Microsoft is adding improved support for its new Surface Pro and Pen, plus more flexibility in accessing Office 365's online storage.
Alongside the announcement of the new Surface Pro and Surface Pen, Microsoft revealed more Ink features are coming to Office 365 that will be available first to users of these devices – along with other features that will be more generally applicable.
‘Ink’ is the pen computing capability Microsoft has built into Windows 10 and other applications and devices – and the company has been steadily adding Ink features to those products.
The new Surface Pen, for example, detects 4096 levels of pressure, and recognises when it is being held at different angles. Furthermore, the latency between a pen action and its appearance on the screen has been reduced to "almost zero."
Office 365 subscribers will gain automatic access to these features when writing or drawing with the new Surface Pro and Pen.
Another set of Ink options are scheduled for the June Office 365 update for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. They include pencil texture and ink effects such as rainbow, galaxy, lava, ocean, gold, and silver. Several of these options are already available to Office 365 subscribers in OneNote for Windows 10.
The same update will deliver a "digital pencil case" – a customisable gallery of pens, pencils and highlighters available initially across applications and later in the year across devices.
Microsoft also revealed additional inking capabilities planned for the Whiteboard app that will be available this year on a wider range of devices – it's currently in private beta, exclusively on the Surface Hub large-screen device.
Features include collaborative inking, geometry recognition, table conversion and automatic table shading. Some Whiteboard capabilities will be available only to Office 365 subscribers.
OneDrive Files On-Demand
But it's not all about ink. As we previously revealed, the next Windows 10 update (Windows 10 Fall Creators Update) will feature OneDrive Files On-Demand, which will allow you to access all your work and personal files in the cloud without having to download them to your device and use up storage space. (Dropbox's Smart Sync feature already provides a similar capability.) All your files are visible in File Explorer and available whenever you need them, as long as you have an internet connection.
This feature is potentially a lot more useful with Office 365, which includes 1TB of online storage per user, compared to the 5GB for a free OneDrive account.
Another new OneDrive feature is a unified mechanism for sharing files or folders from Windows' File Explorer and macOS's Finder.
The items themselves are shared with people within the organisation, while outsiders receive links to them. This capability will be rolled out to consumers and Office 365 commercial customers during June and July.
In other enhancements, the new Office 365 adoption content pack in Power BI (initially in public preview) lets administrators visualise and analyse their organisation’s Office 365 usage data, to better understand how the applications are being used, enabling more targeted end user training and communication.
SharePoint communication sites are meant for sharing resources, news and information across an organisation rather than within workgroups. They are mobile-ready, and include Yammer integration. They will be available in June to Office 365 commercial customers on the First Release track.
Starting in the next few months, Office 365 commercial customers will be able to use PowerApps (Microsoft's application builder) within SharePoint, allowing users to create, view and interact with data without being restricted to the default SharePoint forms.