What’s new: March 2015

The March Office 365 updates cover an impressive range: previews, significant improvements, new capabilities and connectors, and a new app. You can now preview Office 2016 for Mac, send information in Gmail messages straight to OneNote, preview your notes in OneNote for iPhone, capture web content more easily with OneNote Clipper 2.0, and more.

For Office 365 business users, three new previews are available: Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview, Skype for Business technical preview, and Office 2013 client modern authentication public preview. Admins can now manage access to data on mobile devices, and use the admin app to perform common tasks on the go. Excel Power Query and Delve got significant improvements, and there’s a new Salesforce app for Outlook. And for JavaScript developers, new capabilities for working with the Office 365 APIs are here.

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: February 2015.

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

Office 2016 Mac Preview is here—Office 2016 for Mac is designed to take advantage of the unique features of the Mac. It has full retina display support, full screen view, and even scroll bounce. And it includes updated versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook—with a redesigned ribbon, a refreshed task pane to make positioning, resizing, or rotating graphics easy, and new themes and styles. Office 2016 for Mac is cloud-powered, so you can access your files on OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint on any device. Try the preview now.

OneNote and Yammer welcome a new partner, Obindo—Obindo is the new Google Chrome extension that helps you capture ideas and files from Gmail and send them to OneNote or Yammer without leaving your inbox. Obindo routes all your great ideas, thoughts and files—which often get stuck in email—to OneNote, where you can work with them more easily. You can share a message in Gmail with others in your organization too, or start a conversation by clicking Yammer on the Obindo toolbar.

Updates to OneNote for iPhone and OneNote for Mac—You can now preview notes in OneNote for iPhone, which is handy when you’re on the go and need to a find a specific note. You can also drag and drop your notebooks to easily re-order them. In OneNote for Mac, it’s now even easier to share notebooks. You can invite contacts to collaborate on notebooks, select whether they can view only or edit the notebooks, and remove access when needed.

Introducing OneNote Clipper 2.0—This major update to OneNote Clipper makes capturing web content and enriching that content easier than ever. In response to popular user requests, the user interface was redesigned and new features were added, including a location picker to customize your clipping location, intelligence (for clipping just what you need, minus the clutter), and region clipping for Chrome.

Sway updates—Sway makes it easy to add, visualize and share your content in new, interactive and exciting ways. Based on feedback from users, Sway was recently updated so it’s even easier to use and more powerful. You can now add OneNote images to Sway, use more third-party sources to embed web content, share your Sways in more ways to grow your audience, and more.

Easier navigation and playback with Office Mix—Mixes, unlike other web videos, are partitioned by slides, not time, which makes it easier to re-watch parts—you just click the slide section on the timeline instead of dragging a slider to the right moment. You can also use the Slide Sorter to jump into and out of a mix fast, and the new Slide Content to easily navigate within online presentations and play back the slides you want.

Office 365 for Business updates*

The Office 2016 IT Pro and Developer Preview is here—The preview gives IT pros and developers an opportunity to start testing the upcoming release. The preview doesn’t yet contain all the features planned for the final product, but new features will be delivered through monthly updates during the preview. New features include: data loss protection for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, significant technical improvements to Outlook, new deployments options and more.

Skype for Business technical preview now available—Prepare your organization for Skype for Business! The technical preview of the Skype for Business client is already available, and the new Skype for Business client, server and online service will become generally available starting in April. Skype for Business is the next version of Microsoft Lync, and the technical preview gives current Lync customers a chance to try Skype for Business and get ready to upgrade.

Office 2013 client modern authentication public preview—The Office 2013 client modern authentication features have moved to public preview. Modern authentication brings Active Directory Authentication Library (ADAL)-based sign-in to Office 2013 Windows clients. Previously, only a private preview of modern authentication was available. Now modern authentication is available to any customer running the March 2015 or later update for Office 2013. The public preview program is easier to join and production support is included for participants.

Office 365 Admin app updates—The Office 365 Admin app now enables you to complete common admin tasks when you’re away from your computer, including resetting passwords, adding new hires, or deleting users have left the company. And to help you stay up to date with what’s happening in Office 365, the app now includes the Message Center, the central location for Office 365 service communications.

Improved management of Clutter—Clutter helps you focus on the most important messages in your inbox by moving lower priority messages out of your way into a Clutter folder. Now Office 365 administrators can ensure that critical messages make it into the inbox, personalize Clutter notifications, and set retention policies for Clutter folders.

Built-in mobile device management now available—With mobile device management, you can manage access to Office 365 data across a diverse range of phones and tablets—including iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices—to help keep your data safe. The built-in mobile device management features are included at no additional cost in all Office 365 commercial plans, including Business, Enterprise, Education, and Government plans.

Updates to Excel Power Query—Performance was significantly improved in loading queries and connecting to Excel workbooks. A new Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online connector was added. And several improvements were made in the Query Editor to make some transformations easier, like calculating the difference between two Date/Time columns and disabling column name prefix in the Aggregate columns.

Office Delve worldwide rollout, plus support for new content types—Delve has begun rolling out to all eligible Office 365 business customers worldwide. Delve surfaces relevant content and insights tailored to each person. It’s powered by the Office Graph, which applies machine learning to map the connections between people, content and interactions across Office 365. Delve now surfaces two new types of content:  links shared in Yammer and email attachments.

Announcing Azure ExpressRoute connectivity to Office 365—Starting later this year, Office 365 customers will be able to use Azure ExpressRoute to establish a private, managed connection to Office 365. Currently, ExpressRoute provides customers with dedicated network connectivity through a private connection from their network to Microsoft Azure, and now the same option is available for connectivity to Office 365.

New Salesforce App for Outlook—The new Salesforce App for Outlook gives you a great new way to work with Salesforce right from within Outlook. You can view Salesforce contacts, leads, accounts and opportunities in the context of an email from a customer. Salesforce for Outlook works with Outlook 2013, Office 365, Outlook for Mac and the Outlook Web App (OWA). You can download the Salesforce App for Outlook for free.

Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online available from datacenters in Australia—Office 365 and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online are now available from Australian datacenters. In addition, Office 365 has just successfully completed a formal security assessment for Unclassified Sensitive government data via Australian Government’s Independent Registered Assessors Program (IRAP), with Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online currently under a similar IRAP assessment. These new local services will provide even faster performance, offer geo-redundant back-up, and help customers address data residency considerations.

Office 365 Developer updates

Increasing opportunities for JavaScript developers—New capabilities enable JavaScript developers to interact with the Office 365 APIs. With cross-origin resource sharing (CORS) support, they now have the choice to call the Office 365 APIs from the server side or client side, which means they can write single-page applications. The OneDrive for Business and Sites APIs have CORS support now, and Mail/Calendar/Contacts will get it soon. As more Office 365 API endpoints come online for services, they will also support CORS, including Office Graph, Yammer, Video Portal, Skype and content services.

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.