s a bit simplistic because it’s actually potentially thousands of databases or data sources that are being intelligently parsed and bringing you the relevant information that you need when you need it.
Stephen Rose: 27:53 And affected moment to moment based on what you’re doing, but at an even higher level. And you’re absolutely correct. I think that’s exactly it is it’s also now being injected at this very easy to consume level. But think about how much time it starting to save you where Hey, things that I have to spend five minutes going to go check out are now being surfaced up to me. When you start to take a look at how many times a day, how many times a week, how many times a month? I mean, I used to teach, you know, Office classes back in my day, I was teaching MCSC and Office and I used to say to people, keyboard shortcuts save you three seconds. But if you multiply that by everything at the end of the year, you’re getting an extra week’s worth of work done because you’re using keyboard shortcuts rather than going up, hitting file copy, file paste, which is how people used to do that back in the ’90s and late 80’s. So, and it’s that same thing as how many times does that surfacing up? You should be chatting with this person or here’s your next meeting and here’s what you need to check.
Stephen Rose: 28:52 This is the guy in your organization who knows more about this topic than anybody. And it also, you know, if you kind of extrapolate it out, you can tie it into the natural language services as well. Because one of the ways you can query the Graph is just by asking questions. You know, and it gets very interesting because you know, to take advantage of a database or a database back file system like Microsoft wanted to do at one time, you kind of had to be a computer scientist just to interact with it because you had to understand how to query that thing using its language, you know, whereas now it doesn’t doesn’t work that way, which is kind of fantastic.
Stephen Rose: 29:29 It’s what we have on Star Trek, it’s what everybody wants.
Paul Thurrott: 29:32 Exactly, yeah, exactly right. The other big new tool, and we did touch on this last time, is Microsoft Teams of course. Teams just so people understand, I mean this is like I said, the most popular new Microsoft Office app I should say in many, many years. I believe the latest figure as of November was something like 20 million active daily users, I think was the number. It is a chat-based collaboration tool. Satya Nadella, like you said, has described it as the new Windows in many ways because it’s a platform and is the center of everyone’s life. I sometimes still think of it as the, the new Outlook in a way. And as it evolves and as all these things evolve, I mean, you know, Teams is both of those things. It’s kind of interesting. But you know, how do we how do we see Teams being adopted by people like us? You know, the younger folks. I mean, do you see this.
Stephen Rose: 30:28 And no, that is the big change is email usage is declining with the younger generations. It’s not how they communicate. I have a 16 year old daughter, I’ve never seen her pick up the phone and make a call. She’ll do a FaceTime, she will chat, she’ll use Instagram and she’ll use all these apps. And if you think about it, it’s a very efficient way to get things done and to have a document of what you did and to be able to go back and take a look at that. And this is the generation of folks that are coming to work and those folks that we want to retain in jobs. So you know, having chat-based over mail, mail that is great for make for one way communication but it’s not optimized for two way communication. It gets very difficult and phone calls you have to take notes.
Stephen Rose: 31:16 So chat starts to do that and we’re seeing heads of companies that are saying, you know the hierarchy that’s older going, yes we understand this and we’re going to have to change and do it. But it is hard. It is really, really hard, especially if the group of people that you work with everyday around you, is not using that or is not chat-based or working as much. It can be a big transition and that’s probably one of the hardest areas for people is they get the IM portion of it, but they don’t get, Oh now my files are all in one place, so my meetings are done here and everything is there. They’re so used to this distributed way of working because they’ve always done it that way. That starting to see that value in the scenario, which I always say is if you get somebody new that starts on your team, how quickly can you get them up to speed on your project? And you really look at how you could do that with Teams and how you’re currently doing that. It’s light years away from each other.
Paul Thurrott: 32:11 Yeah. You were talking about chatting and with kids and we were on an international trip this past year and for the first time, the kids had their phones and could potentially be out in the world and might be separate from us.
Stephen Rose: 32:25 Right.
Paul Thurrott: 32:25 And so how do we keep in touch with them in a way that makes sense? And we ended up using a chat app that they were comfortable with, right. That they use because that’s what they expected. And we just wanted to make this as seamless as possible. But I think the parallel is, you know, depending on your situation and what the, you know, the other coworkers you’re working with are like, that could be easy or hard. I suppose, but you know, I talked about the exchange administrator and how we needed to adapt. I mean, I think we collectively need to adapt as well to this kind of new way of doing things, especially when you can see how obviously it can be better in different ways. So.
