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What’s new: December 2015

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Improvements to Office 365 kept flowing through the holiday season, bringing even more value to Office 365. The new Skype for Business for Android is here! The Power Pivot data model in Excel 2016 got smart rename support and Access 2016 Runtime became available. For business, the popular First Release program added more services, the Office 365 Compliance Center became the Office 365 Protection Center, Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery arrived and the Office 365 Planner preview started rolling out. To help you schedule meetings faster, there’s a new Outlook add-in called FindTime. The big news for developers is the availability on GitHub of Matter Center, an Office 365 add-in and SharePoint-based document collaboration solution designed to increase productivity for legal professionals.

Leave us a comment to let us know what your favorite new feature is. If you missed last month’s updates, see What’s new: November 2015.

Office 365 Personal, Office 365 Home and Office 365 University updates

Smart rename support in data model for Excel 2016—Now in Excel 2016, when you rename a table, column or DAX measure in the Power Pivot data model, the rename is propagated through the workbook and all affected objects in the workbook. This significantly improves the analyst’s workflow, simplifying the scenarios when you rename a table, column, calculated field, measure or hierarchy in the Power Pivot window.

Access 2016 Runtime available for download—Access 2016 provides a rich platform for developing database management solutions with easy-to-use customization tools. If no end-user customization is required, you can distribute your Access 2016 solutions so they run without a full installation of Access 2016. To do so, you must package and distribute your application with Access 2016 Runtime.

Microsoft Translator brings natural translation to wearables—Now you can speak into your Android and iOS wearables and receive a translation on your phone, which can then be handed to another person, who can continue the dialogue—creating natural, translated conversation. Translation is available for English, Mandarin Chinese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.

Office Mobile for Windows 10 phone, updates for Apple and Android, Office 365 Planner preview and more—A host of new apps and features arrived this month. Windows 10 phones now ship with Office Mobile. Updates for Office across Apple and Android include OpenDocument support for Mac and iOS, Skype for Business for Android and more. The preview for Office 365 Planner, a new app that helps teams easily organize their work, started rolling out to commercial First Release customers. In addition, new tools were added for IT admins.

Office 365 for Business and Education updates*

Office 365 brings significant new value to businesses worldwide—New Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscription brings communications services—like PSTN conferencing, Skype Meeting Broadcast and PSTN calling—enabling you to modernize your voice, video and meeting experiences while saving substantial costs in your communication infrastructure. Also, new security and analytics capabilities—like Delve Analytics and Customer Lockbox—dramatically improve your ability to protect information and glean insights from data.

Schedule meetings faster with FindTime—Spend less time this year deciding when to meet! Use FindTime, an Outlook add-in, which helps you find the best meeting time fast. FindTime helps you pinpoint times to meet by looking at available free/busy data for your attendees and creates a poll where attendees can vote on the times you suggest or suggest new times. Once you reach consensus, FindTime sends out the meeting invite on your behalf.

3 enhancements to Project Online—Email notifications were improved to help keep you on top of what’s coming, what’s happening and what’s due. You can now generate a unique project ID for each new project, so you can refer to a project independently of the project name. And the limits on all custom field limits for reporting were increased, so you can include more project text custom fields in reports.

New Sway admin controls—To help Office 365 admins better manage the way Sway is used within their organizations, new capabilities were added. Now you can assign access to Sway on an individual or group basis, control which third-party sources are enabled in the Sway Insert tab and see the Sway service status in the Service Health Dashboard in the Office 365 admin center as well as the Office 365 Admin app.

More services join First Release—Office 365 ProPlus and Office 365 Business subscriptions now have First Release builds of the Office client, and SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business added support for the First Release Select People option. Service update communications improvements include a revamped Message Center in the Office 365 Admin Center Preview, push notifications for Message Center posts in the Office 365 Admin app and new filters and tags in the Office 365 for business roadmap.

Office 365 Groups updates—Office 365 Groups now supports eDiscovery, litigation hold and other compliance capabilities. Directory management updates include the addition of dynamic membership, which enables administrators to create groups with rule-based memberships using the Azure Management Portal. Read about these and the enhancements planned for 2016 in compliance and protection, directory management and the administrative experience.

