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All posts tagged Office

Regression Testing…

I recently discovered that some team members needed a basic run through of the ideas behind this. With this in mind I used the incredible new Office web application, Sway to create a presentation that I could use to get across the basics.

Sidebar: Sway

Sway is available to anyone with a Microsoft account (which also means you have free Outlook.com OneDrive and Office.com) it comes with a strong Warptest recommendation.

This is not Powerpoint online (again you can find that in Office.com) it is clearly still in beta but allows the creation of simple, elegant presentations that can be shared or embedded.

Sway - regression testing 101

If you don’t know about the free, yes FREE version of Office.com then check it out ASAP.

Regression Testing 101

The Sway presentation works better with the accompanying talk but the core ideas behind the Regression Testing 101 talk are:

CIR- regression testing 101

 

The Warptest POV

After running through two sessions on regression testing the issue is refreshed in my mind and clear to the testers who needed the extra information.

Sway makes for an easy to use tool for creating elegant visual presentations online.

Clearly the benefits of creating presentations and training talks are two-fold: for the person giving and receiving the information.

 

Office Clip Art Is Being Retired In Favor Of Bing Image Search

Longtime users of Office will be familiar with all the iterations of the Office ClipArt library and the numerous times they were able to easily add images to documents, presentations and or blog posts.

Bye Bye - Office Clip Art

With thanks to Facebook Message Stickers for the above image

Users have had the option of searching for and using images from Bing’s Image Search but only last week Microsoft announced the end of Office Clip Art.

Office Blog - Office Clip Art

Screen capture courtesy of the Microsoft Office Blog

Where Do We Go From Here?

Users will now be able to search and use Bing Image Search exclusively and will have to rapidly come to grips with the Creative Commons, understanding the different licenses and appropriate uses for images that Bing provides. At the end of the Office blog post, the author provides a link explaining the subject of copyright and fair use.

Office Clip Art - Creative Commons

Screen capture courtesy of the Creative Commons website

That said the Bing Image Search will allow users to select the license that best suits their needs, filtering out images that do not match this criteria.

The Warptest POV

Progress is a good thing but better than progress are the user having choices. The reasons for eliminating the Office Clip Art gallery escape me and as someone prone to using clip art in my posts I’m sorry to see this resource vanish.

One comment that seemed to repeat is the feeling that the Office Clip Art gallery was a paid for resource bundled with Office and as such these images could be used without fear or prejudice of running afoul of Creative Commons licensing issues; now the onus is on the user and I’m unsure why Microsoft would retire a resource that their competitors didn’t have.

If the first rule is do no harm, then surely the next rule is do nothing to sow confusion amongst your consumers.

Update: If you own Office 2010 or earlier then you can go to the Install / Uninstall and select Change > then add the Clip Art to run locally. This will download the gallery to your hard drive (In the case of Office 2010 to C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\CLIPART). However, if you have office 365 then this option is not present from what I can see.

Right now I’m waiting for an answer from Microsoft Support if there is a way to download the Office Clip Art gallery to my hard drive but failing that I will have to get creative and either: –

  1. Use stickers from apps like Facebook Messenger or Skype in lieu of Clip Art.
  2. Improve on my sketching abilities and create my own, by-hand Clip Art.
  3. Ensure I completely understand Creative Commons.

I don’t know about you, but this is one resource I am going to miss. In the event that I get an answer on downloading the Office Clip Art gallery, you can be sure I’ll share the solution in another post.

Microsoft Launched Office Mix This Week…

First as a by-invite preview and then opened it shortly after as a customer preview in beta.

What does Office Mix do you ask? Well those busy boffins on the Office team clearly have joined the party at Microsoft and went out to the punters (consumers) to ask what they were missing from PowerPoint.

In this case, one of the main demographics approached were educators, who wanted better ways of making their teaching presentations come to life.

The underlying idea behind Mix is to enable the creation of rich, interactive online lessons… all from within PowerPoint.

