Introducing Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit — a solution to launch and scale your freelance workforce

With increasing participation in the gig economy—the contingent labor market made up of independent workers who contract for short-term engagements—enterprises are beginning to test and include freelance talent to support projects. According to the Future Workforce Report, 47 percent of hiring managers at enterprise organizations utilized freelancers (up from 44 percent the prior year), while roughly 9 in 10 hiring managers say they are open to engaging freelancers rather than temporary workers through a staffing firm. To help enterprises digitally transform or complement their conventional contingent staff solutions, we’re launching Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit, a curated set of tools, templates, and best practices to help our customers launch, execute, and manage freelance programs at scale. 

The gig economy, which includes freelancers, consultants, contractors, and solopreneurs, is on the rise. According to Staffing Industry Analysts, the total spent on gig work in 2015 was $792 billion. Experts believe that within 10 years a larger proportion of the U.S. workforce will participate in the gig economy. In addition, according to Field Nation, 86 percent of independent workers intentionally choose freelancing.

The implications for enterprise companies are profound. To thrive in a highly competitive environment with rapidly changing technology and customer needs, enterprises must be agile and adapt to new business models to get work done with external talent. While adding on-demand freelance talent to the mix offers measurable results in speed and efficiency, the path to transforming existing policies and processes is largely undefined.

Our launch partner for this toolkit is Upwork, one of the largest online global marketplaces with over 375,000 freelancers in over 180 countries. We specifically are partnering with Upwork Enterprise, their end-to-end compliance and freelance talent sourcing solution.

The Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit offers solutions for the main friction points enterprises encounter when deploying a freelance program, including: internal communications and awareness, team-wide collaboration, data analytics, and workflow automation.

Internal communications and awareness

One of the major challenges of launching an enterprise freelance program is driving awareness and education among internal stakeholders and adopters. Employees need a place where they can get started to learn how the program works, access required training, and review best practices for engaging with freelancers.

Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit solves for this with the SharePoint communication site template—a “one-stop shop” for program details to help accelerate freelance adoption and onboarding, including:

  • Repository for relevant documentation and presentations about the program.
  • Use cases to show employees the kinds of projects they can get done with freelancers.
  • FAQs seeded with the top questions from enterprise employees.
  • An engagement template to help you connect with freelancers in the SharePoint expert talent pool.

See our SharePoint communication site infographic to learn more.

Team-wide collaboration

The nature of enterprise freelance projects requires team members to collaborate on multiple files, manage varied tasks, and communicate across time zones. To keep cross-functional, multi-geographical teams moving in the same direction, the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit provides guidance around using Microsoft Teams as a powerful hub for teamwork that brings chats, meetings, calls, files, and apps into one shared workspace.

With Teams, enterprises can manage their freelance communication and collaboration needs, specifically through:

  • Communication—Public and private teams for members to engage in discussion.
  • Task management—One place to track progress and align each team member’s workflow via integration with project management tools like Microsoft Planner.
  • File storage—One place to store shared files and retrieve them through intelligent search.
  • External guest access—The ability for external users worldwide to collaborate in all aspects of freelance projects through the free version of Teams.
  • Security—External guest access to project-specific teams keeps your information safe without giving wholesale access.

See our Teams infographic to learn more.

Data analytics

A major challenge in scaling an enterprise freelance program is capturing, tracking, and communicating performance KPIs. The Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit leverages Microsoft Power BI, a business analytics service that deliver insights by collecting real-time data from multiple sources, simplifying data prep, and producing customized, easy-to-understand reports and dashboards.

Power BI helps enterprise program managers to:

  • Make data-driven decisions.
  • Compare freelance program results to conventional staffing solutions.
  • Identify the teams within your organization currently leveraging freelance talent by discipline type to help identify future opportunities within your company.

To enhance the core functionality of Power BI for a freelance environment, the freelance toolkit offers:

  • A Power BI template with sample visualizations.
  • A Power BI connector to pull data from disparate sources into dashboards.
  • An engagement template to help you connect with freelancers in the Power BI talent pool.

See our Power BI infographic to learn more.

Workflow automation

An enterprise freelance program requires provisioning, compliance, and monitoring, all while providing a frictionless process for your employees. To reduce the need for manual completion of repetitive tasks, Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit uses Microsoft Flow to create automated workflows between apps and services that send notifications, synchronize files, and collect data.

For example, Microsoft Flow can help business decision makers automate the following scenarios:

  • Employee training and compliance. By visiting the freelance program SharePoint communication site, employees can sign up for the pilot by completing a compliance training video supported by Microsoft Stream.
  • Internal community signup. After an employee completes the compliance training video, the employee is automatically added to an internal Teams channel where employees can collaborate with others who are part of the program and share experiences.
  • Upwork account creation. After the employee is added to the Teams channel, their account information, which includes their name and email address, is sent to Upwork for account creation on their platform, so they can start posting jobs on the platform.

In addition to core Microsoft Flow functionality, the freelance toolkit offers:

  • Case studies to show how you can use Microsoft Flow within an enterprise freelance program.
  • An engagement template to help you connect with freelancers in the Microsoft Flow talent pool.

See our Microsoft Flow infographic to learn more.

Our journey and what we learned

Like many of our customers, Microsoft is also in the process of navigating how to responsibly weave freelance engagements into our enterprise environment. Over the past year, we completed over 2,000 freelance projects across writing, research, video editing, translation, design, and data science—spanning 25 internal teams and hundreds of employees.

But getting to this point was not easy—we had to internally transform ourselves, and we needed to build an infrastructure that could support the complexities of an enterprise freelance program. This led us to develop the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit, which combines our leading enterprise productivity apps with curated tools, templates, and best practices to address the specific needs of enterprise freelance programs. The work has paid off. To date, we’ve seen measurable cost and time savings.

