episode 43: Office 365 Features We Use

Difference between Office 365 subscription plans and Office as a one-time purchase

  • The simple overview is that there are monthly subscription plans of Office 365 that include much more than the Office apps: Skype for Business (for instant messaging, file sharing and screen sharing), SharePoint, Exchange email, continuous updates and new features to Office Apps, etc.
  • There are box set annual subscriptions of Office 365 that are mostly Office Apps and a few additions, such as OneDrive (personal) and Skype (personal – for calls).
  • There is also a perpetual license, one-time purchase options, called Office 2016 that includes just the Office apps – and these apps are not automatically updated and will not include new features (included with the Office 365 version of the apps).
  • There are also legacy versions of Office which include Windows Office 2013-2010-2010-2003, Office 2011. Mac Office 2011-2008-2004.
    • Note: Office 365 is often referred to as “O365.”


Let’s start with what is important to us – morph for PowerPoint

  • Sandy: No O365, no morph.
  • Troy: On the technical side, Morph playback works in non-O365 versions, but it becomes simple fade transitions. Also Zoom custom shows is another O365 only feature, which is an upgrade to Custom Shows that uses Morph.


Ivy Charts

  • Sandy: In 2015, Microsoft unveiled a set of new charts to give you more ways to explore data and tell rich stories across Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
  • Nolan: Waterfall, Histogram, Pareto, Box & Whisker, Treemap and Sunburst—six powerful charts that help you quickly visualize common financial, statistical and hierarchical data. But they feel unfinished and need to evolve a bit more to compete with other offerings.
  • Troy: Ivy charts display in legacy versions as uneditable .png images.



  • Troy: Concept and actual use are pretty amazing, but limited to Microsoft templates, so not something we use at TLC. The pop out Designer pane can be annoying – see the The PowerPoint Blog post about how to turn off Designer (link below in Resources).
  • Sandy: One interesting new addition is Designer is able to recognize bulleted text that can be converted into a visual timeline and give a few layout options for it.



  • Nolan: Icons are not on the Mac version yet.
  • Sandy: Icons are actual art that can be recolored, and a trick is to use Merge Shapes of an icon and a PowerPoint shape to make it an editable graphic, ungroup (?).
  • Troy: I think the addition of an icon library directly in PowerPoint for all users to leverage was a great addition. I do feel that any static set of images, like these icons, will become dated in a few years if Microsoft does not expand or update the offering over time .


Icons are also the quick way to know you have SVG image support

  • Troy: SVG or “Scalable Vector Graphic” is a huge addition to PowerPoint. Vector is Adobe Illustrator and PowerPoint shapes. All elements that can be resized small to huge from same small file size image. PowerPoint needed a full vector image format to be realistic in today’s design and SVG is providing that.
    • SVG support needs to continue to expand in Office apps to become a true full featured option – which I am hopeful is going to happen.
  • Nolan: Can’t ungroup SVG images yet in PowerPoint.
  • Sandy: Use with caution. SVG is new to Office and can still be an issue for many users on legacy versions.


3D Support

  • Troy: This alone is reason to move to O365. We, TLC Creative, have the opportunity to use 3D models on so many projects and I am really excited about this. Microsoft recently revealed new on-slide animations coming to 3D models, so the 3D support and features are continuing to get better really quickly.
  • Sandy: 3D models can be an accent graphic, or the corporate logo, not just animation tricks, they can be a part of real slide content.


Other O365 features outside of PowerPoint


  • Troy: SharePoint was really daunting before 2010, but we have a very integrated use of SharePoint at TLC with several shared calendars, tons of central information, and it is not the “program an app” type of SharePoint, it is all the very helpful shared information type of SharePoint. I would probably have found a different solution for our shared information needs if SharePoint was not integrated into Office 365.
  • Nolan: I am not using it.
  • Sandy: I am not making use of SharePoint (yet).



  • Nolan: Again, there is a difference between OneDrive Individual and OneDrive for Business.
  • Troy: We use virtually every online file transfer option out there depending on what our client uses. OneDrive has only been used or requested a handful of times so far. Our biggest use of OneDrive for Business is documents hosted on SharePoint (which I believe is technically all OneDrive for Business).
  • Sandy: While I have access to OneDrive for Business (I subscribe for the email capabilities with my business partners), I use the personal version of OneDrive for its ease of use and have all of my current project files on OneDrive.


Email – Outlook

  • Office 365 email includes not only Outlook, but an exchange server with 25 MB attachments, 50 GB inbox, and the ability to setup email on virtually any device; desktop, IOS and Android mobile devices, web-based access. Including email on every device syncs to the exchange server, so if you send an email on your desktop with Outlook, you seamlessly see the reply on your phone.
  • Troy: Email was the primary reason I moved us to Office 365, it is fantastic.
  • Sandy: I love it!
  • Nolan: I am using Microsoft email, but through a separate email only account, so maybe I am paying for the same thing twice – but it works great for me.


What about Microsoft Teams?

  • Troy: We are experimenting with Teams. It is another O365 subscription feature and we use it for certain projects with a dedicated calendar, OneNote, shared file folder – but the real reason is it (the Team and all of its files and info) can be shared with anyone outside of TLC.
    • Note: For internal stuff, we have been using Groups, another O365 option, for at least a year.  We have a central email inbox, which is a Group, that everyone can see in their Outlook, so everyone gets emails sent to it. For example, when a file is uploaded to our Box, DropBox, Hightail, etc. account, the notice is sent to a special Group and everyone gets the notice that a new file has been sent.
  • Sandy: I am not using Team yet.
  • Nolan: I was completely unaware of Microsoft Teams.


Skype for Business

  • Sandy: We should note that Skype and Skype for Business are very different apps. With Office 365, we are talking about Skype for Business. I use it, but only with certain clients and Microsoft.
  • Troy: I know I am a minority, but I really like Skype for Business. We use it to see who on the team is online and available, use it for instant messaging and file transfers. If it was not included with Office 365, we would be using something else that does not integrate into other Office apps as seamlessly.
  • Nolan: Our MVP calls with Microsoft are Skype for Business are really the only time I am using it.




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