Attach and Share Files in Outlook Directly From OneDrive (Business and Consumer)

In two separate posts on the Office Blogs on October 8, Microsoft announced ways to easily share files in Outlook Web App and Outlook.com directly from OneDrive for Business and OneDrive respectively.

Advantages of sharing links vs attaching files

The advantages of attaching links as opposed to actually sending the files are:

  • Large files don’t have to move in email necessarily, thereby reducing the chances of emails bouncing off email servers which don’t accept attachments above a certain size.
  • If this is a file which can be edited online (for example, Office apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint which can be co-edited in Office Online), it does not have multiple versions floating across multiple people’s emails.
  • Permissions can be revoked at any time by the person sharing the file. This way, if a project is done and one does not want the rest of the team to have access to that file anymore, they can go to OneDrive for Business or OneDrive and remove that person’s email address from the list.

How it works: Outlook Web App

The way it works on Outlook Web App is as follows: start an email as always, and under the file attachment area, use the “attachments or OneDrive files” option. After a file is selected from OneDrive for Business, it creates a link to the file in the email as well as applies the appropriate permissions to everyone in the To and CC list. By default, everyone on To and CC get permissions to edit the file, but each file’s access can be edited after attaching, so certain people can be limited to read-only vs edit.

Insert attachments from OneDrive
Insert attachments from OneDrive

 

Insert files from OneDrive for Business
Insert files from OneDrive for Business

 

Attachment from OneDrive or local PC choice
Attachment from OneDrive or local PC choice

 

If one chooses a file on the local PC instead of from OneDrive for Business, the file is first uploaded to OneDrive for Business and then a link is generated to the file as above.

 

Outlook Web App attachment from OneDrive
Outlook Web App attachment from OneDrive
Outlook Web App attachment permission edit
Outlook Web App attachment permission edit
OneDrive attachment manage permissions
OneDrive attachment manage permissions

 

In addition, this functionality is also available on the OWA apps on iPhone, iPad and Android.

 

Outlook Web App for iPad
Outlook Web App for iPad
Outlook Web App for iPhone
Outlook Web App for iPhone

 

Co-authoring

Another feature to note here is that when someone gets an attachment in this way, and they open the file, it opens the file in co-author mode. This way, multiple people can edit the documents at the same time, keeping a single version of the file.

 

Outlook Web App attachment editing
Outlook Web App attachment editing
Outlook Web App co-authoring
Outlook Web App co-authoring
Outlook Web App Side-by-Side view
Outlook Web App Side-by-Side view

 

How it works: Outlook.com

Much like how it works with Outlook Web App, when you insert an attachment from OneDrive in the Outlook.com web app, it will send the file as a link. In both Outlook Web App and Outlook.com, the recipients will see the attachments almost the same as how they see normal attachments. The recipients will see a cloud icon on the icon of the attachment, and text which says that the file is on OneDrive.

 

OneDrive attached file in other email clients
OneDrive attached file in other email clients
OneDrive attached file in Outlook Web App
OneDrive attached file in Outlook Web App


This is a neat idea and I do hope we move away from email attachment overload, it’s just that we are so used to physical attachments, it is going to be a hard change to see through. However, with more and more cloud storage being offered by the key players in the platforms space (Google, Apple and Microsoft), I do see a future where many of us will make cloud storage our primary document repository. If that happens, I am hoping the email attachment culture will reduce and we move to link-sharing.

How do you send large attachments? Let us know in the comments below!

OneDrive iOS App Update: PIN, TouchID, Sorting, iPhone 6 Support

The OneDrive app for iOS is updated and available in the iTunes App Store as of October 8. Given the iterative nature of app updates at Microsoft, this update brings a bunch of unrelated updates to the app, described below.

PIN and TouchID

Given that as customers start trusting the cloud storage service more, and start putting more stuff there, there is bound to be cases where they store information that they wouldn’t want others to see mistakenly. In order to protect the contents of OneDrive, the app now supports adding a PIN so that even if someone is able to steal the phone and get access to the phone itself, they would need another level of security to access the app’s contents.