Get started

Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit is available for no additional cost as part of an Office 365 Enterprise or Microsoft 365 Enterprise subscription. Learn more about Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit and a Microsoft 365 Enterprise subscription.

Please note: Each enterprise will need to evaluate and determine its own needs—including such things as data handling and compliance requirements—and should use their existing Microsoft 365 investments they determine appropriate.

Learn more about the freelance toolkit journey with Upwork.

New to Microsoft 365 in November: Tools to keep you in your workflow and fine-tune content

This month, we released new features in Microsoft 365 that help users stay focused in their workflow while delivering richer, more engaging content.

Here’s a look at what’s new in November.

Stay in your flow of work

We’re launching new capabilities in Microsoft 365 to help simplify common tasks in your workflow and save you time.

Keep track of to-dos and collaborate with others with new AI features in Word—Now you can more easily focus on your writing when working in Word. When you type a to-do item, like TODO: finish this section or <<insert closing here>>, Word recognizes and tracks them as to-dos. When you come back to the document, you’ll see a list of your remaining to-dos, and you can click each one to navigate back to the right spot. Additionally, when you @mention someone within a to-do, Word emails them a notification with a “deep link” to the relevant place in the document. This new capability is available today in preview for Word on the Mac for Office Insiders, with availability for all Office 365 subscribers coming soon.

Animated screenshot of a Word document open using the AI-powered To-Do feature.

Perform more tasks on the go with new features for Microsoft Teams on iOS and Android—The updated Teams mobile app now empowers you to be more productive on the go with features like the ability to schedule meetings and search for colleagues within your organization’s directory. With Quiet Hours, you can focus on other activities with greater control over push notifications. These features are available now via the Teams mobile app.

Image of a phone screen displaying Microsoft Teams, with quiet hours set from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.

Manage tasks without breaking your email flow in Outlook on the web—The updated Tasks feature in the new Outlook on the web now lets you create a task by dragging and dropping an email into your Tasks pane or easily schedule a task by dragging it from the Tasks pane to your calendar. Your tasks then travel with you on the To-Do app. The new Tasks pane capability will start rolling out to customers who opt in to the new Outlook on the web in December 2018.

Animated screenshot of tasks being added in Outlook on the web.

More ways to sign in to Outlook on the web—We listened to your feedback about wanting an easier way to sign in to Outlook on the web. Starting in December, users with an Office 365 account who use Outlook on the web can now sign in to their work or school accounts through When a user signs in through, Outlook redirects them to their organization’s sign-in page, which is pre-populated with the email address they entered. From there, they just follow their organization’s sign-in process.

An animated image showing a user signing in to

Create richer, more engaging content

We’re introducing new intelligence capabilities in Microsoft 365 to help users create richer content within PowerPoint.

Improve your writing with Editor in PowerPoint—Editor leverages machine learning and natural language processing to provide an intelligent proofing and editing service that delivers recommendations in context. For example, Editor highlights and provides suggestions to fix awkward word choices and incorrect grammar and offers guidance on clarity and conciseness. Editor in PowerPoint will be available to all users with an Office 365 subscription beginning December 2018.

An animated image showing the new Editor feature in PowerPoint.

Engage your audience with interactive forms and quizzes in PowerPoint—Microsoft Forms is now integrated with PowerPoint for Office 365, providing a seamless way for speakers, trainers, and educators to connect and interact with participants. Now, presenters can get real-time audience feedback via forms and quizzes without asking them to leave PowerPoint. To get started, in PowerPoint under Insert, click the Forms icon to create a new form/quiz or insert one you’ve already created.

Other updates

  • Today, we unveiled redesigned Office app icons to honor the heritage of Office and welcome in the future. These app icons provide flexible visuals that reflect product changes and the new ways in which people are working.
  • AI features like facial detection to identify speakers in videos, speech-to-text and closed captions, and transcript search and timecodes are now available to all Office 365 Enterprise, Firstline Worker, and Education plans through Microsoft Stream.
  • You can now use Windows Hello or a FIDO2 device to sign in to your Microsoft account on the Edge browser instead of using a username and password.
  • The Office Customization Tool is now available, enabling IT pros to easily customize deployment of Office 365 ProPlus and other Click-to-Run managed Office products using a simple, intuitive, and web-based interface.

EMCOR Group transitions to the cloud, constructs intelligent workplace with Microsoft 365

The EMCOR logo.

Today’s post was written by Peter Baker, senior director of information technology at EMCOR Group.

Profile picture of Peter Baker, senior director of information technology at EMCOR Group.A good way to describe the culture at EMCOR is to reference the many awards we’ve received for excellent customer service and safety. We provide mechanical and electrical construction, industrial and energy infrastructure, and facilities services to commercial, industrial, utility, and institutional customers around the world. For 10 consecutive years, EMCOR has been named among the top five “World’s Most Admired Companies” in the Engineering and Construction Industry by Fortune, and in 2018, EMCOR was ranked #1. Our IT team concentrates on helping employees build on that culture of customer-focused service and safety, so we can continue to differentiate ourselves from the competition and serve customers with excellence.

We stand out by taking advantage of the latest opportunities for IT advancements—when it makes sense for our business. That’s why we turned to cloud computing now. Cloud-based solutions are typically more cost-competitive than on-premises solutions. In addition, we want to reduce the administrative burden of on-premises solutions so that IT staff can focus on business-critical areas. For example, we will be able to collaborate more effectively across multiple divisions and business units using Microsoft 365 cloud-based workplace services. It’s easier for our employees to share information with each other, customers, and suppliers. Also, a modern, intelligent workplace helps EMCOR compete for talent among today’s younger workforce.

