Mobilizing the Enterprise

Thoughts on SharePoint, Smartphones, and the future of enterprise productivity

Archive for the ‘Microsoft’ Category

Automatic rendering of Microsoft Office documents as PDF on iPad

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Corporations often use Microsoft Office document formats but most iPad applications display these formats incorrectly.  If users were unaware, business decisions could be delayed or made without all the facts.

To see this first hand, here are some sample documents as viewed within email on an iPad compared to the same documents viewed within Coaxion.  This is a collection of slides in PowerPoint and pages in Word. The email display is on the left while Coaxion is on the right. The green exclamation mark was added to help surface the differences. You can click on any image to make it larger.

Even a casual examination of the documents shows how much easier it will be to hold paperless meetings using Coaxion over email - especially since you can forward your email with attachments to [email protected] for instant paperless meetings on Coaxion.

Some things that go missing include: Images, Headers, Footnotes, Charts, Axis, Watermarkers, and Formatting.  This means you will miss important data like your sales projections or key details on a contact.

Here are some sample pages when viewing native Office formats in email vs Coaxion. The green ! indicates missing graphics and incorrect formatting in the documents viewed before PDF conversion.

As viewed in email or a typical iPad PDF reader:    As viewed in Coaxion for iPad:

           

           

           

Written by daviddsouza

March 3, 2012 at 3:05 am

Microsoft Office Document editing with SharePoint, Box.Net, and DropBox

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Since the beginning, Coaxion has had superior integration with the Microsoft back office and document formats. Coaxion has the fastest, best looking, and easiest to use integration with SharePoint, in the cloud or on premise. Coaxion automatically converts Office documents to PDF so that you can read them with full fidelity - your annotations, charts, and graphs look great in Coaxion. And today we build upon that foundation with excellent Microsoft Office document editing on the iPad.

We partnered with QuickOffice to make it easy to edit and “save back” your Office documents into any of your enterprise storage repositories. We recognize departments optimize their storage service to the needs of the team and critical business documents are scattered across a variety of hosted and on-premise file repositories including SharePoint, Box, and Dropbox. One could use a combination of iPad applications to download and view these files but security, usability, and interoperability is lost in this process.  In one reliable, secure, and easy to use app, Coaxion Pro supports Office document editing and saving to SharePoint, Office 365, Box, or Dropbox.

Use our in app upgrade to get the “Pro” version of Coaxion and take advantage of easy document editing and save back capabilities with your favorite editors including QuickOffice and Documents to Go.  Today, editing of documents stored in “My Documents” is supported and you will be prompted to “save back” to Coaxion and “upload” to your corporate document server.

Within Coaxion, view a "My Documents" document in full screen mode and select "Open In". Select QuickOffice from the list to edit your document.

When done editing, tap "Close" in QuickOffice followed by "Save Back" and "Coaxion". This will save the document in Coaxion and switch to Coaxion. Coaxion will prompt you to update the documents in SharePoint, Box, or Dropbox.

Written by daviddsouza

January 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Microsoft’s Q2 2012 earnings - the Microsoft backoffice remains strong

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Once again Microsoft reported better than expected revenue pf $20.9 Billion in this quarter. The business division reported $6.28B in revenue, a 7% increase over prior periods excluding one-time revenue.  Revenue in SharePoint and Exchange grew by more than 10% and Lync and Dynamics CRM grew by 30%.  No new results were issued for Office365 beyond the current 5M+ seats and 100,000+ businesses sold in 3 months ending November 2011 and 22M education users (100% y/y increase).  All this reflects the continued strength of Microsoft’s technologies in the back office.

The PC market declined 2% to 4% reflecting a change in client computing from PC centric to mobile centric. This was especially apparent in the Consumer PC space which was down 6%.  Business PC purchases grew 2% suggesting businesses are continuing to refresh their PCs while they evaluate mobile devices.

Written by daviddsouza

January 19, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Microsoft Q4 FY 11 Earnings and the Enterprise

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Microsoft’s press release on their earnings is here.  A link to the recorded conference call is also available from that page.

Overall, sales were up 12% and net profit was up 23% on record $17.37B in revenue for the quarter. But once again, we’re interested in how Microsoft is doing in the enterprise productivity space.

