Microsoft Outlook, Office On iOS & Android: First Look - InformationWeek

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Software // Productivity/Collaboration Apps
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1/30/2015
03:06 PM
Kelly Sheridan
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Microsoft Outlook, Office On iOS & Android: First Look

Microsoft has released Office for Android tablets and Outlook capabilities for iOS and Android devices. Here's a closer look.
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(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

Earlier this week, Microsoft unveiled a number of updates to its mobile productivity apps. The new version of Office for Android tablets exited its three-month preview period on Jan. 29, the same day that Outlook apps for iOS and Android were released in full and preview versions, respectively.

Its latest announcements indicate that Microsoft is dedicating extensive effort towards boosting productivity before, during and after typical workday hours. Rather than sorting through emails during their commute and leaving the more complicated tasks to their PCs, professionals can schedule meetings and attach files on the go.

Both Android and iOS users had the opportunity to download a new version of Outlook. The app was released in full for iPhone and iPad. A preview is available to Android users, presumably because it still needs to undergo further testing.

The new Outlook is designed with new features that allow users to easily prioritize, delete and respond to emails. The updated calendar simplifies the process of finding time to coordinate meetings, interacting with hosts and attendees, and sending RSVP messages.

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Jan. 29 was an especially exciting day for mobile Android users, who were able to download the complete version of Microsoft Office to their tablet devices. After testing the beta version of the app since November 2014, users can finally download the complete versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint on the Google Play store.

The new app coordinates with OneDrive and Dropbox to provide users access to documents, spreadsheets and presentations that they create through apps available on the Office suite. Its Android-compatible apps are similar to their iOS counterparts; both are created from the same code base. With this release, Microsoft has officially made its Office suite available on all major mobile platforms.

Microsoft's new productivity apps sound like they're worth downloading, but when it comes to describing their many new features, words can only do so much. Click through to learn more about what's in store for the new Office and Outlook apps before trying them on your own device.

Kelly Sheridan is the Staff Editor at Dark Reading, where she focuses on cybersecurity news and analysis. She is a business technology journalist who previously reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft, and Insurance & Technology, where she covered financial ... View Full Bio

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Stratustician
IW Pick
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2015 | 4:19:37 PM
BYOD
The sad reality is that often folks want flexibility and by offering stronger apps which allow better integration with internal systems (usually exchange-related), it's going to be easier to allow other non-windows devices to be considered for the overall business ecosystem, driving mobility and BYOD strategies.  Its a great move for Microsoft as they still will maintain a strong part of that ecosystem, independent of underlying device hardware.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2015 | 7:02:05 PM
Re: BYOD
@Stratustician,

User beware, I mentioned the major security loophole below. Hopefully MSFT addresses this ASAP!
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2015 | 7:23:07 PM
Re: BYOD
That is not good news, hopefully we will see a fix shortly. Luckily adoption cycles tend to be slow, so it will be awhile before corporate rollouts are done, giving lots of time for testing. A great reminder that mobile applications often have security flaws, even when from trusted vendors.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 4:05:35 PM
Re: BYOD
@Stratustician,

I hope so too. The problem is that with corporate BYOD policies, more often than not, the destination app that's on the user's devices isn't limited. The security policies just apply to things like passwords & encryption. If the users do end up downloading & using the Outlook app, they're essentially bypassing all of the BYOD policies since their credentials are stored on MSFT's servers as well.

So hopefully cautious IT departments are picking up on this & locking down apps too!
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:53:50 PM
Re: BYOD
@pcharles09 - When it comes to devices with BOYD policy all app downloads should be restricted for the user. 
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 11:09:40 AM
Re: BYOD
@shakeeb,

That' why a lot of organizations use MDM software like Airwatch & GOOD to restrict what can be installed on corporate use devices. Most people won't like it if BYOD is in use. That's why a lot of people use multiple mobile devices.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:48:19 PM
Re: BYOD
@Stratustician – I think cooperates should take this really slow even after this is fixed to ensure they keep their data safe. 
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 9:45:01 PM
Re: BYOD
Whenever you introduce a new application into your workflow, absolutely. Take your time to do the right security audits. It's better to know what your vulnerabilities are than to just go ahead and implement an application right away. With the rise of BYOD and the fact that the standard perimeters we are used to are now changed due to cloud applications, applications are sadly one of the worst points of attack due to non-standardization of apps across platforms. It's easier to secure a laptop sitting in the corporate network than an app out there in the wild.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:46:48 PM
Re: BYOD
@pcharles09- Has Microsoft answered to this question in any of the forums? 
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 11:08:27 AM
Re: BYOD
@shakeeb,