We chose Microsoft because we felt it has the most comprehensive set of cloud-based components for a large enterprise. EMCOR needs enterprise-class messaging, applications, infrastructure, mobile security, collaboration tools, document management solutions, and governance capabilities. Microsoft offered the widest array of integrated solutions for each of those areas.

In making the transition from an on-premises IT organization to a cloud-friendly IT organization, one of our biggest anticipated benefits is that we’ll have a more standardized IT infrastructure that’s easier to support and secure. Microsoft fully supports our commitment to security and data privacy as defined by internal and customer-driven requirements. With solutions such as Microsoft Azure Key Vault, EMCOR can encrypt its data and control the encryption keys. This was a major differentiator for us. Also, we plan to use Azure Information Protection P2, a component of Enterprise Mobility + Security, along with Customer Lockbox for Office 365—a deal maker for moving to the cloud—shortly after our pilot project. Enabling Customer Lockbox is a must for EMCOR because it helps us meet our customers requirement that we control access to their data. We’re in the early stages of configuring our tenant, and so far things are going well.

As a result of moving to a Microsoft cloud platform, EMCOR has a much closer business relationship with Microsoft. We’re counting on Microsoft to remain the leader in enterprise-class, cloud-based messaging and workplace tools. Meanwhile, the total set of capabilities we gain with Microsoft 365 E3 provides value. EMCOR obtains multiple software and service elements wrapped in a single unified price, and all services and software will remain current and fully patched with little effort on our part. This frees our IT staff to focus on issues more critical to supporting revenue generation and business operations.


ERM contributes to a more sustainable future with Microsoft 365

Today’s post was written by Richard Zotov, Group CIO at ERM.

The sustainability industry addresses the complex balancing act between supporting socioeconomic development and ensuring the healthy future of our environment and our communities. ERM employees are passionate about helping to shape a sustainable future with the world’s leading organizations. We work with the majority of Fortune 500 companies, whose activities—from drilling oil to discovering the next miracle drug—have an enormous impact on us all. Because sustainability means something different for every customer, like exploring clean energy sources or guaranteeing an ethical supply chain, ERM employees must be skilled, flexible, and agile in how they approach each engagement.

It is my goal as CIO to make sure this amazing group of more than 5,000 individuals have the best tools at their disposal as they collaborate in creative teams across 40 countries to help our customers achieve their unique business and sustainability goals. So we made the strategic decision to harness technology and data to digitalize and transform how we work. That’s when we deployed Microsoft 365 across our entire organization, from administrators in our 160 offices to mobile consultants gathering data in the field. Today, ERM employees have new tools to work faster, better, and safer, accelerating the positive, global impact of the work we do.

Now that everyone uses the same Microsoft 365 toolkit to collaborate, harness data, and streamline operations, we have a unified foundational layer for our new workplace culture. We’re connecting our entire business to be more efficient. And when it comes to security, we can meet our customers’ high standards and enhance the credibility of our security position with the Microsoft cloud platform.

This workplace transformation is really a two-pronged approach to remaining at the forefront of the sustainability industry. First, we harness technology and data to accelerate our sustainability and environmental health and safety services. The second involves looking at how we develop new revenue streams as an offshoot of our newly digitalized way of doing business.

With Microsoft 365, we are making headway with the first goal. It’s part of an enterprise-wide push to focus on exceptional customer value. For example, we have technologically transformed how we collect, store, and manage data during site investigation, one of our biggest service lines. Onsite data collection used to be a laborious manual process. Today, we use Microsoft 365 to help digitalize data collection—consultants take tablets into the field for data input and upload it for storage in the Microsoft cloud where it’s available in real-time for colleagues to analyze back at the office. Now our customers receive our reports in easily consumable Power BI dashboards, as opposed to lengthy write-ups, and we’re delivering insightful data into the hands of our customers faster.

As we gain experience in transforming our service lines using Microsoft cloud services, among others, we’ll be in a better position to explore new digital opportunities that help add value to the work we do for customers. This strategy will keep us at the leading edge of technology innovation and help maintain our competitive advantage.

As we work with the intelligent tools within the Microsoft 365 cloud platform, we empower our employees to deliver value to our customers—helping them achieve that balance between doing business and being a conscious steward of the environment. It’s great to know that ERM is adding to the global dialogue on sustainability, contributing to a healthier future for the planet.

—Richard Zotov

Read the ERM case study for more on their move to a modern workplace with Microsoft 365.


Collaborate more easily, keep track of to-dos with new AI features in Word

Focus is a simple but powerful thing. When you’re in your flow, your creativity takes over, and your work is effortless. When you’re faced with distractions and interruptions, progress is slow and painful. And nowhere is that truer than when writing.

Word has long been the standard for creating professional-quality documents. Technologies like Editor—Word’s AI-powered writing assistant—make it an indispensable tool for the written word. But at some point in the writing process, you’ll need some information you don’t have at your fingertips, even with the best tools. When this happens, you likely do what research tells us many Word users do: leave a placeholder in your document and come back to it later to stay in your flow.

Today, we’re starting to roll out new capabilities to Word that help users create and fill in these placeholders without leaving the flow of their work. For example, type TODO: finish this section or <<insert closing here>> and Word recognizes and tracks them as to-dos. When you come back to the document, you’ll see a list of your remaining to-dos, and you can click each one to navigate back to the right spot.

Screenshot of a Word document open using the AI-powered To-Do feature.