I Know What You’re Thinking

I can see the face some of you less enlightened folks are making about PowerPoint but as I said back in April 2010, PowerPoint is wrongfully maligned; bad workmen… tools, say no more,

Actually, if you know how to use PowerPoint you can get great results and Office Mix will help.

Instead of going outside PowerPoint you can do all this without other 3rd Party Tools: –

Office Mix - feature list

Office Mix - toolbar

The Warptest POV

If you are anything like me then you appreciate that this incredible feature-set isn’t limited to educators, the uses cases are restricted only by your creative imagination.

Office Mix allows you to create and edit these interactive presentations all within PowerPoint thus making several 3rd Party tools redundant.

In addition, being an early adopter allows you to make and share these Mixes online by logging in with either a Microsoft account, Microsoft organizational account, Google or Facebook account.

Needless to say I’m impressed at the variety of login options. But if your audience doesn’t want to login then just convert to video and share from your OneDrive, DropBox etc.

In a nutshell I’m going to say that Office Mix gets a strong recommendation from Warptest. This add-on is going to add more power to your PowerPoints.

If you are in the business of presentations and want to bring your A-Game then this is for you. This is the best way to create and share interactive presentations on virtually any internet connected device.

As of now I’ve had two requests to demo Office Mix in person this week. So, what are you waiting for? Get Mixing.

Office Online Arrives Close On The Heels Of OneDrive…

The reimagining of Office Web Apps as Office Online addresses a combination of UX and exposure challenges for Office Web.

Previously, when I informed people that SkyDrive had free Web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote I was greeted with a combination of amazement and skepticism.

After demonstrating or directing them to the Apps, by and large these sentiments were replaced with glee at having their familiar, albeit limited feature Office for FREE.

Refocusing and Reinventing Productivity

This is not just simple rebranding. By creating Office.com as the access-point for Office Online it has made the process, well Office-centric.

Office Online Reinvented

Prior to this Office Web Apps were dismayingly concealed behind the Create menu button in SkyDrive.

Most users simply didn’t realize that all their productivity was hidden behind that simple button.

Refocusing from SkyDrive, excuse me OneDrive to Office.com shifts the focus and user perception that OneDrive is incredibly valuable as your cloud storage but it is one of several powerful parts of Office Online.

The Unified Field Theory Of Productivity

It’s important to note that all you need to get started is a Microsoft account. If you notice the image above of the homepage of Office.com, in addition to the aforementioned Office Web Apps the user also has access to their Outlook.com, OneDrive, People and Calendar and all with the New Windows UI of Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.

This is not just a shift in focus or rebranding, Office Online is a comprehensive, FREE productivity ecosystem that parallels Office 365/2013.

This is not all though, Microsoft’s Office Online team have added new features (for the launch and recently): –

  • Once in any of the Office Apps the user can access the App Switcher by hitting the arrow button to the right of the App name (top left) and selecting the App to switch to.

Office Online - App Switcher

App Switcher - Office Online

  • Real Time Co-authoring: work with your co-workers or anyone, anywhere as long as they are in Office.
  • Templates:
    the difference between a good document and a great document can be using a template and there are free templates available and easily accessible whenever you create a new Office Online document.

The Warptest POV

Office Online combined with OneDrive mean that Microsoft understand their consumers. Most home users don’t need or ever use more than the basic features of Office. Did I mention the word FREE?

Add to the mix the pending penetration of other mobile platforms by Office and the ability to switch from using Office Online to Office on your computer when needed and you have a winning productivity solution whose UX makes you want to be both collaborative and productive.

I’m going to give Office Online a strong recommendation and suggest that if you haven’t tried it recently or never then get signed in and take it for a spin. You will be wowed.

Who’s ready to make productivity awesome again?

Welcome to OneDrive

Today marked the rollout of the rebranded OneDrive (the cloud storage formerly known as SkyDrive) across devices for web, desktop and mobile.