Stephen Rose: 33:05 It’s going to take a while for folks to do this and we’re going to find people that are going to go, I’m not going to do it and they’re going to get moved out and they’re going to keep doing email. But the problem they’re going to run into is your emails are going to take longer and longer and longer to get answers, possibly depending on the group that you’re working with. And like I said, for me the big epiphany was working with engineering that was primarily younger folks that communicated on Snapchat and Instagram and WhatsApp and whatever else that they were using and moving in that direction. But I think that ability to be able to, again, have that just in time information to be able to go to that chat, see everything, dropping those files. And we’re starting to see it as a great way to communicate, not only with our own team, but with other teams that every time we start a new project, we invite everybody in, and now it makes it much easier.
Stephen Rose: 33:50 Where all files related to that, I’m now looking in one place, I’m not searching my own device for it. It’s all there and anybody that gets added now can see everything that’s happened up to that point or not depending on how you choose it. So there’s a good amount of control and then from a legal standpoint, you can have the holds, retention, all of those types of things. So if you need to go back, you know and see what happened in a previous project. From a legal standpoint, it’s very, very easy to track all that and see what was done and get a better sort of cover, which would be difficult to do, you know, only saying what was an email on how that would come up.
Paul Thurrott: 34:28 Right, right. The capabilities in Teams are so vast. I mean, if you’re not familiar with it, you really should take some time to check it out and see what is possible there. We could’ve chosen probably a dozen different demos of Teams, but we have one we can show. I believe this is related to a topic we talked about last time, which is the recording of meetings.
Stephen Rose: 34:53 Okay. Yeah. So here’s a meeting that has been recorded. So what’s great is if I miss that meeting, I can simply just click into it. I’m going to get a real time transcription from the meeting. So all I have to do is just hit the CC button and that will come up. Or I can search and say, where within that chat was this topic covered? And then when I hit that and bring that up, it’ll immediately take me to that point exactly in the meeting. And that’s whether I’m doing it through the Team’s Chrome or I’m doing it through the Stream Chrome. It doesn’t really make a difference. And that’s great. I can also say play this meeting at double speed. But being able to find those key points is great. Especially if you know it’s a meeting where people get distracted a lot or they’re going to cover things that you’re a small portion of it and it’s a big wrap up, it’s much easier to go through that.
Stephen Rose: 35:46 And that’s leveraging Stream and Teams. Plus you have all your calendaring in there so you’re immediately joining all your meetings, your voice. And then I’ve seen, you know help desk that has brought in things like JIRA and SAP directly into tabs, Power BI. And then you can also bring in Power Apps and Flow to start to automate those processes. So it’s a very malleable platform and I think that’s what people like about it is you can make it what you need it to be. It’s not like some of our other apps where it’s like, here it is and work within these constraints.
Paul Thurrott: 36:18 I was just thinking, you know, knowing that your meeting is going to be recorded may help to rein in some of those meetings.
Stephen Rose: 36:26 It could. Sometimes it does. I think the great thing is a lot of times people just forget, that it’s being recorded and they go off and then I go, okay times four and I skipped past their rant and then get right to the heart of it.
Paul Thurrott: 36:38 And the same way having to see ourselves recording video is so terrible. I mean, having to go back and see what you were like in a meeting. It’s like, Oh.
Stephen Rose: 36:50 I don’t want to take a look at these like 5, 10 years from now. But it is great when I’ve been traveling and I’m traveling and you know, I’m in Europe and I’m in a different time. I can go back to that Team meeting, I can see the key things, see where my action items were. Go right to that, bring that up and take those notes and move forward.
Stephen Rose: 37:08 And that’s awesome. When it’s now 10 o’clock at night.
Paul Thurrott: 37:11 If you just you want to do the 5, 10-minute overview, part that’s pertinent to you.
Stephen Rose: 37:17 Yes. Yeah, get some sleep cause it doesn’t stop when you’re traveling. So, yeah, and on every platform, whether I’m on a cell phone or a laptop, et cetera. So it’s definitely changing how people look to work and communicate and taking chat to a whole new level. The other thing though that we’ve seen is to have really successful adoption. It really has to start at the top with your C level executives saying, look, we’re going to do this, we’re going to roll it out. It’s them turning on their cameras because when the camera’s on, you’re probably going to pay attention. You’re going to be doing a lot less, you know, working on other things and multitasking. It brings a focus in and also makes it much more personable. And that’s great as you start to have more and more remote workers and things along that line.