Once you’ve created your to-dos, Word can also help you complete them. If you need help from a friend or coworker, just @mention them within a placeholder. Word sends them a notification with a “deep link” to the relevant place in the document. Soon, they’ll be able to reply to the notification with their contributions, and those contributions will be inserted directly into the document—making it easy to complete the task with an email from any device.

Over time, Office will use AI to help fill in many of these placeholders. In the next few months, Word will use Microsoft Search to suggest content for a to-do like <<insert chart of quarterly sales figures>>. You will be able to pick from the results and insert content from another document with a single click.

These capabilities are available today for Word on the Mac for Office Insiders (Fast) as a preview. We’ll roll these features out to all Office 365 subscribers soon for Word for Windows, the Mac, and the web.

Get started as an Office for Mac Insider

Office Insider for Mac has two speeds: Insider Fast and Insider Slow. To get access to this and other new feature releases, you’ll need a subscription to Office 365. To select a speed, open Microsoft Auto Update and on the Help menu select Check for Updates.

As always, we would love to hear from you, please send us your thoughts at UserVoice or visit us on Twitter or Facebook. You can also let us know how you like the new features by clicking the smiley face icon in the upper-right corner of Word.


Microsoft 365 helps pharma giant Eli Lilly deliver on promise to make life better for patients everywhere

Today’s post was written by Mike Meadows, vice president and chief technology officer at Eli Lilly and Company.

We have an expression at Lilly that inspires our workforce every day: the patient is waiting. This mindset informs our culture, encourages us to work faster, and helps us deliver on the promise to make life better for patients everywhere. It’s behind everything we do at Lilly—from chasing a molecule in a lab to developing new ways to engage with patients, and even troubleshooting a server or network issue.

Our challenge continues to be the discovery of new therapies and accelerating their time-to-market. The process is too slow—and while clearly difficult and complex, our ability to get faster is key. We need to forge new partnerships, comply with a complex regulatory environment, keep quality and safety at the forefront, and reduce costs. All of these seemingly conflicting elements put significant pressure on how we fulfill our promise.

Lilly is responding to these challenges with new thinking across our business process cycle. Through discovery research, product development, manufacturing, and customer engagement, we are working on next-generation capabilities to improve our speed and productivity.

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Our workplace environment, and how we interact with one another, is certainly not exempt from such transformation, and in part will be supported by Microsoft 365 cloud technologies. We could see that Microsoft has made great strides in its own transformation to better meet customer needs, and that certainly played a role in our interest in Microsoft technologies for our own workplace transformation goals.

Fostering seamless collaboration and creative teamwork globally is key as we need different ideas to come together to generate new capabilities and products. That’s basically the definition of innovation, and innovation is our lifeblood. With facilities around the world in research and development (R&D), manufacturing, and administrative services, our ability to collaborate across diverse cultures, ways of thinking, and languages has a huge impact on accelerating our product innovation workstreams and our promise to patients.

We’ve been using Microsoft Exchange Online and Office apps for years, but the enhanced interoperation between tools like Microsoft Teams and innovative devices such as Surface Hub and HoloLens has the potential to take collaboration to the next level.

In discovery research today, we have two primary working environments: the laboratory, where scientists in lab coats conduct their experiments in isolation from their colleagues; and the traditional office space occupied by administration and leadership. Not much collaboration happens in real time between these environments. If a scientist has a brilliant idea in the lab, to act on it or share it with colleagues requires them to stop what they’re doing, take off their gear, and return to the office to phone or email someone.

We envision dissolving these physical barriers through something we call “in-lab collaboration”—putting communication and collaboration tools inside our labs that empower scientists to share a creative spark with other scientists across the globe, or with the clinical development manager just upstairs. Using Surface Hubs to whiteboard ideas, making Office 365 video calls, and chatting in real-time through Teams foster innovation at scale and can help ensure that great ideas don’t get lost.

In today’s healthcare environment, we’re working more and more with innovators outside the company itself. We’re looking at new scenarios where Lilly might run experiments in a cost-effective arrangement called “lab-as-a-service,” where we can quickly and seamlessly leverage specialty labs in a lease-like manner from partners as needed, thus expediting R&D. Increasingly, as we follow the science to new experimental designs and new therapeutic technologies (CAR T-cell therapy, cancer vaccines, digital therapeutics, etc.), we are less focused on building durable, static labs. Instead, dynamically accessing elastic lab capabilities will empower our evolving R&D strategy. Our new cloud-based collaboration solutions will go a long way toward supporting virtual teamwork with providers outside our walls.

When we collaborate efficiently, it drives productivity by helping us to work faster. One of the most significant benefits of working faster at Lilly will revolve around effectively changing our workplace processes to use Teams day to day throughout the enterprise. We are conducting approximately 300 Teams pilot projects around the world within IT, research, and marketing departments. When communication channels are oriented to particular project workflows, documents are all in one place. We can add creative flows with team members around the world, opening up collaborative possibilities at Lilly. Teams also facilitates coauthoring—a significant benefit given the abundance of documentation this industry requires. Whenever we can spend less time redlining and passing around versions among people, there will be an efficiency gain in running the business.

As a technologist, I’m always seeking these opportunities for positive change in our work habits. Looking back to when we deployed Exchange Online, we migrated over 70,000 mailboxes for our employees and collaborators in less than nine months with a seamless transition—which also provided them with nearly unlimited storage to improve their work lives. I think we can generate more successes like that with Microsoft 365. We expect that Windows 10, with its ongoing updates and new capabilities, will be a case in point. Additionally, the AI capabilities that are built into Office 365, even for something as routine as automating how we schedule meetings, could be a boon to our culture.

