Microsoft pushes Fluid to increase productivity in Teams, Outlook and OneNote
Microsoft will extend the use of its Fluid components to a wider range of productivity and collaboration tools, including Outlook, OneNote, and Whiteboard, as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to change the way people interact with documents.
Fluid components – advertised by Microsoft as “atomic units of productivity” when they launched two years ago – are small applications such as tables, charts, and lists that can be inserted into various Microsoft 365 tools and upgraded. day by multiple users in real time. .
Although the feature rollout has been slow, Microsoft in May announced plans to introduce the components to the chat function in Teams. In line with these plans, unveiled last week, Fluid components will be extended to Teams meetings, as well as Outlook, OneNote, and Whiteboard apps. The overall objective: to improve meetings for users.
Emphasis is placed on creating relevant ‘components’ for meetings, such as a shared agenda, with talking points automatically added to a dedicated OneNote page and simultaneously made accessible from email and calendars. Outlook. Notes and tasks assigned in Teams during a meeting can also be synced to OneNote so everyone can see them.
“These Fluid components ensure that meeting attendees have a clear view of what has been covered and how to proceed,” Marissa Salazar, senior product marketing manager at Microsoft, said in a briefing.
Microsoft will launch a private preview of Fluid components in Outlook, OneNote, and Whiteboard this fall, with wider availability expected “early next year,” a spokesperson said. The feature will be available only to commercial Microsoft 365 customers. Meanwhile, Fluid components in Teams Chat is currently in private preview and with a full release in August.
The introduction of Fluid components into Microsoft’s collaboration and productivity applications is tantamount to a shift in focus from individual files to a more flexible and collaborative approach to documents within Microsoft 365.
“One of the big criticisms of Microsoft with Office 365 is that it just took the office apps from Word, Excel, etc. and recreated them in the cloud; it didn’t really do much to change or modernize the way people worked except that you now access applications in the cloud, ”said Angela Ashenden, senior analyst at CCS Insight.
“Fluid components are more of a step forward in changing the way we think about content, recognizing that while documents have their place, not everything has to be a document in itself,” she said.
Microsoft is not alone in seeking to better connect collaboration and productivity applications. Rival Google introduced its smart web “building blocks” last month; it’s a similar concept that links information between Workspace apps like Docs and Sheets with simple polls and checklists updated simultaneously across all apps. Startups such as Coda, Airtable and Quip are also taking similar steps.
As the market leader Microsoft has an advantage, “so if it is successful it has a user base to build on,” Ashenden said.
Other changes announced last week included many updates to the Microsoft Whiteboard app slated for release this summer, including a new user interface, improved “inking” using mouse input, and the addition of features like “collaboration sliders” to show what coworkers are doing when they collaborate and a “laser pointer” to highlight information for colleagues.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.