Posts Tagged IOS

Is Google in panic mode?

I have owned an iPhone since they launched in 2007 and an iPad from day one. I love Apple products, however I found it frustrating that Microsoft’s attitude towards the device was one of a competitor rather than just another platform to deliver software and services to. I had the desire to edit documents on my iOS device and had a look around for a version of Office, as we all know none existed, however Quick Office appeared to deliver quite a good experience on both the iPhone and the iPad, it had slick integration with Dropbox and Google docs as well as the ability to send files to and from my Mac/PC over Wifi.

I have used the version of Office that is baked into Windows Phone 7 as well and it IS better, however Quick Office already addressed a large chunk of the mobile / tablet market with some recorded 400 Million users! That is a Massive number and something that Microsoft needs to be aware of when it tries to use the functionality upsell story of their own product. 400 Million users have decided Quick Office fills the gap that the lack of Microsoft Office for iOS left.

The recent news that Google purchased Quick Office came as no surprise to me. A rich “office” experience on the iOS has been lacking an really Quick Office is the only company in the last 2 years to come close to what Microsoft has already established in the desktop world. I do get the feeling that Google are changing their direction with this purchase, remember Google are the company that until recently were pushing a “browser centric” operating system (Chrome OS). The browser (until now) has formed one of Googles more convincing sales pitches, that is all of your information exists purely in the browser/cloud, there is no need for a client application. I disagreed with this approach, applications accessing cloud services is the best experience in my opinion and it would seem that Google have started to recognize this as well with the purchase of Quick Office.

Expect things to get interesting when Microsoft launch their version of Office for iOS later this year (rumored to be November 10th 2012). Microsoft are the current kings of collaboration, offering a richer integration that what Quick Office offered, however the “good enough” approach may see some users stick with Quick Office and wait for the improvements that arise out of the Google partnership.

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Sharepoint adoption

Taxonomy is a word that is used quite frequently when describing the classification and management of information within Sharepoint. Sharepoint is the information management component of Office 365, and as great as it is there can be some hurdles to getting users to adopt it. In a perfect world Sharepoint would replace the file share and any other document based processes within your business. Chris Riley blogged recently on Taxonomy and how important it is to any Sharepoint deployment, cloud or on premise.

Taxonomy Planning in SharePoint 2010 – End User – NothingButSharePoint.com.

The biggest limitation with Sharepoint is that there are NO limitations… Time and time again Sharepoint deployments fail due to lack of planning. You can plan your Sharepoint deployment so that your users aren’t put off. Keeping it simple and easy to understand while at the same time enforcing a level of governance to ensure the data stored is searchable and relevant.

Going from a file share to Sharepoint takes some getting used to and with a good amount a planning it should make logical sense to the user from the get-go. One of the tools we have found to be useful that allow users to work from a familiar environment is Harmon.ie . This tool is a plug in for Outlook and is accessible from the main Outlook pane or any new calendar or mail item. It allows a user to interact with their Sharepoint sites and document libraries right from within Outlook, no need to change to a different app or grapple with the browser experience. Navigation is handled similar to traditional folder structures and its that familiar navigation that adds to its ease of use.

Harmon.ie is free up to 250 seats however there is an “Enterprise” version available for USD$129/user/year. There is also an iPad and iPhone client available for free, this client allows navigation of your Sharepoint sites and at a glance view the documents and their meta data. With the current lack of Office for iOS the premium version of the iOS client will take a user to the Web App interface for quick editing of documents. My iPad uses a version of Quick Office (a 3rd party Office style editor) and Harmon.ie recognizes this and allows you to edit documents in this app seamlessly.

The important thing from an administrative point of view is to architect the structure of the information within Sharepoint ahead of time. The moment users are able to access the site they will revert to old habits if strict governance isn’t present. Office 365 has to be the cheapest content management solution on the market and with some good planning it can be the best experience for an end-user as well.

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WIX now offers HTML5!

In one of my earlier posts I talked about a company called WIX who offered a cloud website service allowing users to create beautiful animated websites. One of the small issues I had with the experience was that it limited you to publishing the site using Flash. I was first alerted to the potential for this to change two weeks ago when I saw the Flash logo hovering above the site I had created, it was possible Flash was to become an option. And indeed it did, you now have an option to create your website in HTML5. This comes as welcome news to those of us who understand the difficulty in getting good search engine results (SEO) using Flash based websites.