And when it comes to regulatory compliance and security, I have believed for years that we have the opportunity to be more compliant and secure in the cloud, rather than less. The capabilities we see in the Microsoft Cloud environment are the latest confirmation of these instincts. Complying with the regulatory requirements in the life science industry is always a given at Lilly, but Microsoft 365 security features help improve how we meet data privacy and quality requirements. “Security and quality by design” is one of our IT strategy principles, and the Microsoft Cloud is clearly aligned.

A few years ago, Lilly went through a significant period of patent expiration that challenged our business like never before. Our CEO at the time inspired us to double down on innovation, and today we have a strong pipeline of new molecules to help deliver on our purpose. Our current CEO is inspiring an increased sense of teamwork, speed, and productivity. Using services within Microsoft 365 is one component of that drive and will help put us in an even better position to continue the innovation required to deliver on our promise to patients everywhere.

—Mike Meadows


Goodyear mobilizes with Microsoft 365 to lead in a new mobility ecosystem

Today’s post was written by Sherry Neubert, chief information officer at The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.

Goodyear has a 120-year history of being at the forefront of an ever-changing mobility industry. From bicycles, carriages, and the first Ford Model Ts off the production line, to blimps, airplanes, and even the first tire on the moon—Goodyear has always delivered innovative solutions that keep the world moving.

Today, our industry faces even more disruption through shifting consumer behaviors and expectations, digital transformation, and breakthroughs in technology that are accelerating change at speeds unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. This is creating a new mobility ecosystem shaped by shared mobility fleets, autonomous vehicles, connected vehicles, and electric vehicles.

Harnessing the power of our associates is key to competing—and continuing to lead—in this new world. With 64,000 associates selling products in around 150 countries, we need workplace productivity tools that enable innovation and bring together all of Goodyear’s diverse knowledge and capabilities. In 2014, we began to adopt Office 365 to modernize our workplace. Since then, we’ve empowered our associates worldwide with Microsoft 365 productivity and security tools and reached the halfway point in our global rollout of Windows 10. This cloud-connected modern desktop has given us the right tools to allow our teams to be as collaborative, agile, and productive as possible, while providing a highly secure digital environment.

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Enhancing collaboration is crucial to us for improved decision making and to drive innovation, both in tires and beyond tires. Connecting associates via Microsoft 365 tools such as Outlook, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, Yammer, and Skype for Business Online helps us take better advantage of our cross-functional and geographically dispersed teams. Our multigenerational and multicultural global workforce is now sharing perspectives and ideas more quickly and easily than ever.

Another focus for Goodyear is driving productivity and greater efficiencies so we can deliver the right products to the right place at the right time—faster than ever. With Microsoft 365, we stay connected and access shared content from anywhere, at any time, on any device, which allows us to innovate with greater speed. We also have an Internet of Things (IoT) proof of concept with Azure hosting big data from sensors in our factories. This allows us to use machine-learning capabilities to improve our predictive maintenance.

It is critically important for Goodyear to keep our information and systems safe so we can help protect our customers, associates, and the company and keep our focus on the changing needs of the marketplace. We safeguard our people, devices, data, and IP better with Windows 10 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. This has greatly improved our security capabilities, while at the same time continuously hardening our devices by providing updates as a service.

As our Microsoft 365 environment continues to mature, we’re evaluating the use of other Microsoft technologies. We’ve been using Microsoft HoloLens in exploration mode—it represents exciting possibilities for virtual tire modeling and design as well as remote knowledge transfer. We are also making strides advancing the AI infused in Microsoft 365, including Cortana, Azure-powered chatbots, and Focused Inbox, to amplify skills and democratize knowledge. The next big initiative on our horizon is adopting Microsoft Teams—we expect this to become our associates’ go-to social and collaboration platform.

The digital world is changing fast, and we must lead with digital innovation. For Goodyear, it’s all about how we can enable everyone in the company to put the customer at the center of everything we do and ensure that we maintain our leadership position in the new mobility ecosystem of tomorrow. When you find and deploy solutions that bring out the best in your people, the possibilities are endless.

—Sherry Neubert


10 new ways for everyone to achieve more in the modern workplace

It’s been over a year since we introduced Microsoft 365, the complete, intelligent, and secure solution that empowers employees to drive their organizations to future growth. Customers are seeking to transform and support a workforce that is more diverse and mobile than ever before, and they are relying on latest advancements in technology to do so. Customers such as Goodyear, Eli Lilly, and Fruit of the Loom use Microsoft 365 to empower their employees.

Microsoft 365 is growing quickly, built on the strength of more than 135 million commercial monthly Office 365 users. Windows 10 has approximately 200 million commercial devices in use, and there is an install base of over 82 million for Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). Today, at the Microsoft Ignite Conference in Orlando, Florida, we are introducing new capabilities in Microsoft 365 that make it possible for every person to do their best work.

1. Microsoft Teams is the fastest growing business app in Microsoft history

After less than two years in market, more than 329,000 organizations worldwide use Microsoft Teams, including 87 of the Fortune 100 companies. In fact, 54 customers now have more than 10,000 active users of Teams, and Accenture just crossed the 100,000 active-user mark in Teams. Further growth has been spurred by the recently announced free version of Teams.

We continue to add powerful new capabilities to foster teamwork and collaboration. New artificial intelligence (AI) powered meeting features are now generally available—including background blur and meeting recording. Background blur uses facial detection to blur your background during video meetings, and meeting recording allows you to playback recorded meeting content at any time with captions and a searchable, timecoded transcript.

