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The New Improved Office 365 Mobile Phone Offering

At the launch of Office 365, many felt that its mobile phone support was limited both in functionality (Exchange 2010 only) and the devices supported. Indeed, compatibility extended only to: Windows Phone 7.5 and earlier; Exchange ActiveSync devices; and BlackBerry smartphones.

Since then, Microsoft has added Lync 2010 support and strengthened the functionality for the complete Office 365 suite. Today, mobile phone users now benefit from Office 365 in a variety of ways. Here are some of the existing features and updates since the launch.

Exchange 2010 Support

Exchange 2010 enables the majority of mobile phones to be effective email clients beyond the traditional send and receive. Some of the features include:

  • Email, calendar, contacts and task synchronisation
  • Remote wipe in case of a lost or stolen phone
  • Global address support for corporate distribution lists
  • Encrypted email transmission

SharePoint 2010 Support

SharePoint 2010 is the foundation of the Office 365 data repository and many mobile phone users were disappointed at the lack of full access support to the SharePoint functionality. Since the launch, Microsoft has bolstered mobile phone access. Here are some of the features available now:-

  • Access SharePoint sites
  • View lists of documents
  • Search for content on SharePoint sites, lists, or document libraries
  • Open documents stored in SharePoint

Lync 2010 Support

Lync 2010 was not originally supported at the launch of Office 365, however in December 2011, Microsoft added a number of features that allowed mobile phones to use some of the functionality of Lync. These features include:-

  • Instant Messaging (IM) and multiparty IM
  • IM/Email integration (eg send IM as part of an email)
  • Presence State (Busy, Do Not Disturb, Free etc)
  • Conference call integration

Web App Support

At the launch of Office 365, many mobile users also found that Office 365 Web App support, if available on their phone, was limited to viewing documents via the web app browser. Since the launch, however, Office 365 now provides the majority of mobile phones with a lot more features, including:-

  • Viewing documents online
  • Downloading documents for later viewing
  • Editing documents
  • In-document searching

Mobile phone support in Office 365 has come a long way since its launch. At the time of writing, no more can be gleaned from the Office 365 Mobility Solutions Service Description, which still shows the original hints at what is to come. Today's Office 365 offering provides a more compelling offer for mobile phone users with the extra features that support integration with Lync Online, SharePoint usage and the ability to download and edit documents from a mobile phone. Mobile phone operating system support for SharePoint access has also increased to include:

  • Android 1.5 or later
  • Apple iPhone 3.0 or later
  • Blackberry 4.2 or later
  • Nokia S60 3.0 or later E series and N series devices
  • Windows Mobile 6.1 + (Internet Explorer mobile and Office Mobile 2010 for 6.5.x devices)
  • Windows Phone 7.5, codenamed "Mango" or later

Note one small caveat with the list above - the older the operating system, the less functionality users will have. The later the operating system, the better!