Today is about 1 year since the official launch of Outlook.com the outstanding Microsoft web-mail replacement for Hotmail.

SkyDrive was around to see Hotmail evolve, to see the end of Windows Live services (as a distinct entity) and to integrate fully with Outlook.com

5 Things You Might Not Know About OneDrive

  • OneDrive is about as ubiquitous cross-device / cross platform / cross-browser as you can get for personal, shareable cloud storage. I’m using it through the browser, the Windows 8.1 app and on Windows Phone 8 (which updated today to OneDrive). (As of now the SkyDrive folder in Windows 8.1 File Explorer and the Metro / New Windows UI App have not updated to OneDrive)
  • When you sign-up, as a new user you get 7Gb of free storage but Microsoft is giving existing users extra free space all the time (I have 48Gb now) and when I went into SkyDrive today as it became OneDrive I was greeted with this two-fold offer:

OneDrive rebrand wizard

  • OneDrive includes Office Web Apps. Yes FREE Office. This is obviously not full-featured Office Professional but if like most people you barely scratch the surface in Word, Excel, PowerPoint or OneNote then this is for you. Especially if you work with others on the shared documents then productivity and collaboration will become your new buzzwords. If you do have Office 365 / 2013 then you will see the integration at folder level in the main File menu.

OneDrive Main Menu

  • Apps: yes there are Apps that work (again cross device / platform) on OneDrive and the ambitious Developers amongst you can find the API here.
  • OneDrive differentiates between documents and photos but stores and allows sharing of both.

The Warptest POV

With a matching flat UI/UX to Windows 8.1 and elegant, ease of use I can strongly recommend to anyone looking to either move or backup to personal cloud storage that they sign-up for OneDrive.

The team working on this seem to understand the need for rapid iteration of robust, user friendly new features and I can recall maybe one occasion where server issues prevented access to my files. This compares very favorably to other services I have used who seem to suffer more frequent outages.

I’m giving OneDrive a strong recommend and if you aren’t using a cloud service for backup/sync or primary storage then you should seriously consider this as one of your choices.

Microsoft Have Had An Interesting Year:

2013 Has seen a variety of ups and downs for Microsoft but where is it taking us?

Microsoft Logo

Here are a few things we saw in 2013 from Redmond: –

  • Windows Phone demonstrated the sharpest adoption rate of smartphone platforms.
  • Microsoft buys Nokia.
  • Many of the major apps missing from Windows Phone decided to rectify this situation delivering Vine, Instagram, Waze to name a few.
  • A group of lawyers decided to offer a class action suit to shareholders based on misreported costs of Surface RT sales.
  • CEO Steve Ballmer announces his vision for One Microsoft.
  • CEO Steve Ballmer announces his retirement.
  • Microsoft delivers Windows 8.1 with stronger Bing integration, an astoundingly fast Internet Explorer 11 and the return of a Start Button.
  • Nokia delivers a variety of innovative devices including the game-changing Nokia Lumia 1020 with its 41 mega-pixel camera.
  • Nokia also gave us the 6″ Lumia 1520 Windows Phone with its dazzling 1080p HD display and the Lumia 2520 10.1″ 4G Windows 8.1 RT Tablet.
  • Microsoft delivered the Surface 2 and Surface Pro 2 whilst other Windows tablets began arriving from various OEMs.
  • Microsoft announced and launched the Xbox One and managed to clarify much of the confusion around the existing Xbox games.
  • Bing delivered a huge revamp and a rethinking of the concepts of discovery and context / relevancy of content.
  • Rumors began to arise regarding Project Cortana as Microsoft’s answer to Siri and more.
  • December gave us a 13 year high for Microsoft stock.
  • Office announced the much anticipated versions for iOS and Android including a separate One Note App.
  • Microsoft FUSE Research Labs boldly gave us full cross-platform mobile Apps for Socl after meshing it with some marvelous content creation apps and the KODU Game Creation Platform.
  • Developers received Visual Studio 2013 (and online) and the awesome TFS (Application Lifecycle Management suite) incorporated Git amongst other new features.