General availability of new live event capabilities will begin to roll out worldwide in Microsoft 365 later this year. These new tools allow customers to create and stream live and on-demand events in Teams, Yammer and Microsoft Stream to inform and engage customers and employees, wherever they are. Beginning in October, employees can watch videos on the go with the Stream mobile app for iOS and Android, with support for offline viewing. And we’re working with our ecosystem of device partners to deliver new devices optimized for Teams meetings and calling, including the new Surface Hub 2. Surface Hub 2 is perfect for dynamic teamwork and features a light, sleek, and intelligent design that’s easy to move around and fit in any workspace. The first phase of Surface Hub 2, Surface Hub 2 S, will start shipping in the second quarter of 2019.

Animated image of a man blurring his background in Teams.

Blur your background during meetings.

2. Extend the power of Teams to empower workers in all roles and across industries

We are extending the power of Teams with new experiences that are tailored to industry-specific and role-based workflows. For example, new capabilities in Teams help empower Firstline Workers to do their best work. With new schedule management tools, managers can now create and share schedules, and employees can easily swap shifts, request time off, and see who else is working as well as important announcements. These new features will be available in October. As an example of how Teams can enable secure workflows for regulated industries, we’re delivering a new care coordination solution, now available in private preview, that gives healthcare teams a secure hub for coordinating care across multiple patients. It provides for integration with electronic health records (EHR) systems and enables care providers to communicate about patient care in real-time within Teams’ secure platform. We are also releasing two new secure messaging features with particular relevance in healthcare settingsimage annotation, now generally available, and priority notifications, which will roll out by the end of this year to all Teams commercial customers. These capabilities support HIPAA compliance and enable doctors, nurses, and other clinicians to communicate about patients while avoiding the privacy risks that arise when healthcare professionals use consumer chat apps.

Image of a mobile device creating an event in Microsoft Teams.

Easily swap shifts, request time off, and see who else is working.

3. Find what you need faster with Microsoft Search

Microsoft Search, a new cohesive search capability, makes it easier for you to find what you need without leaving the flow of your work. We’re putting the search box in a consistent, prominent place across Edge, Bing, Windows, and Office apps, so that search is always one click away. We’re also supercharging the search box so you can not only quickly find people and related content, but you can also access commands for apps and navigate to other content wherever you need to get work done—even before you start typing in the search box. Recognizing that you work in an ecosystem of information, we’re extending Microsoft Search to connect across your organization’s data, inside and outside of Microsoft 365. Learning from your everyday work patterns and acting as a brain for your organization, the Microsoft Graph personalizes your experiences everywhere. We’re pulling together the power of the Microsoft Graph and AI technology from Bing to deliver future experiences that are more relevant to what you are working on. This will include automatically answering questions such as “Can I bring my wife and kids on a work trip?” by using machine reading comprehension that takes knowledge of the world and pairs it with understanding of your organization’s documents. Preview the Microsoft Search capability it as it rolls out to,, and in the SharePoint mobile app today, with many more experiences to come in Edge, Windows, and Office.

Image shows Microsoft Search in

Find what you need faster with Microsoft Search.

4. Create content that stands out with Microsoft 365

Three new features in Microsoft 365 use the power of AI to help you create content that shines. Ideas is a new feature that follows along as you create a document and makes intelligent suggestions. In PowerPoint, Ideas recommends designs, layouts, and images. In Excel, Ideas recognizes trends, suggests charts, and identifies outliers in your data. Ideas will be generally available in Excel soon and will also begin rolling out in preview to the other apps starting with PowerPoint Online. Additionally, new data types in Excel turn references to stocks and geographies into rich entities that can be used to build powerful, interactive spreadsheets. The Stocks and Geography data typesgenerally available soonmake it easy to get updated stock prices, company information, population, area, and more. Finally, new image recognition capabilities in Excel take a picture of a hand-drawn or printed data table and turn it into an Excel spreadsheet, making data entry as easy as taking a picture.

Animated image shows a laptop open and Ideas being used in PowerPoint.

In PowerPoint, Ideas recommends designs, layouts, and images for your presentation.

5. Office loves the Mac

Office empowers everyone to achieve more on any device. And Office loves the Mac. We’re committed to the Mac as a first-class endpoint and have made significant investments in the platform over the past year—including moving the Mac and Windows versions of the apps onto a single code base and releasing new features for the Mac every month. We also tailored new experiences for the Mac, like the new Touch Bar integration.

Today, we’re announcing OneDrive Files On-Demand for Mac, a way to access all your personal and work files from the cloud in Finder without using storage space and only download them when you need them. Files On-Demand gives the Mac an intelligent connection to the cloud and is just one more example of the power of Office on the Mac platform. Preview it before it rolls out to all Mac users.

Image shows OneDrive Files On-Demand on an open Mac.

OneDrive Files On-Demand for Mac displays all your OneDrive files in Finder but only downloads them when you need them.

6. Work together with your entire network with LinkedIn in Outlook and Office web apps

We’re announcing two new ways to use the power of the LinkedIn network within your daily workflow. Soon, when you connect your LinkedIn account to Office 365, you’ll be able to coauthor documents with people in your LinkedIn network in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and send emails to them directly from Outlook. This brings your corporate directory and your LinkedIn network together, so you never lose touch with the contacts who can help you succeed, inside or outside your organization. You’ll also see LinkedIn highlights about the people in your meeting invites, providing you with insights about attendees, so you can prep for important meetings quickly and easily. These features help you focus on what’s important by providing information and connections directly in your flow of work and will be coming soon in a staged rollout.

7. Deliver a modern desktop with Azure

For many companies, the specific needs of their business demand a virtualized desktop experience. Today, we are introducing Windows Virtual Desktop, the only cloud-based service that delivers a multi-user Windows 10 experience, which is optimized for Office 365 ProPlus and includes free Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. With Windows Virtual Desktop, you can deploy and scale Windows and Office on Azure in minutes with built-in security and compliance. Sign up to be notified of the preview availability.

