What’s happening in Office 365 -Summer 2015

Microsoft Office 365 is presently being integrated with Skype for Business. What this means for the average consumer is that cloud computing has hit the mainstream when it comes to small businesses. Some of the more interesting features of integrating Skype for Business with Office 365 include Skype for Business Voice and actual meeting capabilities inside Office 365. Integrating the two programs offers small business consumers what Microsoft is calling an ‘enterprise-grade’ communication solution built on a global scale. There is, of course, a lot more to it than that.

When can I see it in action?
Throughout the summer, a technical preview is available to give the new cloud integrated system a whirl. As of July 1, Office 365 enterprise customers are able to register for a set of previews related to the modern, integrated system’s capabilities. First on the software runway is Skype Meeting Broadcast. Set as a worldwide preview, this preview offers a Skype for Business meeting to be broadcast globally for up to 10,000 people viewing on a browser through almost every type of device. The bigger picture suggests a future where public webinars and town halls go live online and are watched and participated in by a target or open audience. This preview offers a Bing Pulse add-on that gives active polling. In addition, included is Yammer which lets attendees talk during the broadcast.

PSTN Conference is the second preview for Office 365 U.S customers. This feature opens up the possibilities of Skype for Business Meeting in Office 365 to work on a dial-in rather than just a log-in basis. Now users can pick up the land or cell phone and dial into Skype for business meetings. Even if some of the participants are not in an area with the Internet, they can keep in touch and be at the meeting via telephone. Online options are upgraded to single touch join for PC, smart phone, or browser. Another cool feature of PSTN Conference is the ability to add meeting participants by dialling out.

The third big preview is Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling. This U.S based offer is a game changer, for it offers the functionality to make and receive calls from landlines or mobile phone calls via Skype for Business and enables you to manage them just as a professional reception would. The functions offered include hold, resume, transfer, and forward. This system becomes available for consumers later this year, Cloud PBX will be worldwide and able to be configured with existing on-location phone lines.


What’s ahead this year?
Azure ExpressRoute for Office 365, available later this year, will allow users the ability to make private connections from their site to Microsoft data centres. This is a key strategy toward a more stable network performance, as well as better connections (dedicated) and enhanced data privacy. Office 365 has become a world leader in cloud technology for business. Using the software and add-ons, business people can now communicate in more ways than ever at those important times such as meetings and planning sessions.

Who can get a preview?
Preview eligibility varies depending on the product; however, if you have an Office 365 enterprise plan or a Skype for Business Plan 2, you can try Skype Meeting Broadcast from anywhere in the world. PSTN Conferencing and Cloud PBX with PSTN Calling are only available to U.S customers who have a Skype for Business Plan 2 or Office 365 enterprise plan.

Only Office 365 administrators are eligible for the preview, so if you are an end user you will need to contact your administrator to get hooked up. Unlike some bundle trials, this one is built so that customers can pick any of the trials available in their area to test.
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