Whether at work or at home, most folks have some experience using Microsoft’s Office 365 services. But several competitors have sprouted up over the past few years that threaten to disrupt the ubiquitous platform. At Build 2019, Microsoft showed off several new features designed to keep users and business using Windows 10 and Office 365 software.
Here are the biggest features announced for Microsoft 365 at Build 2019.
Introduced at Build 2019, Fluid Framework is a new web platform for Office 365 that is designed to make document creation and editing more fluid across multiple users (a la Google Docs). Microsoft says the new feature will allow content from the web and apps can be extracted and shared by several people so they more easily collaborate.
Microsoft didn’t provide specifics about how Fluid Framework would work, but the company said it would enable multi-person and co-authoring. Microsoft will also integrate what it calls intelligent agents, or AI-powered bots that help you gather data, pull up photo suggests and translate languages.
Fluid will be available to developers later this year, while the first uses of Fluent in Microsoft 365 should come to consumers not long after.
Windows Hello on 365
Windows Hello password-less authentication is coming to more apps and services now that the login method has gained FIDO2 certification. That means Hello adheres to a strict set of specifications crafted to improve security, protect people’s privacy and solve the annoyances caused by username and passwords.
Now that Hello is FIDO2 certified, any website or application can use the fingerprint sensor or IR camera on your Windows 10 laptop for authentication. To further Microsoft’s goal for ridding the internet of passwords, the company is extending support for passwordless account sign-in to Firefox and “other browsers.” Users can already login to their Microsoft account on the latest version of Edge.
Ideas in Word Online
Microsoft is bringing several features from its discrete Word program to Word Online. Called Ideas in Word, those features include Word Designer, Time-to-Read and Highlight Extraction, or the ability to pull highlighted text into a separate document.
In a demo, Microsoft showed how Word Online uses artificial intelligence to improve your writing. In one example, the AI suggested changing “chairman” to “chairperson” to make the language gender inclusive. The Ideas feature also provided suggestions to replace clunky phrases, making the document easier to read.
Ideas in Word will be available to Windows Insiders in June before a wider roll out this Fall.
Microsoft unveiled a new search service that uses AI technology from Bing and insight from Microsoft Graph. Microsoft Search is designed for enterprise users as a way to improve search across an entire organization.
Details are somewhat vague, but the software giant said that it would overhaul the search experience across 365 brands, including SharePoint, OneDrive, Office, Bing and Windows. Those changes include moving the search box to a more prominent location as well as zero-query typing (suggestions will autofill before you start typing), key-phrase suggestion and a query history feature. Microsoft assured that IT teams would have access to the most popular searches across an organization, but not vision into the search history of individuals.
Microsoft Search will launch to Microsoft 365 and Office 365 commercial subscription at the end of May.
Cortana Skills Kit
Businesses will soon be able to build their own custom Cortana skills using a new development kit for enterprises. The platform will let businesses create their own tools based around the voice assistant.
The development kit is currently in a limited private preview, and Microsoft did not disclose a wider launch date.