Friday, 13 July 2018 04:01

Microsoft adds more smarts to Microsoft 365

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A Microsoft 365 live event A Microsoft 365 live event

Microsoft 365 "brings together a great family of products", according to Microsoft Australia's Microsoft 365 director Evan Williams, and now the company is applying AI to further improve it.

Microsoft is "infusing AI into the [Microsoft 365] portfolio" and will deliver innovations at six-monthly intervals, Williams told iTWire.

The first of these makes it easy for anyone to create a live event that can be viewed in real-time or on-demand, with high-definition video and interactive discussion.

This capability is already used by Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella to conduct 'all hands' meetings, he observed.

AI is used in various ways in live events. There's automatic speech-to-text transcription, with face detection to identify who is talking, making it easy to jump to a particular speaker when replaying the event. The real-time transcript is also used to create closed captions for improved accessibility.

The complexity of a live event can range from a Web cam and screen sharing right through to studio-quality productions.

A public preview of live events will be available in the paid version of Microsoft Teams, Yammer and in Microsoft Stream over the next month.

Another development is Workplace Analytics.

This takes information collected in Office 365, and deidentifies and analyses it to generate suggestions for improving collaboration.

A similar capability is being built into Office 365's Outlook application. Williams described this new My Analytics feature as "a fitness tracker for your work". It delivers suggestions such as reserving periods of time for focussed work, ways to make meetings more effective, and tips for improving work/life balance (eg "Your colleagues have been responding to your mails outside typical working hours. Consider clarifying urgency.")

My Analytics displaying a 'nudge' within Outlook

My Analytics displaying a "nudge" within Outlook.

Microsoft also announced that its Whiteboard shared digital canvas application is now generally available for Windows 10 (via the Windows Store) and iOS (via the App Store). The web implementation is now in preview.

The Windows 10 version can be used with a free Microsoft Account, but the iOS and Web versions currently require an Office 365 commercial account.

An Android app is planned, along with integration between Whiteboard and Teams.

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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