Business Division quarterly revenue was up 7% over last year and yearly revenue was $22B, a 16% increase over last years stellar numbers.  All the business servers had double digit growth - 20% on average. Business purchases of Microsoft Office and Office Servers such as SharePoint, Lync, and Dynamics grew 27%. Office 365 is early, having released last month, but is doing well focused on the small and medium business but no specific numbers were announced.  For larger enterprises, Office365 represents an option for making external collaboration easier.

Multiyear enterprise commitments grew to $17.1B in deferred revenue - supporting the stickiness of enterprise commitment to Microsoft technologies.

Windows Server & Tools business grew 12% vs last year. Windows Server & System Center revenues grew 20%. SQL Server Premium revenue grew almost 20%.

Business PC growth was 8%. Windows 7 enterprise deployments increased 50% since March. 27% of enterprise desktops have Windows 7 and 90% committed to deploying it.

Overall, this data shows Microsoft remains a core part of every enterprise and they are extending their lead into small and medium businesses with their cloud services.

Written by daviddsouza

July 21, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Posted in earnings, Microsoft

Will Office 365 change Microsoft’s position in mobile?

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http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/news/software-technology/10338.html

One of Microsoft’s goals with Office 365, its new cloud-based office productivity suite, is to strengthen the company’s position in mobile, but it remains to be seen if the offer is compelling enough to attract new customers.

We’re thrilled Moprise was mentioned in this article.  But it also raises an interesting question - can Microsoft’s newest enterprise infrastructure drive adoption of Microsoft’s newest mobile devices?

Microsoft has a very focused “better together” strategy.  The “Office suite” was the first example of a set of productivity applications - Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook - working well together. Microsoft extended this with the Windows client, Office Suite, Windows Server, and even Windows Mobile/Phone. Customers were well served with leading edge PC technology by picking Microsoft as the default vendor. Things worked well together for users, IT was more consistent, and Microsoft even made licensing complementary technologies easier by checking a box at renewal time.

However, the mobile disruption is huge.  iPad, iPhone, and Android are leading this mobile revolution with mobile apps delivering new consumer scenarios with around entertainment, games, augmented reality, and location awareness.  Many of these scenarios were unimaginable on PCs.  Now these devices are flooding into the enterprise despite having significant friction points with enterprise infrastructure. In the near term, 3rd parties offer mobile apps that work with Microsoft Office formats, Dynamics CRM, SharePoint, or even remote into desktop PCs. But these are gap-fillers much like the first personal computers supported terminal emulators to connect to mainframes.

As phones & tablets increase in capability and versatility, we will re-imagine enterprise productivity with a mobile first perspective.  At first, these will be bite sized moments of productivity. Face scanning a crowd and getting lead & customer contact info on your phone in real time will be more valuable than desktop Outlook/CRM integration.  Real time push notifications of updates to documents, contracts, or sales closure will deliver more context and be immediately actionable instead of today’s email centric notifications that require filtering, multiple clicks, and browser login before action can be taken.  Background delivery of important documents and easy response mechanisms instead of VPN, browser login, download, view, switch to email & respond.   Real time team scheduling instead of high latency scheduling via email, SMS, and phone tag.

As we look forward, we believe mobility will change the way we work.  This will drive changes into IT infrastructure in a significant fashion.  Quite the opposite of Microsoft’s hope that IT infrastructure will change what mobile device we use.

Written by daviddsouza

June 29, 2011 at 4:10 am

Posted in iPad, Microsoft, Office365

Moprise Welcomes Office365

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We love Office365 and we’re excited to announce Moprise (SharePoint documents for iPad) & Coaxion (Business Documents & Discussions) have been upgraded to support Office 365.    As always, don’t hesitate to send us your feedback (feedback at moprise dot com).

Written by daviddsouza

June 27, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Office365

Office365 and iPad

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As mentioned in a previous post, we’re big fans of Microsoft’s hosted services.  But to really push the edge of mobile device productivity experiences, I wanted to evaluate Office365 on my iPad.  In general, I found Office365 has significant usability problem on touch tablets. Office365 starts with a user experience that is optimized for the fine precision of a mouse pointer and objects are too closely positioned for a finger sized touch experience.  There are some compatibility problems on iPad’s safari browser that together, make for a substandard iPad/Office365 experience.

