Microsoft released the Windows 11 operating system (OS) over a year ago. It was largely well-received as stable and user-friendly. The OS is not a large departure from the Windows 10 experience. But it does offer a lot of enhancements over the older environment.
Yet with several improvements and a free upgrade for Windows 10 users, it still lags in adoption. As of November 2022, Windows 10 still owns the lion’s share of Windows PCs. It has a 69.75 percent usage share as compared to 16.13 percent for Windows 11.
People are slowly upgrading to the newer OS. But it’s natural for some to take a wait-and-see stance. They want to make sure it’s worth the time to upgrade. Additionally, no one wants to have to relearn their computer desktop.
The good news is that Windows 11 has a similar workspace feel to its predecessor. But it packs a lot of great productivity and security benefits that Windows 10 lacks.
Here are some of the coolest features in this current Windows OS. After taking a look, you may choose to go ahead and take the plunge into the Windows 11 universe.
Most people are working with more than one app open at a time. It’s not unusual to need to reference two different windows while doing side-by-side work. Switching back and forth between apps can be tedious. It’s also time-consuming.
Approximately 68% of app users say that switching between apps costs them at least 30 minutes per day. Trying to size two windows next to each other can also be frustrating. You lose the scroll bar or can’t get to the menu items unless you resize.
Enter snap layouts. This nifty feature in Windows 11 solves the multi-app problem. Simply hover over the maximize icon at the top of any window to get access to a snap layout.
Choose the area you want for the active app, and it will snap into place and allow you to choose apps for the other slots.
Need to find a document, website, image, or app quickly? Use the Windows 11 master search. Just click the search icon on your desktop. You’ll get a search bar that will populate results from the entered keyword.
As an added touch, Microsoft populates fun topics into the search bar daily. Learn more about James Webb Space Telescope, Coffee Day, or other fun subjects.
Once you enter your keyword, you can further refine your search. Refine it according to the type of search result you want. (apps, documents, web, etc.).
Clipchamp Video Editor
In the latest Windows 11 update, Microsoft gifted users with a free video editor. The new Clipchamp app makes it easy to edit videos. You don’t need to download any extra software.
Clipchamp has a lot of the features you’d expect to have to pay for. These include templates, effects, video resizing, green screen, and more.
MS Teams Video, Audio & Text Messaging
Video calls have become the norm since the pandemic. But not all video software is easy to use. Most of us have had to wait on someone late to a call because they were struggling with the app.
Windows 11 comes with Microsoft Teams preinstalled. This gives you a simple click-to-call experience. You can easily invite someone to a video or audio call. The person does not need to have a Microsoft account to connect with you. This makes things easy on both sides.
Another great feature of the Teams app in this OS is the fact that you can use it for SMS messaging. Instead of having to drag out your phone, just text someone from your desktop.
Windows 11 has some great accessibility features. They’re designed to help ensure everyone can use their computer as they want. Those with disabilities can enjoy these features. As well as those that like the extra flexibility they offer.
Four of the newest accessibility features in the OS include:
System-wide live captions
More natural voices for Narrator, Windows’ built-in screen reader
Collections in Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge is the default browser for Windows. It’s worth checking out if you haven’t yet. Especially because of a feature called “collections.”
If your bookmarked favorites are becoming a mess, you’ll love this Edge capability. If you click the “plus” icon at the top of an Edge browser window, you’ll get the collections panel. Add a collection subject and click to add webpages.
You can see a preview of what you’ve added, and everything is nicely organized. Collections are easy to access and easy to delete when you’re finished with them.
Microsoft Defender SmartScreen
Phishing remains the biggest online security threat. It’s used to enable many forms of cyberattacks, from ransomware to credential theft. A significant number of phishing messages send users to malicious websites. You often don’t know until it’s too late that you’ve landed on a malware-laden site.
Windows 11 includes Microsoft Defender SmartScreen. This app helps protect you from those dangerous phishing sites. The app checks URLs in real-time against a dynamic list of reported phishing sites. It will warn you if a site is potentially dangerous.
