Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How collaboration works in Office 365

Here’s the first part of an article I’ve just written from BoxFreeIT. You’ll find the link to the full article at the end

Microsoft takes a different approach to co-editing in Google Apps.

Collaboration – sharing information in different ways with colleagues, customers and suppliers – is one of the great attractions of cloud computing and has already started to reinvent how people work together.

 

Microsoft promises that collaboration is a central goal of its cloud productivity suite Office 365, but it has taken a different approach to co-authoring documents, one of the key pillars of collaboration.

 

Google Apps allows co-editing where two or more people can edit the exact same part of a document or spreadsheet. Microsoft allows users to co-author the same document, however they cannot edit the same paragraph. And unlike Google Docs, users do not see live updates from other users.

 

In its research Microsoft found that having multiple real-time edits happening on the one page was very distracting. Instead, co-authoring in Office 365 automatically locks the paragraph on which a user is working. Co-authoring users see updates only when the document is saved back to Office 365.

 

Many of the Office 2010 applications such as Word natively support co-authoring. This means multiple people can open Office documents via the desktop applications and work on them concurrently. This is all supported by default and when multiple people are working on a document each user receives notification of who is working on the document.

Once a document is refreshed, users will see parts of the document highlighted to show edits by others. A user can give exclusive access to a document by “checking it out”, a metaphor similar to borrowing a book from a library. Other users can only edit the document once it has been checked in again.

 

There are some limitations when it comes to co-authoring in Office 365. For example, it is currently not possible to co-author Excel spreadsheets on the desktop but it is through Office Web Apps. The reason is that Excel recalculates every time a user enters information which could change values throughout the spreadsheet.

 

The Office Web Apps version of Excel does not yet have all the features of the desktop edition but it does allow co-authoring. It is expected that all Office applications will support full co-authoring in future.

 

For more detailed information about Microsoft Office co-authoring take a look at this article from Microsoft.

 

To view the full article go to - http://boxfreeit.com.au/Productivity/check-in-check-out-how-collaboration-works-in-office-365.html