Paul Thurrott: 38:01 Right? So this one’s more of a Windows 7 feature, but, Windows 10 feature. Sorry. But, Windows being part of Microsoft 365 and I think we’re gonna see these capabilities evolve and edge this year. But even in this first version that just came out last week, there is a feature called collections which lets you do researches that people do on the web, but then collect that information and then share it with others. And so maybe we could watch a quick demo of this. This is a kind of a key new feature in the new Microsoft Edge.
Stephen Rose: 38:36 So here we are in you know, in the Chromium browser. So we’re picking collections, which is basically groups of articles that you’ve chosen to create a topic and then save things. Now what’s really nice is when we go back to those collections, I can click on that, it’ll bring up that article and it also then allows me to change the order. If I find a good picture of things that go in, and then export that all out to Word or Excel and then share that saying, hi, here is everything I found on this topic. So rather than cutting, pasting, cutting, pasting, and dealing with all the format, it’s going to keep that all and build out the references for you at the bottom. So people can go back to those original articles. This is amazing from everybody, from students to people doing research to business to hobbyists who are, you know, trying to keep track of all those articles and keep them organized, all doing it digitally and again following you across every single platform.
Paul Thurrott: 39:29 Yeah, I mean we’ll see. Microsoft Edge was just released, its first non beta version. So I think a lot of the work that occurred last year was just kind of getting that up and running. But I expect we’re going to see a lot more of that kind of functionality occur this year as well. So again, if you haven’t looked at Edge, please do, an amazing new browser.
Stephen Rose: 39:49 Yeah, no, it’s, everybody’s been really excited about it and very happy with it. The reviews have been like, finally, it works and it makes sense. And like I said, you and I have both been using it for a while and I’ve been really happy with how quickly the development has come and also the opportunities that it opens up for our customers. If they’re using third party extensions or things that they like to do, they should be able to find that. But with that security that we promise and bring to a product that is built for not just consumers but for the enterprise as well.
Paul Thurrott: 40:19 And specifically for the Microsoft environment too. So if you’re in a Microsoft infrastructure that has all the integration, especially with your accounts and identity, which is super important.
Stephen Rose: 40:28 Syncing all your bookmarks and being for business and bringing in all that intelligence. Absolutely. Yeah. No, it’s great stuff.
Paul Thurrott: 40:35 And so one final new bit with regards to Office 365 and collaboration, I believe this was, I think this was announced at Ignite in 2018 and then it’s finally starting to occur in the real world. But I think of this as kind of an internet services based DDE or copy and paste kind of functionality. It’s called Fluid Framework I should say. I’m sorry. And it’s basically just a new way to share rich data across the internet. I mean, can you speak at all to what’s going on with Fluid Framework?
Stephen Rose: 41:07 Yeah, Fluid Framework sort of picks up the next logical step after cloud cut and paste, which is instead of using controls CV, ax it, you’re using the Windows key which allows you to do that and share that across. So in redesigning all of our apps, updating our apps to work with in a Fluid Framework, what that allows you to do is to go into an Excel spreadsheet to cut, sorry to copy and paste a portion of that Excel spreadsheet into Teams. But now create a link as if you were to do it in a second page in Excel and repeat back to it, where everything gets updated. And that’s really our goal is you should be able to take live active information from Word, PowerPoint, Excel and drop that into another application. And see that it’s building upon things like collaboration in real time that we’ve had in our Office apps for awhile.
Stephen Rose: 41:58 But now bringing that in, and that’s really exciting because now you go from having static documents that are being updated to living, breathing content that is continually changing and updating. Or you can pause it at one point and say, pause it here and now let’s see that difference in change or have two different things that bring that together. But having that, knowing if I go into a document and everything, whether it’s rules from HR, the latest sales and marketing figures to the latest products that everything is up to date in real time is huge rather than which version do I need to go to and doing comparisons and updating. And that’s probably the easiest way to take a look at what framework, what Fluid Framework is. It is exactly that, a fluidity between our frameworks allowing you to move back and forth between them.
Paul Thurrott: 42:49 Yeah, it’s very reminiscent of the mid 90’s when we were talking about compound documents and I guess it was DDE and OLE object linking and embedding and then comm. But I mean, you know, just for the 21st century, I mean, it’s extrapolated out to online services and, and web apps and so forth. Really.
Stephen Rose: 43:08 Yeah. I remember the first time I did like a linked Excel spreadsheet and it changed at one place and saw that.