Want an Expert to Help with Your Windows 11 Upgrade?
It can be intimidating to upgrade your system’s operating system. Why not get a pro to help? Give us a call today to schedule a chat about a Windows upgrade.
If you follow Microsoft products, then you may know about Microsoft Ignite. Held annually, it generates many exciting updates and announcements in the Microsoft world.
Microsoft held its most recent conference last October. In the rush of the recent holidays, you may have missed some of the highlights. So, we’re bringing them to you now.
One thing you’ll notice is that Microsoft Teams got a lot of love at the event. Microsoft is now describing Teams as “the app at the center of Microsoft 365.” We can see why the company keeps enhancing this virtual workspace. Teams now has over 280 million users. It’s not surprising seeing that Microsoft has introduced over 450 new Teams features. And that’s just in the last year.
We’ll go over some Teams features below, along with other Microsoft App announcements from Ignite. These may give you some ideas for your next digital workflow upgrade.
There is a new Teams Premium offering from Microsoft that adds a whole new AI component to the platform. This service includes several AI-powered features. They make it seem like you have your own meeting assistant.
Some of the cool features include automatically generating chapters from a Teams meeting. The app also generates personalized highlights for you. This saves you from having to rewatch the meeting later.
If you’re meeting internationally, you can enjoy real-time translations for captions. Meeting guides is another new feature. It sets up your meeting options according to your needs.
360-Degree Intelligent Camera for Teams Meetings
SmartVision 60 is the first 360-degree, center-of-room intelligent camera. It has the ability to track the speaker as they’re moving. The camera is also due to have a people recognition feature coming soon.
Virtual meetings can feel much more like real meetings using SmartVision 60. Instead of just seeing a small video feed of one person, the movement of the camera can capture a whole team.
Cisco is Now a Certified Devices Partner for Teams Rooms
Those that are fans of Cisco meeting products will be pleased to know they now have more options. Microsoft announced that Cisco is now a Teams Room Certified Devices partner. You can now start Teams meetings across all certified Cisco meeting devices.
One of the virtual workspace apps to support the new hybrid movement is Microsoft Places. This is a team management app that integrates with the rest of the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.
The office is still around, but for how long? Much of the world had to do things virtually during the pandemic. Many companies and employees found they like it better that way. Seventy-four percent of US companies have or plan to put in place a permanent hybrid work model.
Microsoft Places is one more way Microsoft is leading the hybrid office revolution. Some of the app’s features include:
Manage and track where employees are working (at home or in the office)
Track whether coworkers are away or available
Track physical room use to make strategic decisions
Hours & Location Feature in Outlook & Teams
Another feature announcement related to the hybrid working world is hours and location. This is a new capability added to Teams and Outlook to make it easier to schedule in-person meetings.
It can get tricky to plan in-person meetings when you don’t know who is working at the office and who is remote. If you plan without checking, you’re bound to alienate someone. They won’t be happy if they were planning to work from home that day.
The new hours and location feature allows people to specify where they are working. They can adjust this from hour to hour. It takes the guesswork out of scheduling.
Loop App Private Preview
Another exciting app announcement that Microsoft made was about its Loop app. It stated that Loop entered private preview. This gives some organizations a chance to check it out.
Loop is a collaborative workspace app that helps teams ideate in a virtual space. All data pulled in from Microsoft 365 apps syncs automatically to stay up to date.
Microsoft Clipchamp Video Editor
You may have noticed an unfamiliar app popping up on Windows. Microsoft Clipchamp was formally announced at the Ignite event. It’s a quick and easy video editor for Windows PCs.
Have you ever felt frustrated trying to fix a video and not having the right tool to do it? Then you may want to take a closer look at what Clipchamp has to offer. It looks to have a fairly low learning curve.
Get Help Navigating the Microsoft 365 Universe
Microsoft 365 has come a long way in a short period. There are many different app integrations you can use to power your workflow. But it can get a bit complicated without an expert to help. Give us a call today to schedule a Microsoft consultation.