Office365 is implemented using HTML/HTML5 which is commonly viewed as the gold standard for broad cross platform compatibility. However,  in this case, running is not the same as loving.  Native iPad experiences outshine web experiences for productivity scenarios. Office365 is in beta and we’re hoping the iPad experience will improve.

Productivity Scenarios

Generally, we’ve found three interesting tablet productivity scenarios for the enterprise:

1) Document consumption -  Accessing documents on Office365′s SharePoint server for personal viewing and sharing with co-workers.

2) Focused collaboration experiences - Exploiting opportunities for bite sized productivity events such as reviewing documents, annotating documents, and sharing or approving those results.  Email triage, replying to and authoring short email would also fall into this category.

3) Document creation and aggregation experiences - This is a complete productivity experience where documents are created, aggregated, and referenced across multiple  SharePoint stores, email threads, and people/aliases.

People should reasonably expect to do #1 and #2 on an iPad.  In the case of #3,  likely the iPad needs to be docked with a large screen, keyboard, and touch pad to deliver a rich PC-like experience. #3 doesn’t feel mainstream yet.

Web Office365 UX on iPad

With scenarios #1 and #2 in mind, I started using Office365 on my iPad by navigating to http://office365.com.  Luckily Office365 is mostly HTML based and use of plugins like Sliverlight are optional.  I enter Office365 by clicking on the top right corner to sign in.  Unfortunately the sign in link is surrounded by a number of hot spots including the browser bookmarks and links to Bing and other Microsoft sites. The yellow highlight gives you an idea of the size of a finger and its error zone with respect to the active hit areas on the screen.  This problem permeates Office365.

Sign In too close to bookmarks, search, and "All Microsoft Sites" links

The ribbon, appearing everywhere in Office365, offers a dense forest of icons that provide easy access to rich functionality on a laptop but is extremely frustrating to use with a finger on a tablet.  Frequent zooming in/out  to hit buttons on the ribbon is needed. Buttons to move to the next page in a Word document are adjacent to the “close document” button which makes advancing pages a multiple step process - zoom in, next page, zoom out.  Menus are hard to initially drop due to small size and once dropped, are too narrow to select items accurately. Rich help is provided by hovering the mouse over icons but this has no equivalent on a touch based system.  In some instances, controls surfacing new functionality emerge on laptops when you hover with a mouse but are frustratingly inaccessible on tablets.

"Next page" too close to "close document"

Word's ribbon is a tightly packed icon forest not usable with touch

Outlook's ribbon has many hit zones near the frequently used To: field

Menus are narrow with many adjacent hit zones accidentally hit by finger

SharePoint 2010's ribbon makes site navigation and document retrieval cumbersome

Team Site's densely packed UX in the top left with white space everywhere else

Beyond Touch UX

Other annoying user experience problems include:
1) Extensive use of tabs - Many clicks (login, navigating to outlook, navigating to sharepoint, opening a document) open a new tab in the browser. Tabs are slower to access and interrupt the work flow on tablets.  Once you exceed 9 tabs, iPad Safari reuses old ones which can make getting back to the launch point difficult or even impossible.

2) No interop with native apps or local storage  - iPad doesn’t have a local file system storage for browser apps. Documents cannot be downloaded within the Safari browser for use with native applications or to save for later offline use. Uploading from Dropbox into SharePoint also cannot be accomplished from the browser UX.  This would be a major limitation to users accustomed to iPad applications.

3) Silverlight - There are multiple prompts for Silverlight which get in the way of a clean tablet experience.

Download Silverlight (if you can)...

4) The entry level Office365 versions for Small Businesses don’t use encryption when transmitting documents to the SharePoint server.  This is documented in the “Plan for SSL” section of the linked document.  This means users with wireless iPads could have their file data intercepted when used at a coffee shop.  Microsoft seems to suggest this will be fixed in a future release but this is a significant limitation of the current product.  When Foursquare check-ins are encrypted for consumers, it is surprising Microsoft chose to not encrypt business documents transmitted to Office365′s Small Business SharePoint servers.

On the positive side, it is nice to have Microsoft blessed viewers for my Office document content.  Unlike the built in Apple viewers, annotations are visible, formatting is accurate, and embedded graphics show up properly.