In addition, on those devices that support TouchID, the OneDrive app now allows the PIN to be entered via TouchID. The TouchID access to third party apps is a feature introduced in iOS 8, so in addition to the device being able to support TouchID, it will also need to be updated to iOS 8 in order to get access to this feature.

OneDrive iOS App: TouchID
OneDrive iOS App: TouchID

 

Sorting

Now it is possible to sort the contents in OneDrive app in a variety of ways. This helps in getting to the latest or the oldest files quickly.

OneDrive iOS App: Sorting
OneDrive iOS App: Sorting

 

Large Screen Support

Also, the app now supports larger screens on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, which means one can see more files and folders on the larger screens.

I am personally happy to see the PIN support because I have now uploaded all my documents, music and many videos to OneDrive, given that I have 1TB of cloud storage (via Office 365 Home subscription). I immediately set up a PIN and enabled TouchID and it is working well.

What would you like to see added to the app next? (You know that they have a uservoice site for making your voice heard, right?

Microsoft and Adobe: Productivity and Platforms Companies Partner Closely

At Adobe’s Adobe MAX conference in Los Angeles on October 6, officials announced a host of updates across their entire product line, and several new creative-focused apps and SDK.

One of the several themes in the conference was Adobe working hard to make their products work across all devices. In making this point, they demonstrated several products using iPhone, iPad and Surface Pro 3. The demo on Surface Pro 3 showed the full Illustrator application, not a scaled down touch app, working very well with touch and stylus while keeping the mouse functionality intact.

In a surprise, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined in the keynote, and in his company, Adobe demonstrated how well their applications worked with touch, vision and speech on a Surface Pro 3. The final demo was on a Perceptive Pixel display where they were able to show how multiple people can physically collaborate and work on a digital product together. This includes multi-hand, multi-touch manipulation of information on the large display.

Nadella’s presence was to drive home the point that Adobe is committed to making their software work on a variety of devices, enabling the creative professionals to be unshackled from the physical hardware they are working on, including 2-in-1 devices like Surface as well as large displays like the Perceptive Pixels. Narayen also made the point that Adobe wants to make sure their software works well by partnering with hardware and software makers and especially working very closely with companies like Microsoft.

Satya Nadells and Shantanu Narayen at Adobe MAX
Satya Nadells and Shantanu Narayen at Adobe MAX

From Microsoft’s perspective, Nadella focused on his four key mantras: mobile-first and cloud-first mentality in building software, along with the core philosophy at Microsoft which is to be the platform maker upon which others build as well as being at the forefront of productivity. For the audience at Adobe MAX, Nadella talked about how creative professionals can build upon the platform created by Adobe with enhanced productivity that a device like Surface Pro 3 provides in the form of native support of touch screen and stylus.

Adobe Illustrator on Surface Pro 3
Adobe Illustrator on Surface Pro 3
Adobe Photoshop on Surface Pro 3
Adobe Photoshop on Surface Pro 3

 

The collaboration between Microsoft and Adobe is very interesting because for the longest time, it seemed like Adobe would be a good acquisition target for Microsoft which builds platforms for developers and IT pros but lack a suite for the creative folks. However, it does seem like the two companies are ok working very closely with each other (building Adobe Flash into Metro Internet Explorer was another unrelated collaboration) rather than be part of one company. Perhaps Microsoft realized that Adobe is the leader across a variety of software catered to creative professionals and it is best to court them and work closely with them.

Finally, in an Oprah moment, Nadella announced that all the attendees at Adobe MAX would be receiving a Surface Pro 3 along with Office 365 which includes 1TB of cloud storage. Surprisingly, this announcement received a standing ovation!