Paul Thurrott: 43:13 That’s crazy. That’s crazy. Yeah. And so I think, you know, it’s, you know, between the traditional tools, I mean, we know all the core Office apps, OneDrive and SharePoint and then some of this new stuff, the Fluid Framework, a new Microsoft Edge, Teams and Microsoft Graph. I mean, this is the foundation for this new era of collaboration. And you know, again, I feel like we can’t dive into everything, there is so much new every month. And hopefully this highlight, you know, this quick overview kinda gives you an idea of some of the things we’re talking about because in many ways really is just the tip of the.
Stephen Rose: 43:51 Yeah. And you know, we’re taking a look at this. So here I am, I have on the left, I’m now dropping that in. And if I go back into my original document I can make changes there. It’s gonna show up automatically there inside of Teams and that data’s malleable. So I can, you know, funnel it and filter it in different ways in either document and be able to work with it because it is live data in both, and I can see people working in real-time and then intelligence clicking and saying, Hey, here is a chart that will help you to make this look even better. And then to be able to do real-time queries or things along that line, both in Excel formats and in real-time language, which we’ll talk about later. How I can say, great, show me how many items were delivered this month and be able just to see that data come out.
Stephen Rose: 44:39 So it’s again creating that ubiquity across platforms for users that there is one truth and that’s what folks have wanted is what is the truth, what is the real data? And being able to have that and not have to worry about those versions makes life so much easier. So for all of you people who’s never emptied your deleted bin and use your inbox as you know, a file cabinet here’s a way to start to move away from that so that you don’t have to keep 26 different versions of things inside of a folder or an email and always have that latest version.
Paul Thurrott: 45:12 So we’re getting toward the end of the show. I wanted to highlight some news quickly and then I’ve got a couple of tips and how-tos, I don’t know if you have anything you want to add there, but you know, like I said, every month Microsoft highlights everything that’s new in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. We’re getting toward the end of the month as we’re recording this video. So there should be a new post like that soon. But looking back over the last one, I’ll just pull out a couple of the highlights I thought were kind of interesting. Sticky notes, which of course is a cross-platform way for taking quick notes is now available and Outlook on the web if you want to access it from that web interface. Microsoft had revealed, I want to say back in September, October timeframe, but whenever it was last year that they were bringing back OneNote 2016, bringing it up to date with the mobile and UWP OneNote app.
Paul Thurrott: 45:58 And so dark mode is now rolling out to that classic app, which is wonderful. So if you want to use the full fledged OneNote app, you will get dark mode support. You were talking about the Fluid Framework thing. That’s really interesting. And as I was watching that, I was thinking, you know, that’s very interesting for live data. Sometimes what you want is just a view. We want to grab a snapshot of this data and we don’t want to edit it in this other place and have it go back and you know, change the the original and XL has that feature now called Sheet View. And if you’re familiar with how databases work, it’s kind of like a view versus a table. I guess you’re literally just looking at it.
Stephen Rose: 46:38 There’s one other really great feature in Edge that I like and I don’t want to mess up the name of it, but if I get to a webpage, let’s say you know, that has a lot of data in it. There is a reading view. So I’m going to bring it up cause I want to make sure I get the name right. So, let me look here. Going to grab an article, and then.
Paul Thurrott: 47:01 Actually they call it Immersive Reader.
Stephen Rose: 47:03 Immersive Reader. That’s the one. And yeah, you’ll see it pop up in the toolbar itself and that’s really great when you go, Hey, I just need to get to the meat of this and really see what’s important and be able to do that. It’s a really great feature for getting rid of all the ads and all the popups and all the other stuff, just having text and graphics. And I love that view when I’m doing research and trying to get through a lot of data and find things.
Paul Thurrott: 47:26 And for whatever it’s worth a little goofy, if you’ve been a fan for Edge all along, I think personally that the style they used for the Immersive Reader in the new version is even better than last time. It used to have kind of a horizontal two column view, which I didn’t quite understand. Now it looks more like a natural document, I think it looks great.
Stephen Rose: 47:46 Yeah. Great.
Paul Thurrott: 47:46 Really nice. And then the final little bit of news is just the version 1909 was completed late last year, but now it’s broadly available. So if your machine is compatible you don’t have any driver blockers, you’re going to get that immediately. So that should be happening for everybody soon. Unless of course your IT is managing that in which case it will happen on their schedule. And then as far as tips and how-to’s, I just wanted to point out if you’re in Microsoft or Office 365, there is a new admin center that came out last year.
