7 Things Small Businesses Can Expect From the Microsoft Office 365 Upgrades

Microsoft Office 2013 is coming, leaving users of Microsoft’s Cloud-based office suite, Office 365, wondering what changes they will see. Whether your small business is considering switching to 365 or you’re already using it, there are some exciting new features that could help automate some of your more time-consuming activities.

  • As EnPoint points out on its website, Office 365 users will be able to pull up a full version of the software from any PC. “Sign in and gain access to your documents and settings exactly the way you left them,” EnPoint writes. With an increasing number of business users relying on mobile devices to conduct business on the go, this is perhaps one of the most in-demand features right now.
  • Teams will be better able to collaborate on projects, syncing documents and e-mails to Sharepoint to ensure all team members are working on the same version of a document. Even better, multiple team members can edit a document at the same time, allowing for an entire group to work on a document together, in real time.
  • Windows 8 users will enjoy some of 365’s compatible features, including the ability to open, edit, and save documents using a touchscreen interface. This can come in handy if for touchscreen device owners who regularly have a need to sign documents.
  • HD video conferencing is included to help with your presentations on PowerPoint and other Office products. You’ll need only to connect a HD video camera and you’re ready to start presenting. As EnPoint emphasizes, a “Brady Bunch” style of videoconferencing is available in 365 that allows participants to view multiple people at one time.
  • Skype with business associates or employees overseas for up to 60 minutes per month, using the free international calls included with the release.
  • Microsoft brings social integration into Outlook. While interacting with associates through e-mail, users can see multiple e-mail accounts and LinkedIn and Facebook feeds.
  • Office 365 documents will provide easier on-screen reading thanks to 365’s new Read mode. This is especially beneficial if you’re trying to read lengthy documents on tablets or smartphones.

For businesses still using Office 2010, the question may be whether or not to make the big switch to Office 365. The answer is–it depends. Some businesses are far from transferring from desktop PCs to tablets. But for road warriors or business owners who attend quite a few meetings throughout the day, Office 365’s benefits are hard to resist.

One other benefit to Office 365 is its price. With new monthly subscription options, a small business could pay as little as $6 per month per user. Previously, businesses were forced to pay more than $100 for the business version of Microsoft Office. While this reaches hundreds of dollars over the course of a license, Office 365 users benefit by always having the latest version of Office on devices. Plus, with such great collaboration tools, the Cloud version of Office is perfect for today’s multi-device workplace.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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