Microsoft Adds Another App to Office: Sway

In a blog post on Office Blogs on October 1, Microsoft announced the launch of a new design-focused app in the Office family, called Sway. In keeping with the new “mobile-first, cloud-first” mantra at Microsoft, this app is built for the web and for all kinds of devices from the ground up. It is not a desktop application which was fine tuned to run on mobile devices, but instead it was built keeping a multi-device world in mind.

Sway can be thought of as another “storytelling” app which makes it easy for anyone to tell a story. This is done in a beautiful interface which scales itself to fill screens of all sizes, and leverages popular cloud storage and services like OneDrive, Facebook and YouTube. It blends text, images, embedded video and search in a variety of formats and layouts and makes creating projects (or “telling stories”) a fun exercise. The layouts get adjusted according to the content that keeps getting added to the canvas, which itself is called a Sway, and this is thanks to the work done by Microsoft Research.

An introduction video posted on the Office Blogs shows many different devices used to create the story:


Interestingly, much like PowerPoint’s Mix app/feature, Sway lets the stories be interactive so it enables collaboration among teams, friends and family. Currently, it looks like it supports many consumer services but the Office team promises increased business functionality in the form of support for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint, integration with the Office Graph and more.

Sway is currently in preview and one can request an invite at Sway.com.

Here is an example of an embedded Sway:

 

Lumia 830 Launched In India For INR 28,799

Along with the Lumia 730 selfie smartphone, Microsoft also launched the successor of the Lumia 825 smartphone in india. The Lumia 830 packs a 10 megapixel PureView camera with ZEISS optics and thinnest Optical Image Stabilization system. Apart from that, it comes with a 5 inch HD Curved Glass Display and a 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor.

Lumia 830 runs on the Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System with the Lumia Denim update. This handset will go on sale from October 8 in India. Lumia 830 comes with a price-tag of INR 28,799. This device will be available in Orange, White and Black colors. Microsoft also offers 1 TB of cloud storage on One Drive free for the first 6 months. Lumia 830 will compete with the recently launched 2nd generation Moto X in the Indian market.

Lumia 830 Specifications:

  • 5 inch HD Curved Glass Display
  • 1280 x 720 pixels resolution
  • Corning Gorilla Glass 3
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 400 processor
  • Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System with Lumia Denim
  • 10 megapixel PureView camera with ZEISS optics
  • Rich Recording and Optical Image Stabilization
  • 1 megapixel front-facing camera
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • WLAN IEEE 802.11 a/b/g/n
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 16 GB internal user memory
  • 128 GB expandable memory
  • Up to 14.8 hours of talk-time
  • Up to 22 days of stand-by time
  • 2200 mAh removable battery

Lumia 730 Selfie Smartphone Launched In India For INR 15,299

Last month, Microsoft announced its much-awaited selfie smartphone at the IFA 2014 in Berlin. Today, Microsoft finally launched the Lumia 730 in India. This device packs a Full-HD 5 megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera with a focal length of 24mm which allows you to take groupfies (group selfies).

Lumia 730 is a dual-SIM smartphone which runs on the Windows Phone 8.1 Operating System with the latest Lumia Denim update. It comes with a price-tag of INR 15,299 in India. This device will compete with the recently launched Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime and Sony Xperia C3 selfie smartphones in India. Lumia 730 will be available in Green, Orange, White and Dark Grey colors.

Lumia 730 Specifications:

  • 4.7 inch HD OLED display
  • 720 × 1280 pixels resolution
  • 1.2 GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor
  • Windows Phone 8.1 Operating system with Lumia Denim
  • 6.7 megapixel rear camera with LED flash
  • 5 megapixel wide-angle front-facing camera with Full HD video
  • 8 GB internal memory
  • 128 GB expandable memory
  • HERE location services
  • Free global HERE Maps
  • HERE Drive+Free
  • HERE Transit
  • 4G LTE Connectivity
  • 2220 mAh battery
  • Wireless charging compatible

Windows 10: The Next Version of Windows, Made for Any Device

At a small press gathering on September 30, Microsoft showed what is an early version of the next edition of Windows, and tricked everyone by calling it Windows 10 instead of the chronologically appropriate Windows 9.

