Posts Tagged ‘ outlook ’

Outlook Web App goes native on Android

Written by admin
June 14th, 2014

Preview requires KitKat and an off-premises Exchange mailbox

Microsoft on Wednesday released a preview version of Outlook Web App (OWA) for Google’s Android, fulfilling a promise made in March.

OWA for Android is a “native” app that reprises the in-browser OWA that corporate workers have long used on devices that don’t support the full-fledged Outlook client or have that software installed.

The Android app — like the iOS cousins Microsoft shipped in July 2013 — offers the same functionality as OWA in a browser, letting users access email, calendars and contacts housed on a company’s off-premises Exchange server.

According to Microsoft, the beta of OWA for Android requires a smartphone with a “small” or “normal” screen as defined by Google; Android 4.4, aka “KitKat” or later; and an Office 365 mailbox.

Android tablets are not supported.
Rather than defining screen sizes in inches, Google uses “dp,” for “density-independent pixels,” but does give a rough conversion of the latter to the former: Small or normal screens are those up to about 5-in. The Samsung Galaxy S5, which sports a 5.1-in. display, can run OWA, for example.

The KitKat requirement could also be a problem, since that version is currently on only about 14% of all Android smartphones. Microsoft said that it would be adding support for other devices as the preview progressed, and even provided a place where users can vote for models that cannot yet run the app.

As it has with other mobile variations of Office, Microsoft dangled OWA as a carrot to entice customers into subscribing to Office 365, the rent-not-own plans introduced in 2013. Only customers with active business-grade Office 365 accounts can use OWA on an Android device, even though the app itself is free to download.

More important is the requirement of Exchange Online, the off-premises, hosted Exchange service included with virtually every non-consumer Office 365 plan. Businesses that still run their own on-premise Exchange servers are out of luck, as they’ve been since OWA’s iOS debut almost a year ago. Microsoft has long promised that OWA will be officially supported from on-premises Exchange servers, but has yet to pull the trigger or even announce anything.

Because it targets corporate workers, OWA for Android will not work for customers who have subscribed to the consumer-grade Office 365 plans — Home, at $100 annually, or Personal, which costs $70 a year — nor with, the browser-based consumer email service that Microsoft operates.

Early reviews of OWA for Android were not kind. On Google Play, the app scored 2.1 out of a possible 5 stars, with many users reporting that OWA refused to let them log into their Office 365 accounts, while others dinged it for being sluggish or looking too un-Android.

OWA for Android

OWA for Android is a native app that replicates the access to Exchange-based mail, contacts and calendars (shown here) previously available only through a browser. (Image: Microsoft.)

Still others took Microsoft to task for the off-premises Exchange requirement. “Not everyone uses Office 365!!!” said Adam Bohn, who apparently was entranced by exclamation marks. “It’s ridiculous that this app is exclusively for Office 365. Many organizations host their own Exchange servers and use Outlook 2013. There is absolutely no reason this app should be exclusive to Office 365!!!”

Microsoft replied to Bohn’s comment — and others of similar ilk — in the Reviews section of Google Play. “For this pre-release we’re focused on making this app great for Office 365 mailboxes,” a company representative countered. “We do not have any news to share at this time regarding our plans for on-premises Exchange.”

Some scoffed at Microsoft’s vagueness. “By the sounds of … Microsoft’s response it will be a very cold day when they offer this to work with on-premise Exchange servers,” groused Nicholas Goss.


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Microsoft’s “It’s a great time to be a family” marketing campaign keeps getting better. This ranks as one of my favorite high-tech promotionals in a decade and accomplishes something Microsoft has never successfully done in a mass-marketing campaign — clearly show the benefits of multiple products working together. I spotted two more videos late today.


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Before Microsoft launched the “I’m a PC” campaign three years ago, I recommended firing then new ad agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, after the Chairman Bill Gates and Comedian Jerry Seinfeld commercials aired. But I was wrong to make the recommendation. The agency has produced for Microsoft a string of creative hits, of which the family campaign is just the most recent.

As I explained about two weeks ago, the campaign sells the Microsoft lifestyle — emphasizing relationships and technology enabling them. There’s a real familiarity, because family is something most people can relate to. It’s not like most of us are harvested in test tubes. The commercials are also clever, in the storytelling and how they present the benefits of multiple products. Keyword: Benefits. Not features, but benefits people gain from them.

In the commercial embedded above, a dad shops for groceries from a list on his phone. Yeah, big deal. So he has a shopping list. What’s special about that? But the list updates in — real time. From the family’s Windows 7 PC. Dad uses OneNote on his Windows Phone, and it can dynamically sync via SkyDrive. This Microsoft video explains how. The products aren’t all necessarily named — OneNote, SkyDrive, sync, Windows Phone and Windows 7 — but the benefits are clear.

As I’ve been saying for years, sync is the killer application for the connected age and it’s something the commercial above and another “Tech-No” I wrote about two weeks ago demonstrate. BetaNews reader John Crane commented about the latter:

That epic sharing happened a couple of time in my extended family. We were having separate family get-togethers in two different locations across and country and were able to share videos and photos with each other in real time. We have a couple Apple PC holdouts in my family, but most everybody else uses Windows.

Apple’s iCloud is all the rage right now, in part because it’s new. It’s a sync service more than anything else. But the focus is more about individuals — making your stuff available where you want it. Microsoft’s approach with its cloud sync marketing emphasizes sharing with others — an aspiring message conveyed through the family marketing campaign.

No one talks in the TV commercials, which like those from previous campaigns will be reshot for each locality — 34 international markets. Globalization may be easier for this campaign than others, since there’s no dialogue. In watching the commercials, I find the no-dialog approach very effective. My attention is drawn to activity taking place around the different devices and services.

Have you seen the movie “Blade Runner” directed by Ridley Scott? At the movie studio’s insistence, the final commercial release included voice by actor Harrison Ford. Scott later released “Blade Runner” director’s cut without the voice over, and it’s a much better movie for it. What’s that saying? Silence is golden. Sometimes it is — well, there is musical background.

The marketing campaign runs across different media. I spotted the embedded commercials this evening at, while doing some background research on Apple’s Siri service outage. They started playing immediately, unprompted, too, which is really annoying.

I’m looking forward to the next commercials.