8. Manage your environment with the Microsoft 365 admin center

Following our recent release of the new Microsoft 365 admin center, we’re announcing new features to help you to monitor and manage applications, services, data, devices, and users across your Microsoft 365 subscriptions, including Office 365, Windows 10, and EMS. The Microsoft 365 admin center has several new capabilities to help you better manage your environment, including insight-based recommendations, a more consistent UI, and customized views for each of your admins. The public preview of these features is rolling out now to targeted release admins and soon to all admins. To get started, visit

Image shows the Microsoft 365 admin center on an open laptop.

Manage your environment more easily with the Microsoft 365 admin center.

9. Achieve modern compliance easily for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and more

In the world of complex regulations and evolving privacy standards, customers consistently tell us they need the built-in, intelligent capabilities of Microsoft 365 to proactively achieve compliance in their organizations. We’ve expanded Compliance Manager to now include 12 assessments across different industries. The unified labeling experience is also now available in the Security & Compliance Center as a single destination where you can create, configure, and automatically apply policies to ensure protection and governance of sensitive data.

Image shows the Compliance Manager on a tablet.

Compliance Manager now includes 12 assessments across different industries.

10. Advancing security for IT professionals

The work we do in security at Microsoft gives us the broadest perspective on the challenges and a unique ability to help. We focus on three areas: running security operations that work for you, building enterprise-class technology, and driving partnerships for a heterogeneous world. Today, we’re announcing several new enterprise-class capabilities that leverage the Microsoft intelligent cloud and operational learnings to help organizations secure their people, devices, and data.

New support for passwordless sign-in via the Microsoft Authenticator app is now available for the hundreds of thousands of Azure Active Directory connected apps that businesses use every day. Nearly all data loss starts with compromised passwords. Today, we are declaring an end to the era of passwords. No company lets enterprises eliminate more passwords than Microsoft.

Microsoft Secure Score is the only enterprise-class dynamic report card for cybersecurity. By using it, organizations get assessments and recommendations that typically reduce their chance of a breach by 30-fold. It guides you to take steps like securing admin accounts with Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), securing users accounts with MFA, and turning off client-side email forwarding rules. Starting today, we’re expanding Secure Score to cover all of Microsoft 365. We are also introducing Secure Score for your hybrid cloud workloads in the Azure Security Center, so you have full visibility across your estate.

Finally, we are announcing Microsoft Threat Protection, an integrated experience for detection, investigation, and remediation across endpoints, email, documents, identity, and infrastructure in the Microsoft 365 admin console. This will save analysts thousands of hours as they automate the more mundane security tasks.

Image shows Microsoft Secure Score in Microsoft 365 Security, on a tablet.

Microsoft Secure Score is expanding to cover all of Microsoft 365.

We look forward to bringing you these new ways to achieve more from unlocking creativity to advancing security. You can learn more about our announcements, see all of our Microsoft Ignite sessions live streaming or on-demand, and connect with experts on the Microsoft Tech Community.

Editor’s note 9/24/2018:
This post has been edited with updated information on the availability of Ideas and new data types in Excel.


Introducing 3 updates to help organizations make the shift to a modern desktop

IT is complex. And that means it can be difficult to keep up with the day-to-day demands of your organization, let alone deliver technological innovation that drives the business forward. In desktop management, this is especially true: the process of creating standard images, deploying devices, testing updates, and providing end user support hasn’t changed much in years. It can be tedious, manual, and time consuming. We’re determined to change that with our vision for a modern desktop powered by Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus. A modern desktop not only offers end users the most productive, most secure computing experience—it also saves IT time and money so you can focus on driving business results.

Today, we’re pleased to make three announcements that help you make the shift to a modern desktop:

  • Cloud-based analytics tools to make modern desktop deployment even easier.
  • A program to ensure app compatibility for upgrades and updates of Windows and Office.
  • Servicing and support changes to give you additional deployment flexibility.

Analytics to make modern desktop deployment easier

Collectively, you’ve told us that one of your biggest upgrade and update challenges is application testing. A critical part of any desktop deployment plan is analysis of existing applications—and the process of testing apps and remediating issues has historically been very manual and very time consuming. Microsoft 365 offers incredible tools today to help customers shift to a modern desktop, including System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune, Windows Analytics, and Office Readiness Toolkit. But we’ve felt like there’s even more we could do.

Today, we’re announcing that Windows Analytics is being expanded to Desktop Analytics—a new cloud-based service integrated with ConfigMgr and designed to create an inventory of apps running in the organization, assess app compatibility with the latest feature updates of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, and create pilot groups that represent the entire application and driver estate across a minimal set of devices.

The new Desktop Analytics service will provide insight and intelligence for you to make more informed decisions about the update readiness of your Windows and Office clients. You can then optimize pilot and production deployments with ConfigMgr. Combining data from your own organization with data aggregated from millions of devices connected to our cloud services, you can take the guess work out of testing and focus your attention on key blockers. We’ll share more information about Desktop Analytics and other modern desktop deployment tools at Ignite.

Standing behind our app compatibility promise

We’re also pleased to announce Desktop App Assure—a new service from Microsoft FastTrack designed to address issues with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus app compatibility. Windows 10 is the most compatible Windows operating system ever, and using millions of data points from customer diagnostic data and the Windows Insider validation process, we’ve found that 99 percent of apps are compatible with new Windows updates. So you should generally expect that apps that work on Windows 7 will continue to work on Windows 10 and subsequent feature updates. But if you find any app compatibility issues after a Windows 10 or Office 365 ProPlus update, Desktop App Assure is designed to help you get a fix. Simply let us know by filing a ticket through FastTrack, and a Microsoft engineer will follow up to work with you until the issue is resolved. In short, Desktop App Assure operationalizes our Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus compatibility promise: We’ve got your back on app compatibility and are committed to removing it entirely as a blocker.