You often hear the words “digital transformation” and “collaboration.” But what do they actually mean? What do they mean for the day-to-day of running your business?
Collaboration can’t happen without shared goals. When departments are siloed and unconnected, priorities can conflict. People are doing their best but may not be moving in the same direction.
Digital transformation is simply the use of technology to better reach business goals. This encompasses moving from analog ways of doing things. Transitioning to tools that are more automated and connected.
Microsoft has been at the forefront of digital transformation and collaboration. Its Viva platform drives an improved employee experience. It does this by use of AI, automation, cloud connectivity, and more.
In this article, you’ll get an overview of Microsoft Viva. Then, we’ll dive into one of the newest Viva offerings, Viva Goals. We’ll explore what it does and how it can help your company meet its targets.
What Is Microsoft Viva?
Microsoft Viva is a line of employee experience applications. These connect to the Microsoft 365 platform, and especially Microsoft Teams. The apps act as add-ons that can build on your organization’s digital capabilities.
There are currently seven apps within the Microsoft Viva line:
Viva Topics: Allows organizations to harness knowledge and experience. It serves up relevant topics from the company knowledge base from keywords.
Viva Connections: Gives employees a personalized and connected newsfeed. The company newsfeed serves up important news, conversations, and tools.
Viva Learning: Consolidates employee training apps. Makes it easy for employees to gain new skills from inside the MS Teams application.
Viva Insights: Improves employee well-being and corporate culture. Uses data-driven insights to provide productivity and well-being recommendations.
Viva Sales: Reduces the data input needed from salespeople. Serves up helpful lead interaction recommendations.
Viva Engage: Cultivates personal networks and community. Fosters engagement and knowledge sharing.
Viva Goals: Enables clarity and alignment of corporate goals.
The Viva line expands what businesses may traditionally see as “software.” It creates a connection between Microsoft Office and M365 apps. It also focuses on the people, rather than the tool. Microsoft designed Viva applications to use AI. This makes work easier and gives visibility into actionable data points.
What is Viva Goals?
Viva Goals is one of the newest Viva applications from Microsoft. It connects teams so they’re moving toward a shared set of goals. Employees align, whether someone works in the accounting department or customer support.
Business leaders can look at Viva Goals as a way to solidify company objectives. They can then tie these objectives to meaningful targets for each department.
For example, say you have a corporate target to provide exceptional customer support. This goal by itself is generic. It doesn’t connect to what teams need to do to make it happen.
In Viva Goals, that target can have directives for various teams. Such as customer support reducing ticket resolution by 8 hours. This brings goals to a meaningful level and allows organizations to track progress.
Here are the key value-adds of using Viva Goals.
Aligns Your Team to the Same Goals
Viva Goals puts company goals and targets in a tangible form. There is a definition of success for teams and individuals. Work outcomes are directly connected to company-wide objectives.
Everyone is on the same page, rather than departments pursuing different targets. With alignment, companies can more easily reach their goals.
Maintains Focus on Goals
Viva connects to other M365 apps, making it easier to gather data insights. These insights help leaders more easily see goal progress.
Employees stay focused on goals. This is because goals connect to their daily work targets. Rather than being something they hear at a company event, goals get infused into the workflow.
Integration with Teams & M365
The integration with Teams keeps goals front and center. Employees get recognized for meeting targets and helping the company achieve its goals. This keeps everyone engaged and moving together.
Progress towards goals isn’t kept on a spreadsheet on someone’s cloud drive. Instead, stats on goal achievement live in tools used daily. When goals remain visible, organizations have a better chance to achieve them.
How Do You Get Viva Goals?
If you want to subscribe to Viva Goals as an add-on to your M365 plan, it is currently $6.00/user/month.
For the entire suite of Viva applications, the current price is $9.00/user/month.
Questions About Microsoft 365 or Viva Goals?
