Welcome back. So, we're still hands on with Microsoft's Outlook Web App (OWA) for Office 365. In part one, we looked at some of the standard features that are included in OWA, and I pointed out some features that are missing but weren't necessarily essential for productivity. Here in part two, we'll be checking out some of the coolest, most useful, and most awesome features Microsoft has included in OWA.
There are many awesome features that are part of the current version of OWA. These are a few of my favorite.
OneDrive for Business Integration
You can now attach files from your OneDrive for Business account to emails, meeting invites, and tasks. This is especially useful if you're on a computer other than your own and need to send a file. You'll have two options - Share or Send. If you share an Office document (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), the recipient will be able to always see the latest changes and can work on the same document as you in real time. The permissions are configurable as well if you wanted to just provide “view only” permissions. If you send the file as an attachment, it's just like the old way you're used to where the recipient gets their own copy and cannot collaborate in real time with you on it.
There are several apps already included in OWA by default that are very helpful: Action Items, Bing Maps, My Templates, Suggested Meetings, and Unsubscribe. You can also add in other popular apps such as LinkedIn, DocuSign, Salesforce, and Insightly. This is a quick overview of the apps included in OWA.
Detects keywords in your email that might suggest that it be flagged for follow up.
Detects addresses, turns them into a link, and when you click on it you'll be presented a Bing Map overlaying your email without having to open up another tab in your browser.
Lets you set pre-defined text and image templates that can be easily inserted into a message with one click. I suppose this could be handy for those of you who find yourself sending or replying with the same text. Microsoft includes three default templates that are editable to get you started.
Shows meeting suggestions found in your email and allows you to add them to your calendar. Just click on the underlined text that it discovered to be presented with something like this:
It's pretty smart at parsing out information like the date and time and setting those values in the calendar entry, but it doesn't always parse out the location so you may have to manually type that in.
The Unsubscribe App
Triggered by messages from subscription email feeds and allows you to block the sender or unsubscribe from the source.
OWA can detect certain keywords in the subject or body of your email and know if you had intentions of attaching a file. Have you ever found yourself to be a little to click-happy when composing a message and clicked Send before you attached the file, only to have to send an additional message with the attachment? OWA will save you from this potentially embarrassing scenario.
I would suggest NOT clicking on the "Don't show me this message again" as it really does come in handy. Whether you clicked on it intentionally or not, don’t worry, you can re-enable it by going into your settings.
Presence & Basic Skype for Business Integration
If your organization uses Skype for Business (formerly known as Lync), presence/availability information for users will be visible all through OWA. Just hover or click on their name or photo. Click on the little “talk bubble” icon to initiate a quick chat session - no local install of Skype for Business needed.
Microsoft is constantly improving and enhancing Office 365 and OWA to meet today's business needs. It's also in the roadmap this year to upgrade the technology and interface of the consumer-facing webmail service Outlook.com with Office 365 to align the platforms of Outlook, Exchange, and Office 365, allowing Microsoft to keep everything consistent and make it easier for developers to hook into what will become a single codebase. The "mobile first, cloud first" strategy continues to run at full speed, and with the big plans they have in store, Microsoft has no intentions of slowing down.