Desktop App Assure will be offered at no additional cost to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education customers. We’ll share more details on this new service at Ignite and will begin to preview this service in North America on October 1, 2018, with worldwide availability by February 1, 2019.

Servicing and support flexibility

Longer Windows 10 servicing for enterprises and educational institutions
In April 2017, we aligned the Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus update cadence to a predictable semi-annual schedule, targeting September and March. While many customers—including Mars and Accenture—have shifted to a modern desktop and are using the semi-annual channel to take updates regularly with great success, we’ve also heard feedback from some of you that you need more time and flexibility in the Windows 10 update cycle.

Based on that feedback, we’re announcing four changes:

  • All currently supported feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions (versions 1607, 1703, 1709, and 1803) will be supported for 30 months from their original release date. This will give customers on those versions more time for change management as they move to a faster update cycle.
  • All future feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions with a targeted release month of September (starting with 1809) will be supported for 30 months from their release date. This will give customers with longer deployment cycles the time they need to plan, test, and deploy.
  • All future feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions with a targeted release month of March (starting with 1903) will continue to be supported for 18 months from their release date. This maintains the semi-annual update cadence as our north star and retains the option for customers that want to update twice a year.
  • All feature releases of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, and Office 365 ProPlus will continue to be supported for 18 months (this applies to feature updates targeting both March and September).

In summary, our new modern desktop support policies—starting in September 2018—are:

Windows 7 Extended Security Updates
As previously announced, Windows 7 extended support is ending January 14, 2020. While many of you are already well on your way in deploying Windows 10, we understand that everyone is at a different point in the upgrade process.

With that in mind, today we are announcing that we will offer paid Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. The Windows 7 ESU will be sold on a per-device basis and the price will increase each year. Windows 7 ESUs will be available to all Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Enterprise customers in Volume Licensing, with a discount to customers with Windows software assurance, Windows 10 Enterprise or Windows 10 Education subscriptions. In addition, Office 365 ProPlus will be supported on devices with active Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU) through January 2023. This means that customers who purchase the Windows 7 ESU will be able to continue to run Office 365 ProPlus.

Please reach out to your partner or Microsoft account team for further details.

Support for Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2016
Office 365 ProPlus delivers cloud-connected and always up-to-date versions of the Office desktop apps. To support customers already on Office 365 ProPlus through their operating system transitions, we are updating the Windows system requirements for Office 365 ProPlus and revising some announcements that were made in February. We are pleased to announce the following updates to our Office 365 ProPlus system requirements:

  • Office 365 ProPlus will continue to be supported on Windows 8.1 through January 2023, which is the end of support date for Windows 8.1.
  • Office 365 ProPlus will also continue to be supported on Windows Server 2016 until October 2025.

Office 2016 connectivity support for Office 365 services
In addition, we are modifying the Office 365 services system requirements related to service connectivity. In February, we announced that starting October 13, 2020, customers will need Office 365 ProPlus or Office 2019 clients in mainstream support to connect to Office 365 services. To give you more time to transition fully to the cloud, we are now modifying that policy and will continue to support Office 2016 connections with the Office 365 services through October 2023.

Shift to a modern desktop

You’ve been talking, and we’ve been listening. Specifically, we’ve heard your feedback on desktop deployment, and we’re working hard to introduce new capabilities, services, and policies to help you on your way. The combination of Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus delivers the most productive, most secure end user computing experience available. But we recognize that it takes time to both upgrade devices and operationalize new update processes. Today’s announcements are designed to respond to your feedback and make it easier, faster, and cheaper to deploy a modern desktop. We know that there is still a lot of work to do. But we’re committed to working with you and systematically resolving any issues. We’d love to hear your thoughts and look forward to seeing you and discussing in more detail in the keynotes and sessions at Ignite in a few weeks!


Schlumberger boosts global collaboration with Microsoft 365

The Schlumberger logo.

Profile picture of Ron Markezich.With more than 80 years of pioneering innovation in reservoir characterization, drilling, production, and exploration, Schlumberger is the leading provider of upstream products and services in the oil and gas industry. It’s a highly collaborative business, both internally, with more than 100,000 employees working in 85 countries, and externally, with the world’s leading global oil and gas customers depending on Schlumberger products and services. Moving data and expensive resources through a complex network of delivery systems calls for reliable, real-time collaboration and communication for all stakeholders. That’s one reason why standardizing on Microsoft 365 is a major step forward in the company’s strategy to harness the cloud and drive efficient customer service.

Recently, Schlumberger’s VP of Information Technology Sebastien Lehnherr had this to say about driving teamwork and productivity on a global scale:

“Operational efficiency and agility are requirements in a highly regulated service industry striving for performance and service quality. We use Microsoft 365 as a core element of our digital strategy—Microsoft Teams, Enterprise Mobility + Security, Power BI, and Windows 10 empower our employees globally with the intuitive, feature-rich tools that help them collaborate more efficiently and be more productive working in the office or while on the road.”

With highly secure, collaborative cloud apps at their fingertips, Schlumberger employees working in the field and at head offices in Paris, Houston, London, and The Hague are empowered by agile digital connections that accelerate service delivery and keep customers’ products moving to market. Unimpeded communication helps connect the big-picture expertise from Schlumberger’s leadership centers with local experience at production sites, adding value to customer relationships. We’re also excited to see how Schlumberger’s global Windows 10 deployment will add value to its Microsoft cloud business productivity platform.