Manage your security and compliance needs with the new Office 365 Protection Center—With the recent launch of Advanced Threat Protection (ATP), Data Loss Prevention (DLP) and Mobile Device Management (MDM), the Office 365 Compliance Center was expanded, redesigned and renamed. It’s now called the “Office 365 Protection Center,” and the new user experience is more intuitive, informative, scalable and insightful. Existing Compliance Center customers will begin transitioning to the Protection Center in early 2016.

Reduce eDiscovery costs and challenges with Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery—Quickly investigate and meet legal obligations. Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery integrates Equivio machine learning, predictive coding and text analytics capabilities to reduce the costs and challenges that come with sorting through large quantities of data for eDiscovery purposes. Office 365 Advanced eDiscovery is part of the new Office 365 Enterprise E5 plan. Learn more and see it in action.

Admins, get ready for Office 365 Planner preview!—The Office 365 Planner preview is rolling out to First Release customers. Office 365 administrators who have opted into First Release will receive an email with instructions for setting up the preview. Once administrators have set it up, users can launch Planner from the Office 365 app launcher. Office 365 Planner offers a simple, visual way to organize teamwork.

Announcing the Office 365 ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 audit assessment report—Independent third-party auditors tested Office 365 against ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 standards, and you can now find the Office 365 ISO 27001 and ISO 27018 audit assessment report in the compliance reports section on the Office 365 Service Trust Portal. The report provides assurance around implementation of an information security management system, controls to protect PII and implementation of an information security risk management program.

OneDrive for Business storage and sync updates—OneDrive for Business unlimited storage is rolling out to Office 365 customers with select Enterprise, Government and Education plans. The rollout of increased storage to these customers is expected to complete by the end of March 2016. The OneDrive for Business Next Generation Sync Client for Windows and for Mac is now available. It delivers improved reliability and performance, plus selective sync, support for files up to 10 GB and more. Check out the improvements to the mobile apps and the new OneDrive for Business API, too.

Skype for Business for Android now available—Highlights of the new Skype for Business app for Android include: a new dashboard design that brings the contact search bar, your upcoming meetings and most recent conversations to one place; a contact search bar that allows you to search your Global Address List by name, email or a phone number; and modern authentication support. You can get the app in the Google Play store. Android users with Lync 2013 will be automatically updated to the app.

Smarter address book and flight confirmations coming to Outlook on the web—New features are coming soon to Outlook on the web to help you get things done faster and avoid common mistakes like forgetting how to spell someone’s name, leaving someone out of a group email or forgetting to add a flight to your calendar. The Events from email feature and the new features that learn from you to help you write emails faster will roll out to commercial First Release customers soon, and broadly by March 2016.

Office 365 developer updates

Monthly Dev Digest—Hack productivity and OneDrive API are the highlights this month. A recent podcast showcases submissions to in-person hackathons. You can register for the new virtual hackathon run over at msoffice365.devpost.com—grand prize of $10,000. OneDrive API is now available for OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online, with new functionality being added all the time. As always, get the list of new and updated dev documentation, code samples, add-ins, Office Dev podcasts, patterns and practices, blog posts, Office Store news and upcoming events.

Matter Center for Office 365 now available in GitHub—Matter Center is an Office 365 add-in and SharePoint-based document collaboration solution designed to increase productivity for legal professionals while supporting seamless access from any device. Now available to a broad community of developers through GitHub, Matter Center allows developers to deliver solutions for users in the legal space, demonstrates the capabilities of Office as a solutions platform and offers a compelling model for collaboration with developers and partners.

Please note that some of the updates may take time to show up in your Office 365 account, because they’re being rolled out to customers worldwide.

—Andy O’Donald @andyodonald

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*Not all updates apply to every Office 365 plan; please check the individual post for specifics.

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1 comments
  1. OK it’s good to know there is progress. The next big step should be the SfB for Mac client. The old and outdated Lync 2011 for Mac client is working less and less and has become absolutely terrible to work with.

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