13 cool features of Office 365

Microsoft released the official beta version of Office 365 today, but we've been playing with it for a while now. Here are 13 cool features of the cloud-based service that combines Office, SharePoint, Lync and Exchange.

Also read: First look at Microsoft Office 365

Powerful Admin page

A simple Admin page lets support staff easily manage users and configure Exchange, SharePoint and Lync Online services.

Solve problems before they begin

With the "service status" feature, IT staff can monitor Microsoft Office 365 services to help isolate any potential problems.

Smartphone management tools

With ExchangeOnline ActiveSync, IT managers can create device policies to enforce strong passwords and control some hardware features of smartphones.

Let externals users access Sharepoint Online

Administrators may configure SharePoint Online in multiple ways, such as giving Team Site owners the option to invite users from outside your organization.

Team Site extends email

Within SharePoint Online, Team Site stewards can quickly add users with external e-mail addresses.

Rich Outlook functionality

The Outlook Web Application offers much of the rich functionality found in the desktop application, including right-click access to many functions.

Robust calendaring

The Office 365 Outlook Web App includes the same robust calendar and scheduling capabilities available in the desktop client.

Keep tabs on colleagues

Whether using the Outlook desktop or Web App, users can always see the online status of colleagues and immediately invoke Lync Online to start an IM session or a full meeting.

Sophisticated document sharing

Office Plus applications provide several clear options to share documents that reside in a SharePoint Online Team Site.

Powerful document editing

Whether revised in the native application or in different browsers, document viewing and editing functions are robust.

Concurrent authoring

Office 365 does an excellent job of showing who is concurrently authoring a document – and the specific changes each author makes.

Offline-online synchronization

SharePoint Workspace lets users take documents offline and then synchronize changes when a connection to Office 365 is available.

Smartphone access

The Office Hub on Windows Phone 7 devices lets users access Team Sites document libraries and work with documents on the smartphone.

Also read: First look at Microsoft Office 365