Paul Thurrott: 48:16 I believe it’s on by default for everybody now, although, I accept advanced features more quickly so I might just be seeing it because I’m doing that. But there is a switch if you want to enable it and they’ve gone to a much more modern interface for the Microsoft 365 admin center if you’re not familiar with it. That’s something definitely to look at. The other thing is Office 365, again as a part of Microsoft 365 delivers new features, which are actually called feature updates on a schedule. And I talk about every month, but, your business can decide that we want to install those things manually on our schedule or they can install them every 6 months. You can talk to your IT about that. Maybe if you’re on the 6 month schedule, you want to get these things every month you can do so. And I talked about the blog posts that Microsoft puts out every month, but also from within the admin center. If you go into health message center, you’ll actually find out what’s new in Office 365 every month. And if you’re responsible for deploying that stuff, you can determine when that goes out to your users.
Stephen Rose: 49:15 Yeah, there’s also our public roadmap, which is a really great place to take a look at, where are things at and where they’re coming out. One of my favorite tips with Edge is the ability to take a webpage and install it like an app which has been great because that way you get the updates, you can pin it to your toolbar, to your task bar, have that icon, have that right there. And that’s been really useful for a lot of internal business things that we have where I want to have quick access to it. So that’s been one of the features that I have really come to rely upon.
Paul Thurrott: 49:50 Yeah, me too. Actually, if you don’t mind could I build on that real quick? Because one thing that’s really cool about that is it can run and look like an app, right? So you, you pin it to the taskbar essentially, or if it’s an actual PWA can install it. One thing you might want to look at is if you go in the Edge browser, Edge colon, slash, slash, apps, you’ll see a list of those apps that you’ve pinned and installed. And you can right-click on each one. And one of the choices is open in full browser. If that is unchecked, that will open in its own window. It won’t be part of the browser tabs and it will look more like a native app. And so if you kind of looking for that native app experience, it’s kind of, you want to make sure that that’s not checked.
Stephen Rose: 50:31 Yeah. And you can, and you can push that out as part of your deployment. So if there are several internal apps that, let’s say you’re setting up a help desk, whether it’s a virtual workstation or a physical one, those can automatically show up on their desktop or show up in their toolbar. And then it says, Hey, here are the three apps you use every day. And again, we’re bridging that gap between a webpage, a web app, and a real app. It shouldn’t really make a difference. So it’s a much easier way to set that up and do that. And the compatibility is extremely high. And that was really critical, is that we don’t need to worry about, you know, compat mode and quirks mode and all of that stuff to really make sure that out of the box the things you need it to do, will do. Like I said, they’ve just done a fantastic job with it.
Stephen Rose: 51:13 And it’s great and there’s a bunch of really cool features. Go into the settings and take a look cause you’re gonna find a lot of really great stuff. Sync and history and bookmarks. And also if you have both a personal and a business persona, you can actually save it as two separate versions of the browser, which is wonderful. So one for personal browsing for the stuff you’re doing cause it will surface up and remind you of that and one for business if you choose to do it that way, which helps you to keep the hot side hot and the cold side cold.
Paul Thurrott: 51:40 Yeah. And I think you mentioned earlier the ability of Edge to use extensions from the Chrome web store. So if you go into the extension’s interface, you can enable that and then you can go visit the Chrome web store and if for some reason there’s an extension, you can’t find in the edge store. Anything available in Chrome will work as well.
Stephen Rose: 51:58 Yeah. And that was great cause I had one or two that I really, you know, wanted to be able to use and I’m like, wow. And it just works beautifully. I was really, really impressed at how seamless that was and a little surprised, but I was like, wow, it works as advertised. So always, always great to see when we say something works and it actually really does.
Paul Thurrott: 52:15 I couldn’t agree more. It’s one of those things you can recommend without caveat. It’s fantastic.
Stephen Rose: 52:21 It’s good stuff. Well, I’m excited for the rest of the series, the stuff we’re going to be talking about and the opportunity to do so. Security, you talked about some of those new changes. There’s some great stuff, secure score, usage score, things like that. So we’re going to get into some really exciting stuff over the next few weeks, so I appreciate the opportunity.
Paul Thurrott: 52:38 Yes, yes. Me too. Thank you so much and we will see you next time.
Stephen Rose: 52:42 Sounds good. Thanks, Paul.
Paul Thurrott: 52:44 Thank you.
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