Digital transformation with tools like Microsoft Viva is a necessity if you want to keep up. Old ways of doing things are giving way to the cloud, AI, and machine learning. We can help you navigate that territory. Give us a call and schedule a consultation to learn more.
Microsoft Teams is a lot of things. It’s a video conferencing tool, a team messaging channel, and a tool for in-app co-authoring, just to name a few. During the pandemic, the popularity of Teams skyrocketed.
User numbers for MS Teams jumped from 20 million in November 2019 to 75 million in April 2020. As of this year, Microsoft reports a user count of 270 million for the platform. This makes it the most popular business tool for team communications.
But one of the things that makes the app popular is also one that can make the setup complex. Microsoft Teams has many moving parts, but to use them effectively they need to be well organized. Additionally, users need to have a chance to learn the system and train on best practices.
What Can Microsoft Teams Do?
First, let’s look at the different areas of Microsoft Teams and what it can do. Then, we’ll give you a simple setup checklist to help your team get up and running productively.
You can think of Teams as a virtual office in the cloud. It’s a centralized hub where teams can communicate, collaborate, and manage tasks. There is also an external communication component to Teams. You can use the app to video conference with anyone. You can also invite guests to a chat channel.
Here are some of the features of MS Teams:
Siloed chat channels
Security for team communications
Integration with Office apps
Integration with 3rd party apps
Video and audio conferencing
VoIP phone system (with an extra add-on)
Keep all team resources in a single place
Microsoft Teams Versions
Some good news for small businesses is that there is a free version of Microsoft Teams. If you sign up for a Microsoft 365 business plan, you get the app included, but with a few more features.
Microsoft has also been pushing MS Teams for personal use. So, you can use it to keep your departments better coordinated at work. Or to manage family video calls or PTA meeting collaboration. It’s a versatile and scalable virtual office platform.
Easy Checklist for Setting Up Microsoft Teams
1. Set Up Your Teams/Departments
One of the advantages of Teams is that it allows you to set up specific areas for your groups to collaborate. You do not want everyone to set these teams up on their own, or you could end up with an unorganized mess.
Some ideas for setting these up:
Set up teams by department (accounting, marketing, etc.)
Add a company-wide team (where everyone can collaborate)
Set up teams by role (office managers, executives, etc.)
Typically, if you mirror the hierarchy of your organization, that’s a good place to start. Team areas are secured so only those users invited can see or access any of the content in that team.
2. Add Team Members
For each team, add the members allowed to take part in that team. These would be people that can see the resources posted in that team area. It would normally be the members of the department or group that the team is designed for.
3. Set Up Team Channels
The next level beneath the Team is the Channels. These team channels help organize conversations. For example, within a team set up for your marketing department, you may decide to add three channels. This keeps conversations more focused and makes it easier to find things.
For instance, you could have channels for:
Team channels are another area that you want to control. Don’t let everyone set up channels without a plan, otherwise, things get messy fast.
4. Set Up Team Tabs
Tabs are a great way to foster productivity. Say that employees on your accounting team need to access a tax reporting website. Inevitably, there can be time wasted asking for that link or a login. This is especially true if someone is filling in for a co-worker.
You can add that website link and info to the Tabs area at the top of the team channels. Just click the plus sign to add a new resource and consolidate things for your team members.
5. Schedule MS Teams Training
One of the reasons that company initiatives fail is that users weren’t properly enabled. If users aren’t trained on using MS Teams, then they’ll revert to using whatever they used before. This negates the benefits of moving to Teams when not everyone is onboard.
Work with a Microsoft professional to train your teams. We can provide tips on the most productive features. As well as short-cut their learning curve quite a bit! Make sure to have a realistic timeframe. You should also survey users on whether they feel they need more training.
Need Some Help Implementing Teams in Your Organization?
We can help you over many of the roadblocks that organizations face when starting with Teams. Contact us today for a free consultation to enhance your collaboration and productivity.