Unfortunately, I was not able to annotate or edit any documents so those bite sized productivity moments are out of reach.  I could not position the text insertion cursor on a document’s body nor could I get the iPad’s soft keyboard to pop up to edit the document body.  Ribbon buttons which inserted tables and other symbols worked fine which seems to suggest there are some browser compatibility problems under the covers as opposed to editing being disabled.  I minimize this issue simply because Office365 is in beta and browser compatibility problems are generally fixable.

Conclusion

HTML/HTML5 is often looked to for broad cross platform compatibility.  But in this case, running is not the same as loving. In general, performing simple document consumption and basic document annotation and review scenarios with Office365 on a tablet seem very unpolished.  For Microsoft, there is a broader concern that when they come out with a Windows (touch) tablet, their existing Office applications and cloud services won’t have a compelling touch centric user experience.

If you would like a rich iPhone or iPad experience connecting to SharePoint in your office or in the cloud (Office365 or BPOS), you should try our latest application, Coaxion.  See our tour here. Coaxion is “Dropbox for the enterprise” and allows you to securely access and share corporate documents with private groups.

Written by daviddsouza

May 7, 2011 at 12:04 am

Posted in iPad, Microsoft

Microsoft’s FY11 Q3 Earnings

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Microsoft announced blow out FY11 Q3 earnings.  There are two key themes emerging with respect to enterprise productivity:

1) The movement to include phones and tablets at the center of personal productivity and

2) The continued momentum with enterprise infrastructure on Microsoft services and cloud offerings.

At Moprise, we see a real opportunity to leverage the exponential growth in the demand for mobile productivity with the linear adoption curves of IT infrastructure.

The specific quotes from the earnings report are below.

“We delivered strong financial results despite a mixed PC environment, which demonstrates the strength and breadth of our businesses,” said Peter Klein, chief financial officer at Microsoft.

Revenue in Microsoft’s Windows division fell 4 percent, slightly worse than the fall-off in PC shipments tracked by the research firm IDC.

Microsoft Business Division revenue grew 21% year-over-year. Since its release last spring, Office 2010 has become the fastest-selling version of Office in history, and the integrated innovation with SharePoint, Exchange, Lync and Dynamics CRM is driving significant growth for the division.

“We delivered strong third quarter revenue from our business customers, driven by outstanding performance from Windows Server, SQL database, SharePoint, Exchange, Lync and increasingly our cloud services,” said Kevin Turner, chief operating officer at Microsoft. “Office had another huge quarter, again exceeding everyone’s expectations, and the addition of Office 365 will make our cloud productivity solutions even more compelling. We continue to see strong adoption of our cloud-based services among the Fortune 500.”

Written by daviddsouza

April 28, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Posted in earnings, Microsoft

iOS 4.3.1 and Apple in the Enterprise

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iOS 4.3.1 was released today.  At Moprise, we couldn’t be happier.  I installed it on my iPad and iPhone and the NTLM fixes worked great. Once again, authentication with Windows Servers from Safari and native applications worked like a charm and our SharePoint for iPad and SharePoint for iPhone applications worked properly again.

Security and authentication are incredibly critical and fragile areas and we’re incredibly impressed with how quickly Apple identified and fixed this problem.   Nothing is perfect but the goal needs to be intelligent triage and quick iteration with fixes.  From the enterprise perspective, Apple nailed both.

Having worked on Microsoft Windows (2.10, 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, 95, 98, NT, XP, & Vista) for years, I know first hand the agony of triaging the final 5 fixes from all the possible bugs that should be fixed in a .1 release. One year of testing occurs on an operating system before it is released. During that year, we’ve discovered bugs that were introduced two or more years ago and were never hit before. Once you release, every bug fixed in an update could seriously undo years of development and testing.  Picking the final 5 bugs that are worthy of fixing and risking regressions is a true art and more than anything else, telegraphs a company’s priorities.

Apple is often pegged as a consumer company but even within the limited development budget of a .1 release, they fixed a core enterprise bug around NTLM authentication.

Is Apple gunning for the enterprise? I think so. In a big way.

Written by daviddsouza

March 25, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Posted in history, iPad, Microsoft

Moprise for iPad Featured by Apple in [email protected]: Apps for Business

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We’re the app with the bright orange icon: Moprise: SharePoint Documents for iPad.  Thanks Apple!  We’re really thrilled to be in such company!

Written by daviddsouza

March 23, 2011 at 3:49 am

Posted in iPad, Microsoft, SharePoint

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