Microsoft Office 365 Mobile Updates Cap Off a Busy Month

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New Lync conferencing capabilities and a revised SkyDrive Pro app for iOS highlight the latest round of updates.

Microsoft is coming off a hectic month in delivering "customer-requested features" to the company's cloud-enabled Office 365 productivity software suite.

In a Nov. 1 blog post, Office 365 technical product manager Andy O'Donald announced that now everyone can "join Lync mobile meetings, even those without Office 365 accounts." He added that administrators "can now purchase domains directly within the service and view Lync Online usage for their organization."

These new capabilities, and several others, underscore Microsoft's goal of delivering faster software releases and updates, which the company views as an essential part of its transformation from a software vendor into a "devices and services company." In July, and a month before the news of CEO Steve Ballmer's impending retirement, the company announced a massive restructuring effort designed to facilitate the change.

On the mobility front, the company released an update for Lync mobile for Windows Phone 8, iPhone and iPad. The refreshed app now allows users to participate in Lync Meetings, even if they don't have Lync accounts, and enables them to launch impromptu, multi-user Lync IM or video conversations on their mobile devices.

Combined with the Lync 2013 release, users can join full voice and video meetings using the 3G, 4G or WiFi connection on their devices. Scheduled meetings can be viewed and joined directly from the app via Exchange calendar integration.

The SkyDrive Pro for iOS now offers (version 1.1) improved "support for viewing and editing documents stored on your iPhone and iPad, and OneNote files open directly in the OneNote app for their respective device," wrote O'Donald. Improved operability between the SkyDrive Pro and OneNote apps provide for a more consistent experience across devices, according to the company.

"Your notes appear the same—even rendering ink-across all your devices (Windows, Windows Phone, Android, iOS). The OneNote file remains connected to your SkyDrive Pro in Office 365, allowing you to keep track of your work notes, all in place, even on the go," boasted Mark Kashman, senior product manager for Microsoft SharePoint, in a post detailing the updates.

Other updates to the Office 365 ecosystem include new Lync reporting capabilities that allow administrators to drill further into usage statistics and metrics. New views include active users, total audio or video minutes, and total audio and video conferencing minutes.

The past month also brought a new integration aimed at helping businesses implement new domain names.

"You can now purchase a custom GoDaddy domain name directly from within Office 365 and we'll automatically set it up for you," Bharath Rambadran, a Microsoft senior product marketing manager, explained in a blog post. 

"If your organization already has a GoDaddy managed domain name, you can update Office 365 to start using that domain name directly from within Office 365, too," added Rambadran.

Other updates include a redesigned, Office developer site, new cross-site collection publishing tools and a Content Search Web Part for SharePoint Online and Office.com Store enhancements, including support for subscription-based apps.

Originally published on www.eweek.com.