The introduction of HTML5 to the WIX websites follows what the industry has been asking for, HTML5 is now a multi platform language that supports the ubiquitous iOS operating system used on iPads and iPhones. Previously WIX had offered a “work around” for the iOS devices by providing a separate m.yourdomain.com website however this didn’t share the content from your main site and was very limited in functionality. Now with the new iPad having better resolution than your average HDTV it makes sense to offer the same content on both platforms.

Wix Flash website options

The NEW HTML5 offering from Wix

As you can see along with the addition of HTML5, there is an option for users to create their Facebook page layout using the WIX tools and templates. There is still the option to create the legacy “low fi” mobile site as well. This is a great example of what you get when choosing a cloud offering, a feature addition without additional cost.

There are a couple of things I should point out however, you can’t migrate your existing Flash site to HTML5 (kind of makes sense really) and the HTML5 editor still has a “beta” moniker… that won’t bother me as I always make good use of that “save” button!

Go… create and enjoy!

http://www.wix.com/create/website/html

WIX HTML5 Editor

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The next step in productivity

When talking to customers about the advantages of “cloud” computing the story usually focuses around the cost of running their own email server vs a hosted exchange cost. The experience of not running your own IT infrastructure has its upside as well with the reduction of risk to your business with the enterprise level support you get with todays cloud providers.

The Microsoft Office 365 suite provides a great story, offering real value in a per user per month cost of Office 2010 and the “back office” products; Exchange, Sharepoint and Lync. The one story I still struggle with is the use of the Sharepoint component. Recently it proved to become easier when I linked it with a CRM deployment story, using Sharepoint as the common document repository for all customer data. This in my view is still selling the story of Sharepoint short, it doesn’t quite create a compelling reason for a customer to adopt the Sharepoint way of life. Sharepoint requires effort from the customer to set it up and architect the data it stores, more importantly it needs adoption by the end user to be a success and this part will in my opinion become easier.

The imminent release of Windows 8 excites me, not for the simple reason it is the “next version” of Windows, but the fact that it will fundamentally change the way in which people work. I believe the most important part of the Windows 8 story will be Office “wave 15” or the next version of the ubiquitous productivity suite from Microsoft. With the current version of Office 2010 (wave 14) and the release of Sharepoint 2010 we saw the introduction of Office Web Apps. This delivered an experience of Office 2010 to the browser, and for the most part it delivered. It provided users with the ability to work ad-hoc in a browser environment, if only to collaborate with others or simply for convenience the browser version of the Office apps allowed users to approach collaboration in a different way. This was much much more than a compete play against Google apps. The next version of Office will deliver the office experience to any user on any device, and by any device I’m looking at you iOS.

It would seem that the adoption of the Apple iPhone and later on the iPad was much to Microsofts dismay. In my time at Microsoft (2008 – 2011) I owned an iPhone and an iPad and was constantly frustrated with the way in which my fellow employees considered the device. Rather than just a competitor I saw it as an opportunity, another platform which Microsoft could deliver its productivity suite to. With the release of iOS 2.0 Exchange ActiveSync was licensed by Apple allowing a rich email experience on the iOS devices. This meant many  “enterprise” customers were now able to consider the iPhone as a smartphone platform and indeed it became the CEO showoff device of choice.

I predict the next version of Office 15 will become available as a fully fledged “app” available on the iOS devices, both iPad and iPhone, this isn’t hard to guess as there are already apps for the Lync and One Note clients. It will be the browser version of Office Web Apps will take the connected touch experience to the next level. This isn’t necessarily something that will be driven by iOS but more by the touch driven interface of Windows 8. The Metro interface has been hugely successful on Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8 consumer preview. I predict Microsoft will introduce the Metro interface to iOS users in the next version of Office, by way of apps or web apps. Metro offers a clean touch experience that most users today expect from their smartphones. Taking away the clutter from tool bars and re-focusing the productivity apps for touch will see end users using their devices more. Both Apple and Microsoft are making changes to offer a more simplified experience to users of their desktop operating systems, OSX and Windows respectively. Apple are approaching it gradually by introducing features from their iOS platform to their desktop operating system with changes appearing in Lion and soon to be released Mountain Lion. Microsoft on the other hand are making a much bolder statement with the Metro interface from their mobile platform being the “default” for Windows 8.

Interfaces aside the constant connection to information will be the main driver for customers to choose a cloud solution. The Sharepoint story will make more sense with the next version of Office, further enhancing the experience for the end user. Users will expect to have the same experience on any device and be able to access their data from wherever they are.

Microsoft Office "15" logo

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