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Use Office 365 Groups to consolidate collaboration efforts and simplify the Office 365 user experience

On September 25, 2014, Jared Spataro, General Manager of Enterprise Social published a post titled Delivering the first chapter of Groups in Office 365. With this post, and the short video embedded within it, Microsoft presented a new method for Office 365 consumers to use to collect users into groups.

As Jared Spataro points out in his post, it’s not as if this type of method was at all lacking across the various components of the Office 365 tools. Lync, Outlook, and Yammer all offer methods of collecting users into teams and then pooling files, calendars, etc. The opposite is the case. There are too many ways to group users. So it is safe to say Microsoft built Office 365 groups to reduce the confusion and complexity of online collaboration.

Office 365 Groups inherit the group calendar and inbox features of Team Sites. The Office 365 Groups Landing Page presents detail over and above the information in Jared Spataro’s post. Group scheduling and the option to share files are defined and emphasized.

For anyone using Google +, the membership process for Office 365 public groups will be very familiar. No need to apply for membership, anyone can join a public group. Group participants can collaborate when they are out of office, as long as they can access Outlook Web App from mobile devices. The Office 365 Groups landing page includes set up instructions for iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as instructions as to how group participants can connect to their groups with only a web browser from a PC.

SharePoint administrators can use the Admin Center in Office 365 to manage Groups. The documentation cites four types of groups:

  • Group
  • Security Group
  • Mail-enabled Security Group
  • Distribution List

It’s important to note “With the exception of security groups, the global admin can’t create groups in the Groups section of the Office 365 admin center at this time.” So groups must be created by users from either “Outlook, People, Calendar, or OneDrive”. Nevertheless, Administrators can certainly manage groups via the Admin Center.

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