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What are Office 365 Groups and Why Should I Care?

What are Office 365 Groups and Why Should I Care?

10/15/2015

Office 2016 was released on September 22nd.  Did you know that this is the last major release of Office?  You read that right – Microsoft is moving away from releasing big upgrades every 3 years and moving to a more rapid form of development.  You can (and should) expect to receive new features and updates rapidly (like every month!).

If you manage, or are part of, a small team that shares files, notes, emails, or meetings – then Groups are for you! One of the features that has been part of Office 365 for a few months is Office 365 Groups.  Up to the release of Office 2016, Groups was only accessible in Outlook Web App.  Since most of us work in the Outlook Rich Client (the desktop version of Outlook) – very few of us  even noticed it.

Favorite Features

Here are our ‘stand out’ favorite features:

  • Conversations (these are really just emails) are stored in a threaded view in Groups. If you think about most project communications, aren’t they emails that live in your inbox?  What happens when you bring a new team member into the fold?  They don’t have access to the history of the communication.  Groups changes this – as the conversations are fully searchable and saved in the Conversations section.
  • You can choose to have Conversations show up in your inbox or only in the Conversations section. This is great for keeping your inbox clean.
  • Groups are self-service. This means you don’t have to involve IT to set up a group.
  • You don’t have to worry about permissions. Your notebooks, files, conversations, and calendars are all protected.

Office 2016 Groups

With the release of Outlook 2016, Groups is now available in Outlook on your desktop – not just through the web.  You can expect Microsoft to release iOS and Android apps for Groups soon (there is already a release for Windows Phone).

To access Groups in Outlook 2016, click “Groups” on the left ribbon (towards the bottom, under your other folders). See image to the right.

Groups can be public – so everyone in the organization can join and participate. Or they can be private – so that only those who are invited have access to the conversations, calendar, files, and notebook.

Give Office 365 Groups a try.  And, of course, if you have questions about Groups, please reach out to us!

   

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