From April 21st 2020, Office 265 became Microsoft 365 – To better reflect that the service now isn’t just an office package, but an entire cloud-based software ecosystem that can be used for daily life; for personal, home, social and business use.
Tracking and analysing your data using Excel just became easier; with new methods of interacting with, storing, sorting and collating your data. It recognises keywords and matches them to a type, such as animals, food, stocks or geographic data.
Microsoft 365 subscribers will be able to leverage new smart templates and data types enabled by Excel’s new connection to Wolfram Alpha to find new ways to store, interpret, enhance and analyse their data. The linked information is drawn from a database that is updated constantly, so any stored data inside documents will also reflect any changes that are made, keeping relevant information up-to-date.
While geared towards individuals and families, this new feature may also be of use to very small businesses, sole traders or new start-ups. Using the Plaid API, Excel will soon be able to connect to your bank and credit card accounts, giving you access to everything in one convenient place; allowing you to track, analyse and manage your income and outgoings. This feature is being rolled out gradually, and will only be available in the US to start with. A similar UK rollout is planned, but this will happen over a period of time, to ensure that everything is stable and working as intended.
New features in Outlook on the web mean that you can link your personal and work calendars to see everything in one place; this means you can see your full personal availability on your work calendar – while still keeping the information private – helping you to avoid clashes between work and personal appointments.
Microsoft is continuing to invest in its video and audio communications platform, Skype. As you may expect, during lockdown, there has been a massive increase in use, and Microsoft are determined to meet demand. People are using Skype not just to keep up with long-distance friends or relatives now, but also work colleagues and nearby friends and family members who are outside of their household during lockdown. To compete with Zoom, Microsoft has launched Meet Now for Skype, which enables people to quickly create video meetings for free, or join a video meeting without downloading anything or signing up.
While we’re all trying to continue on as best we can during lockdown and the following months as we all find and adjust to our “new normal”, we think you’ll agree that it’s good to see some tech companies stepping up their services to better meet the demands of a physically separated workforce. These enhanced features will be a welcome and useful change for many; for now at least, Microsoft seems to be keeping their pricing structure instead of hiking their prices – which is perhaps even more important and welcome information in the current economic climate.