New Office features for the cloud unveiled: Office Graph, Clutter, and Groups

New Office features for the cloud unvelied. Introducing Office Graph, Clutter and Groups

This week, Microsoft revealed new Office features at the TechEd 2014 conference in Houston. Microsoft showed off new capabilities which included security and privacy improvements of its enterprise-grade Office 365 platform. However, some of the features of the software suite will not become available to consumers who fail to adopt the cloud future. Everyone who attended the conference were shown a demo of Office Graph. It's a feature that maps the relationship between people and information.

"By leveraging insights from Office 365 and mapping the relationships between people, groups, files and conversations through machine learning, we can intelligently connect and surface the most relevant content using the Office Graph. This is the power of social, cloud, big data, and machine learning coming together. Office Graph will power many new personalized and contextual experiences for people using Office 365," said Jeff Teper, the Corporate Vice President of Office Service and Servers group.

"So when I talked about Office Graph and that intelligence fabric, essentially that's just possible because of massive compute power [in the Cloud]. It's because we can update the service with learning every single day that that's possible," Julia White, head of Office technical marketing for Microsoft said while demonstrating Office Graph.

White also mentioned that sorting requires machine learning and would need massive CPU power available only in the Office 365 Cloud.

Another feature that White talked about was Clutter. Clutter analyzes information coming in via email. It gives high priority to information that has more activity. For example, any information that gets more response/activity (if it's being read, replied to) will get higher relevance compared to information that was simply received. Any other information that has no activity will be dropped in a Clutter folder after a period of time.

"The machine learning aspect is too compute intensive to include on a server version of Office" White said. Clutter is scheduled to come out later this year.

White also demonstrated another feature called Groups. It gives users the ability to set up groups where they can share information while working on projects. That information can also be distributed or shared using Yammer, Outlook, Lync and SharePoint. "We'll ship Groups in our server technology, but the magic of groups and when it becomes most useful for the businesses is when you have that across [all the communication servers] you're using," White mentioned.

Other features also will be delayed for Office Server customers. "Some of that means it's coming first to Office 365 and you'll see it come to SharePoint and Lync and Office on-premises later but some of it is just not possible in an on-premises approach," she says. It's not capricious favoritism toward Office 365 customers, White says.

Microsoft has also re-launched its Office 365 Trust Center information portal. Users will be provided with insights into how the Office 365 service is designed and operated. The portal also features white papers, a blog and video series called From Inside the Cloud.