Data entry can be a real drag for salespeople. The time they spend on administrative tasks is time away from customer interactions. But that data is vital.
It’s important to capture customer orders, quotes, needs, and more. Lead and sales reporting help sales managers know where to direct their attention. Analytics also help drive more efficient ways of closing the deal.
Microsoft has taken up the mantle of this challenge. It is about to launch a new digital experience for sales teams. Microsoft Viva Sales is part of the “Viva” line of applications. These include things like Viva Insights for improved staff wellbeing. As well as Viva Learning for staff development.
The Viva apps natively integrate with MS Teams and the Microsoft 365 ecosystem. They include automation designed to eliminate boring tasks and enable more work engagement.
Viva Sales is a “CRM helper” application. We’ll go through some of the most asked questions about the app, its features, and when you can get it.
What Is Microsoft Viva Sales?
Viva Sales is an application that will provide sales and lead insights. These insights populate throughout Office 365 and Microsoft Teams. The focus of the app is to cut unnecessary manual entry to give sellers more time to sell.
How Does Viva Sales Work? Is It a CRM?
Viva Sales is NOT going to replace your normal CRM platform. Instead, it connects to your CRM and other sales-related apps. It leverages the data from these connections. This makes it easier for salespeople to get the prospect data they need to enable their work.
Salespeople spend approximately 34% of their time on administrative tasks.
Viva Sales Basics
Some of the core advantages of Viva Sales are:
Eliminate Forms: Data entry for sales professionals is greatly reduced. This frees them up for more customer relationship building.
Powerful Data Leveraging: Viva Sales connects to several platforms. This includes non-Microsoft programs and CRMs. The integration allows salespeople to cross-reference data points and gain valuable insights.
AI-Driven Help: Salespeople will get prompts that are AI-driven. These suggestions and reminders help them along in the sales process with a lead.
Microsoft Viva Sales provides sales-specific insights throughout the various M365 applications. Salespeople natively see important customer details, wherever they are. Including in their Outlook Calendar or when in their Microsoft or non-Microsoft CRM.
Viva Sales Features
Tag to Capture Sales Interactions
Tagging is also known as using someone’s “@name” to get their attention. Tagging is a popular software integration used throughout many cloud-based apps. It’s also used within Microsoft 365.
Salespeople can use the familiar tagging function. They can use it to capture data from another M365 application for a prospect or customer. This includes adding someone to a list of customers by using a tag for their Viva Sales name. The system will capture the contextual information on the lead or customer.
Viva Sales makes it easier than ever to collaborate with your team on a sales prospect or customer. You don’t have to chase down information to copy/paste into a message. Use that tagging function to populate lead information from Viva Sales in seconds.
You can also easily edit or open a lead/customer record. No need to look for and open another app. The process gets you where you need to go in as few clicks as possible.
Call Summaries & Integrated Data
One thing that customers and salespeople hate is a lack of understanding. For example, when a salesperson doesn’t know about a recent customer interaction.
This can happen when company communication systems store data from different sources separately. Such as phone call messages being in one place and a customer’s website chat session being in another.
Viva Sales brings all that customer engagement data together into a single view. This allows the salesperson to see call summaries and capture call action items.
Download & Customize
Salespeople that prefer an Excel view of their contact list can get this from Viva Sales. Download lead and customer lists. Customize the application per the organization’s needs.
When Will Viva Sales Be Available?
Microsoft has announced that Viva Sales will be “coming in Q4 2022.” There is no exact date for the launch yet, but you can be sure that we will keep an eye on this!
Microsoft 365 is the most popular of all major office productivity software. It has 48.8% of the global market share, just edging out Google’s apps, by a couple of percentage points.
It’s used by individuals, small & mid-sized businesses, and larger enterprise organizations. It does everything a modern office needs. Including from word processing and spreadsheet work to cloud storage and video conferencing.
Because Microsoft 365 is such a vast platform, with over 20 apps in total, it can be easy to miss helpful features. People tend to stick with what’s familiar. But this often causes them to miss out on time and money-saving bonuses in M365, beyond the core apps.