I believe there's been updates but no clear answer if this flaw is no longer an exploit. The non-MSFT penetration testers will probably be better suited to answer this question.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:49:35 AM
Re: BYOD
I agree with you. I am not quite sure whether this links with the new outlook 365 emails which is the web view of outlook. However I find it very useful in my day to day work.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:42:57 PM
Re: BYOD
@Stratustician- Do you think Microsoft outlook mobile version will be able to work better than the inbuilt Email app on android?
Stratustician
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Stratustician,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 9:48:17 PM
Re: BYOD
It's too early to say. Anything that allows for better functionality is going to be preferred to a ported application that does basic functionality. Personally, I'm curious to see if I can get CRM integration in the outlook app. If so, it's a huge win for me as it moves away from multiple applications and a disconnected workflow.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
2/3/2015 | 2:28:50 AM
Re: BYOD
I am not sure how Outlook and other Office components will perform on iOS and Android. But I think MS is taking the right approach to embrace mobile computing trend. In the near future people will do more work on mobile phone/tablet than on normal PC. I do hope it will become better and better by integrating more existing functionalities.
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
1/30/2015 | 6:59:38 PM
MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
Alas, Microsoft releases an app for their flagship email client. Don't enjoy it too much if you're a business user. There's a major security flaw in the way the app works. Logins are stored in the cloud. Specifically:

"the app stores user email and server credentials in the cloud without readily informing users, which jeopardises corporate security"

Not good fresh out of the gate. So if you decide to use the app, beware. I suggest not using it at all.
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 9:02:28 AM
Re: MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
> "the app stores user email and server credentials in the cloud
> without readily informing users, which jeopardises corporate security"

That can be a policy breach - if the corporate security policy is that of not to store passwords in the cloud.

But how can it be security flaw if password is saved and not compromised?
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 4:08:03 PM
Re: MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
@nasimson,

"But how can it be security flaw if password is saved and not compromised?"

The answer to that is 'How do you know when you'll be breached?'

You don't. So the mere fact that user credentials are stored is not a good thing. Look at what happened with the iCloud breach. A few months prior to that, people would probably swear that iCLoud wouldn't get hacked.

Imagine the same scenario, except it's with your CEO's corporate email...
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:55:25 PM
Re: MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
@pcharles09 – yes storing passwords itself is not a good thing. As you said you never know when you will be hacked. 
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 11:11:05 AM
Re: MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
@shakeeb,

Getting hacked isn't the issue. It's the fact that those passwords are what's most likely used in the corporate environment. This essentially means MSFT may know corporate user login information. Whether it gets hacked is not the concern. It's the breach of credentials that is.
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:51:59 PM
Re: MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
@nasimson – Either way don't you think that's wrong?
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:45:10 PM
Re: MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
@pcharles09- Thanks for sharing. It stores our security information in the cloud without asking for permission is definitely a major security flaw. 
pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 11:07:22 AM
Re: MAJOR SECURITY FLAW
@shakeeb,

Correct. I mean it's in the use agreement, but most people don't read it!
nasimson
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nasimson,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:44:58 AM
rip off
> Outlook now allows users to sort emails into "focused" and "other" columns
> so that important notices rise to the surface, while secondary messages are
> placed to the side.

Isnt this a rip off of Google's PRIMARY and others (Social, Promotions) feature already introduced half an  year ago? Microsoft is always playing catch up, when it can do so much better given its mammoth size and budget!
shakeeb
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shakeeb,
User Rank: Ninja
1/31/2015 | 8:49:53 PM
Re: rip off
@nasimson – Seems that Microsoft has only come up with a new term for it "focused", apart from that the rest remains the same. 
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
2/2/2015 | 2:17:44 PM
Re: rip off
Email folders have been around for a long long time, way before there was even a Gmail or even Google.
gfish66
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gfish66,
User Rank: Strategist
2/3/2015 | 1:52:58 PM
Hellooooo Contacts???
Why is no one talking about Contacts?  Outlook Preview for Android doesn't access contacts as stored with the email account.  Instead it builds a list of recently used email contacts, and you don't anything additional data you may have stored, such as phone numbers, addresses, notes, etc.  As soon as I installed this app, all the contact names in my SMS app disappeared, replaced with only meaningless phone numbers.

Talk about COLOSSAL FAIL.  How can you use this app without Contacts?  I uninstalled it within 5 minutes.  I am stunned this hasn't been talked about.
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