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Is It All Sunshine And Roses?

No it’s not. Steve Ballmer’s retirement was not seen as positive by everyone, meanwhile there was the aforementioned class action suit and no CEO replacement has been found yet. Microsoft can also be justifiably criticized for not iterating fast enough and continuing to miss opportunities but that said we saw a  greater willingness to listen to consumers and a strong desire to deliver improved products faster. Things are moving in the right direction.

 Steve Ballmer

As a Windows Phone and Windows 8.1 laptop user I have been testing the Windows Store and have discussed some of my early findings with other users. We are in concurrence that there is a need to fix several issues that detract from the Store (I will dedicate a post to this hopefully in January 2014 when I can tie all my research together).

Windows Store - Microsoft

The Warptest POV

With the anticipated Windows Phone 8.1 update and its expected foray into enterprise it is reasonable to expect that Windows Phone will continue to encroach into the market share of other platforms. With the end of life for Windows XP / Office 2003 and more OEM’s releasing a variety of Windows 8x tablets, touchscreen laptops and hybrid devices things are promising.

The biggest challenge Microsoft continues to face is evangelizing to Startups so that Windows Phone and Windows 8 are not the last platforms they develop their Apps for.

The huge strategic advantage they have is that in acquiring Nokia’s Mobile business, patents and mapping, Microsoft bought a company with a strong culture of building communities with phone developers and with experience creating the Ovi (Nokia App) Store and making it work well.

The big question is who will Microsoft’s next CEO be and how will they perceive and address the challenges facing the company whilst building on the momentum of 2013?

Personally, I have high expectations of Microsoft in 2014. How about you?

Windows Phone for Business

Windows Phone Announcements Got Lost…

…amongst the hullabaloo of Steve Ballmer’s One Microsoft corporate realignment memo and the launch (and ramifications) of the Nokia Lumia 1020.

Repeat after me, “Opportunity!”

What Makes a Windows Phone A Business Phone?

After reading the live feed from the Nokia Lumia 1020 launch I ended up asking myself:

If I was the Product Manager for Windows Phone Business what would my feature list be?

This is what I came up with:

Windows Phone - Mindmap

Firstly, excuse the handwriting. Some of the list fell by the wayside for a variety of reasons. As I wrote this my “requirements” were refined by focusing on the use cases: –

  1. Security: out of the box this phone needs to ensure that it isn’t the weakest link in accessing company data.
  2. Active Directory: a’ la Windows 8 “login” should have the option of using the user’s Windows Account login and password. Once you’re in the phone is connected to the company Active Directory.
  3. Remote Desktop: for the serious road warrior the phone has to have built in VPN and Remote Desktop / Remote Control.
  4. Exchange: this can’t just be OWA. Exchange needs to be a robust app with little in the way of functional compromise. The People and Calendar Live Tiles should reflect connection to the user’s Exchange account.
  5. Real Time / Social: Skype should be the Skype Business version with video conference calling and Yammer. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter should be freely available for the user.
  6. Apps: Should the user be able to download any Apps to their business phone? This should be an option for Company CIO’s to choose as policy but more important the company should be able to manage their own in-house App Store with preferred Apps available to enhance employee productivity on the phone.
  7. SharePoint: If you have a Windows Phone (even 7) you have Office and this already allows connectivity to SharePoint.
  8. CRM: Think business, think Dynamics. So yes, Dynamics integration with the People Live Tile, Exchange and Calendar or an App that ties it all together on the phone.
  9. Print to any Company / WiFi printer: self-explanatory.