Some of the many apps you get, depending on your subscription plan, include:
Want to get more value from your subscription? We’ll go through some of the most helpful apps and features in Microsoft 365 that you may now know about.
Get More Out of M365 With These Tips
1. Skip the Menu Bar by Using Search to Find Functions
We’ve all been there at one time or another. You know there is a way to do something in an app, but you can’t find it in the menu. For example, trying to change your margins in Microsoft Word to give you more space on the page.
You can stop wasting time clicking through one tab after another, and instead, use the search box at the top. It’s not just for searching for help topics. You can use a search to quickly jump to settings like margins, page orientation, and many more.
2. Leverage the Free Stock Images, Icons & Videos
Most businesses need to have nice-looking images from time to time. They’re used on websites, brochures, and presentations. But finding good business images can be expensive.
You can’t just do a Google search to find them because they may be copyrighted. You need to have images that you can use commercially without any problems.
Inside Word, Excel, and PowerPoint you have a treasure trove of images. These are free to use in your marketing. You also have videos, icons, and even 3D models, all there for the picking.
Find them by going to Insert > Pictures > Stock Images
Use the tab at the top to tab between the different media. Then, click to insert it directly into your document, spreadsheet, or presentation.
3. Save Time by Using Data Types in Excel
Researching things like the population of a city or the nutrition value of a new menu can take days. Did you know that inside Excel you have access to several databases?
You can leverage facts and figures stored inside Excel’s “data types.” They include topics on everything from chemistry to yoga poses. Use data types to populate tons of data in seconds for various topics.
Start by adding your list (e.g., a list of menu items)
Highlight your list.
Then, click the Data tab.
In the Data Types window, choose the type of data it is (e.g., Food, Plant, etc.).
Next, click the small database icon that appears at the top of the list.
Choose the type of data you want.
The details will populate into the next open column on the right for each list item.
4. Save Time on Customer Surveys with Microsoft Forms
Microsoft Forms is one of the best-kept secrets of M365. This cloud-based survey and form builder makes it simple to send out surveys to people. You get the results back as soon as they click “submit” on the cloud-based form.
You can even download the results directly to Excel. Using them for graphing or uploading them into a software template.
5. Use PPT’s Presenter Coach to Improve Your Skills
Do you worry when it comes time to give a presentation to clients or your own team? Not everyone feels comfortable about public speaking, even if it’s virtual.
PowerPoint can help with a handy AI-powered feature called Presenter Coach. Turn this coach on when practicing your presentation. It will give you tips on your pacing, use of filler words (e.g., umm), repetitive language, and much more!
Look for the “Rehearse with Coach” option on the Slide Show menu.
6. Save Recurring Email Text in Outlook’s Quick Parts
Do you have certain emails you send to customers that have the same paragraphs of text in them? For example, it might be directions to your building or how to contact support.
Stop retyping the same info every time. Outlook has a feature called Quick Parts that saves and then inserts blocks of text into emails.
Create a Quick Part by highlighting the text to save in an email.
On the Insert Menu, click Quick Parts.
Save Quick Part.
When ready to insert that text into another email, just use the same menu. Then click to insert the Quick Part.
7. Create a Keyboard Shortcut to Paste as Unformatted Text
Keyboard shortcuts are great for saving time. But there’s not always one there when you need it. One handy keyboard shortcut to add for MS Word is to paste as text only. This method removes any formatting that copied text might have had so your document isn’t messed up.
Here’s how to make a keyboard shortcut for this:
In Word, click File> Options.
Click Customize Ribbon.
At the bottom of the panel, next to Keyboard shortcuts, click Customize.
Scroll in the left pane to All Commands.
Look for “PasteTextOnly”
Type your keyboard command, then click Assign.
Need Help Optimizing Microsoft 365?
Microsoft 365 has many security-enhancing, time-saving, and dollar-saving features. Learn how else we can help by scheduling a consultation today.