Future Vision
Veniamin Simonov, Director of Product Management at NAKIVO

Member Article

The Future Vision of Office 365

“Productivity is personal” shares Jon Friedman, Head of Microsoft Office design in his blog which offered a sneak peek into the future of Microsoft 365 in light of the drastic and irreversible changes that 2020 has dropped at the world’s feet.

Friedman provides a tantalizing snapshot of Microsoft’s overall design philosophy by shedding light on the remarkably moulded future of flexible designs that are meant to “facilitate not just modern work, but modern life.” And it’s true, no longer is there a definitive line. As the coronavirus spreads across the globe, forcing more people to work from home, the outbreak has kickstarted the world’s largest workplace experiment – bleeding the lines between a work-life balance.

Microsoft, however, remains at the forefront of change, the curators of consumer trends and the trailblazers of technology - pioneering the implementation of new tech and new ideas on a mass scale. While the coronavirus really has changed the world forever – the future vision of 365 shows that in some ways, it looks set to get better.

So, what does the future hold for Microsoft 365? And why has the pandemic called for a re-imagining of design?

**Designing for optimal focus **

In a world full of distractions, Friedman shares a vision of focus by optimizing tools to streamline an individual’s energy and attention. The single-line ribbon, Dark Mode, and Fluent designs have set the tone for the installation and creation of new technology designed to boost an individual’s cognitive state. These tools include fading brand colours from app headers, exploring adaptive commanding and even a flexible ribbon that gradually discloses relevant commands.

Users can look forward to an advanced, seamless, cross-suite search to bring only relevant information to your display screen. Cultivating an organized mind in a sea of distractions won’t be easy – but by harnessing tools that minimize external distractions while simultaneously triggering artistic flow, Microsoft is setting the groundwork for a new era of technology.

Humanizing digital connections

We’ve all had to adapt to working from home and with this comes a whole new range of human interactions. Now, however, these encounters are limited to the confinement of a screen. To humanize these exchanges, Microsoft plans to use more logistical and emotional features to streamline connectivity – this means regenerating apps to be more collaborative, amusing and relaxed.

With work and life merging, Friedman urges that “you may want to communicate who you are beyond an avatar photo.” Future applications will see more colourful themes and backgrounds to experimental UX so that remote workers can express their gender and culture – leading to more authentic connections between people. Microsoft will also be adding more asynchronous capabilities so that users can connect when and how 365 works best for them. In turn, reducing meeting fatigue but allowing you to dazzle through your webcam.

Microsoft not only intends to connect people while on their interface, but they also see a future where relationships can flourish despite its surface. The Family Safety app, for example, will limit screen time across devices and filter out undesirable content to promote healthy wellbeing. With work and home lives now under the same rooftop, it has allowed people to take a step back and spend time on the things that were perhaps lost to the corporate world. The future vision of 365 will both accept and aid this revelation.

**AI of the future **

Artificial Intelligence is the hot topic of the moment in technology, and the driving force behind most of the big technological breakthroughs of recent years. In fact, with all of the breathless hype we hear about it today, it’s easy to forget that AI isn’t anything all that new. Throughout the last century, it has moved out of the domain of science fiction and into the real world – Microsoft’s vision is to amplify AI, and its powerful ability to analyse copious amounts of data in order to serve everyday human needs.

For example, Project Cortex already harnesses the power of AI to create knowledge networks by turning overwhelming amounts of information into easily understood data that customers can rely and act on. Friedman’s envisions a future where this continues to evolve, energizing projects by helping customers accelerate their skills and innovate more effectively. In Planner, Microsoft is now advancing how AI can auto-suggest end dates for tasks based on their descriptions, and Excel will catch errors as you write formulas while collecting existing errors and storing them in an easy-to-find place. In the AI-enable future, humans will be able to converse, discover and interact like never before.

**Designing for change **

The new normal has seemed to swallow whole the archetypal work/life divide. Recognizing this change has steered Microsoft 365 in a direction that supports life in its entirety - encompassing the broader ecosystem of unique lived experiences. This includes creating the blueprints for diverse and ethical digital spaces to support a world that has battled this year with racial discrimination, the long-term effects of a digital learning gap and the economic divide between ‘essential’ and ‘non-essential’ workers.

Additionally, as the interactions that characterize humanity have been disturbed by an invisible disease, a response to the isolation created by mandated quarantines has led to whole new generations embracing technology. Before the virus, we supplemented the ways that we communicated, worked and learned with technology. Now, we are co-developing new kinds of dependencies on them to stay connected in a disjointed world, and the role they play in our lives is coming into sharp focus.

So, this is a chance to address longstanding issues, set new goals, solve new problems and revisit opportunities. And after crisis comes recovery. No-one knows exactly how long the coronavirus pandemic will be with us – instead, we can design and plan for a more resilient future. Having a diligent Backup for Microsoft Office will compliment this. Data backups are vital in ensuring that, should the worst happen, your business can make a full recovery with the minimum of downtime. So, having the right solution can make your critical infrastructure resilient to failure.

**Building a better future **

The picture now might be bleak, but the pandemic could push the world into innovations that’ll streamline technology and digital tools for the better. With work and home fully cemented under one roof, the future of office 365 aims to facilitate this shift to remote life. Microsoft’ vision, therefore, is to design a future that’ll combat one of the most sweeping crises in recent memory with human-led tools to help users respond, recover and ultimately thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Nakivo .

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