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The Warptest POV

The biggest challenge is going to be providing businesses with ROI for choosing Windows Phone but more specifically ensuring that just because the Phone is connected to the Company domain that the user can still maintain and access their personal profile without compromise. What’s best practice here? I wrangled with the idea, “It’s Windows (Phone) so just like on a PC make it easy to switch users and thus personal / corporate profile, data and Apps”. I’m still conflicted about the best way to do this; case in point:

The Windows Phone update that will provide these features will contain features that are not business exclusive too. Some users are not going to want the bloat of the business features so Microsoft pay attention here, make the update granular enough to allow existing users to select whether to add the business features or not.

I’ll say it one more time for the boffins at Redmond. This is a huge opportunity to seize a market share not fought over since the advent of Blackberry as the business phone.

Keep listening to your business users about what they need from their Smartphones and make it happen.

What features would make you choose Windows Phone over the competition for your business?

Microsoft Office Continues…

It’s Plan For Global Domination. Well at least on Smartphones and Tablets with the addition of a version of One Note for iOS and Android. (there will be two versions for iOS: one for iPhone and one for iPad). At this time Google Play Store has 1 million+ downloads but installation is region blocked in Israel (and presumably other countries too.. what’s that about Google / Microsoft?)

Microsoft Office One Note Android

It seems that the boffins at Microsoft Office are going for a gradual and surreptitious takeover along the lines of the prediction at Warptest a while back.

Yes Redmond Aren’t the Only Show In Town

Microsoft Office One Note

If it’s only a productivity Notes App then look no further than Evernote for competition but for the whole kit and caboodle if you want to compete with Microsoft Office then for now it’s only really Google Apps. Apple I’m afraid you got some catching up to do

The Warptest POV

IMHO the organic argument holds some water here i.e. Google Apps on an Android phone or tablet, Microsoft Office on a Windows Phone (or tablet) until you remember (as I’ve mentioned in the past) that for the business user it is all about the backend. So pay attention, if your workplace has Windows servers or uses Azure then expect to be encouraged by your CIO to make the jump over to Microsoft Office.

Microsoft Office OneNote Meme

If this is an issue for you then get in touch and I’ll help ease your transition.

Microsoft and Office 2013 is overflowing with Mojo…

If you haven’t already downloaded the Consumer Preview for Office 2013 then you should. ASAP.

Austin Powers. Dr Evil explains “Mojo” courtesy of TheVegasDealer

In a year of huge news for Redmond with Windows 8, Windows 8 Phone, The Surface and more. Microsoft has done something to rebrand themselves as the up and coming, don’t count us out company for 2012 and in the words of Austin Powers and Doctor Evil they have mojo.

What hasn’t Been Said?

About the only thing in the blogosphere that may have stolen some of the Office preview’s thunder is Marissa Meyer of Google being appointed CEO of Yahoo. BTW Congratulations again Marissa.

Not to digress but in the 24 hours since the preview went live just about every tech blogger and others have given their spin on it.

The Warptest Perspective

Microsoft have adhered to their Metro UI design ethic with Office 2013 making a sexier, more seductive Office than ever before.

We have taken to classifying this kind of software as productivity suites but the sad truth is that often the UX and clutter make for an unproductive work environment. I’m here to tell you that in Office 2013 you just want to be productive.

A lot of trouble has gone to make the user feel comfortable using this and I find it hard to believe that other Operating System users aren’t looking just a little bit enviously right now at this. (Yes, I do mean you. Yes you.)

Surprised? I was to see rumors of good old Access DB’s demise were completely untrue. Access is alive, kicking and when you run it the first template you are offered is to create a custom web app. Welcome to 2012 Access!

MS Access 2013

frontpage of Access 2013

Outlook: still the powerhouse but this was the one place where I felt the UX was a bit claustrophobic and could have been minimalized a bit. Setup was easy and the mail notification sound and popups are not too intrusive.

Cloudy with a chance of Thuderstorms … over Europe.