As this event was catering to the enterprises, there was emphasis mostly on the features that will make existing Windows XP and Windows 7 customers not hesitate to move to the next version of Windows. Microsoft officials admitted that Windows 8, and even Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update are too different from Windows XP and Windows 7 and customers are staying away from upgrades because they will need a lot of training hours to train their users.

Along with revealing some of the key updates to Windows, and in a big departure from the past, Microsoft also announced that technically savvy users as well as IT Pros in enterprises can enroll in a Windows Insider program which will allow them to download the Windows 10 bits starting October 1. These Windows Insiders will then have access to the latest bits and will be able to provide feedback directly to Microsoft during the preview.

Windows 10’s consumer features will be discusses in early 2015, the developer story will be discussed at //Build, Microsoft’s developer conference, in April. The final version of Windows 10 is expected to be available later in 2015.

Let’s look at what was revealed in terms of Windows 10 at the event:

Start Menu

Perhaps one of the most wanted (and missing) features in Windows 8.x was the ever-familiar Start Menu. The Start Menu is back, but instead of simply being a Windows 7-style Start Menu, it is now going to have some Live Tiles next to the list of programs and folders. In addition, the Start Menu’s “shape” is customizable so if you desire a flatter and wider Start Menu, you can simply drag its boundaries and make it flat.

Windows 10 Start Menu
Windows 10 Start Menu

Search

The search functionality in the Start Menu is back, and in addition to searching for files and folders on the local PC, the feature will search the web too, just like the main search feature that exists in Windows 8.x today.

Windowed Metro Apps

Another very highly requested feature from non-touch device users and users with large screens is the ability to run Metro apps in their own windows instead of defaulting to full screen. Despite improvements in snap mode in Windows 8.1, it wasn’t enough and by making Metro apps work seamlessly in their own windows which can be resized without affecting the usability of the Metro apps, Microsoft is taking care of the power users.

Windows 10 Windowed Metro App
Windows 10 Windowed Metro App

Snap Assist

Windows 8’s Snap mode has made incremental improvements over time. With Windows 10, it gets even better so it will now be possible to snap up to 4 apps on one screen. The screen is now going to be divided into quadrants and each snapped app can occupy a quadrant or two. In addition, Snap Assist enables the best utilization of the screen real estate by snapping apps to appropriately fill the screen space.

Windows 10 Snap
Windows 10 Snap

Task View

A new button will be present on the Taskbar which will enable viewing open apps/applications as well as any virtual desktops in use.

Windows 10 Task View
Windows 10 Task View

Virtual Desktops

In Windows 10, one will be able to create multiple “desktops” much like Mac OS X and Linux, to isolate the work based on any organizational aspect like work vs home, projects, etc.

Windows 10 Virtual Desktops
Windows 10 Virtual Desktops

One Store, One App Model

Microsoft also said that with Windows 10, it won’t be truly “one operating system” but it will be one product family with a common app development model and a common store. This way, Windows 10 will be able to run on “things” (from the Internet of Things) to ruggedized embedded systems, to phones and phablets to tablets and 2-in-1 devices to PCs up to 85″ in screen size.

Continuum

In all this discussion about Start Menu and full-screen apps, the lines between a normal non-touch PC user and a tablet user are clearly drawn. However, what happens when someone uses a hybrid or 2-in-1 device like the Surface or one of the many detachable or convertible devices? In such situations, Windows 10 will invoke Continuum. This feature detects a touch screen usage and converts the use to a tablet use and if a keyboard or mouse is then detected, it prompts to switch to a PC use (and vice versa).

This is nicely demonstrated by Joe Belfiore in the video below (courtesy The Verge):

 

Here’s Joe Belfiore from the Windows team, walking through the new features:

And here’s a walkthrough of Windows 10 provided by Microsoft to Geekwire’s Blair Hanley Frank:

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