Microsoft goes full throttle with Office 2013 into the cloud. Apparently when you get Office you get 100Gb of Skydrive storage in the bundle. Skydrive is the default save location here and so it should be but I was a bit surprised when I hit the Add A Place tile that the only services Microsoft chose to support are Skydrive or Office 365 (Sharepoint).

MS Word 2013

Save As Add Services

One would assume that Redmond had learnt from the antitrust cases that the European Union had hit them with over Windows and Internet Explorer but apparently not. My suggestion is add support for Dropbox, Box and even “add your own custom storage URL” or dare I say it go old school with FTP.

In a Nutshell

My hat is off and tipped to the Office Team who have outdone themselves in making productivity sexy again and turning Office into possibly the most appealing piece of software you are going to want to buy next year.

powerpoint

PowerPoint, love it or hate it?

Perhaps I should simply ask you if you Like it?

Powerpoint 2007

PowerPoint is once again the recipient of blame, angst and dislike. Even the New York Times decided to jump in quoting the US Military’s PowerPoint woes:

 nytlogo152x23

nyt-ppt

I’m one of those people who thinks that Microsoft PowerPoint gets a bad rap.

The Horror, The Horror…

I have some painful personal experience as a Support / Implementation Engineer where one of the people I was working with comes to me one day in a panic that he has to do a presentation to the Regional VP about his project and he needs my help to do the PowerPoint.

Besides this guy having control issues, he subsequently laid out how he had 60-100 slides comprising: –

  • Text: he wanted his word for word verbal presentation to be the text.
  • Scans of newspaper articles.
  • Embedded AutoCAD drawings and maps.
  • An average of 4 digital photographs per slide.

Then his cherry on the icing on the cake was he wanted music and animations for each slide.

I wasn’t even sure that the PCs we had could handle opening a file like that and he explained to me that he had to impress the VP or the project would be cancelled. The poor guy was a total wreck and insisted he had to have it that way. I managed to convince him that perhaps we could resize the photos but he didn’t want to reduce any of the content.

My job was basically to offer technical help not to provide suggestions so I wasn’t in a position here to do more than I was asked.

The one question I should have asked, that would have changed everything was,

How long has the VP allocated for your presentation?”

Your presentation’s length should be a function of the time you are allocated.

This isn’t a license to finagle and connive extra time or set a meeting for longer.

Unless you have discovered Cold Fusion or a cure for one of the major diseases how long do you really think people are going to maintain attention?

The Warptest POV

My theory is two-fold when it comes to PowerPoint:

  1. Pay attention to all the people out there who tell you 10 slides no more, use an elegant template, don’t try to overload me with PowerPoint bling (yes minimal use of animations etc.) and no you don’t want the text to be verbatim what you are saying.
  2. PowerPoint presentations should be your prop. You are the presentation.

The trick is passion, engagement and perhaps a sense of humor. I am as nervous of public speaking as the next guy but get me talking about something I know, love and believe in and I can engage you.

I won’t use PowerPoint to obscure the message, I want you to pay attention to me (what an egomaniac huh!) actually I want you to pay attention to the message of my Presentation because basically I am trying to sell an idea or concept.

View this as an elevator pitch with images and minimal text.

An idea I touted this week with one of my favorite Tweeps (Twitter-people) @testingqa was the following:

ppt-tweet - powerpoint

A la Twitter and it’s 140 character per tweet cap, perhaps what PowerPoint needs is a proportional limit.

The truth is that PowerPoint seems to be exception to the rule we grow up with, that:

A bad workman blames his tools”

Microsoft Office is a productivity suite and PowerPoint is no exception. Remember, keyword = productivity. To this end Microsoft offers us a wealth of resources: –

  • Training – PowerPoint is like any other tool, you need to know how to use it.
  • Templates – there are some fantastic templates that can make the difference between memorably eye-catching or not. These are nicely divided up by category/ purpose.

.. and much, much more.

So let’s stop indulging in blaming our tools and props. Remember the point is:

You are the presentation, PowerPoint is the prop.