HOUSTON: Microsoft will bring improved cross-platform support and security services to Office 365 in a move that should make the cloud-based productivity suite more attractive to firms that need to cater for Android and iOS users.
The company unveiled a series of Office 365 updates designed to improve Microsoft applications' cross-platform management, development and security services during its TechEd 2014 conference.
One of the biggest announcements was the integration of Microsoft's Intune cloud management solution with its Enterprise Mobility Suite later this year.
Microsoft Office general manager Julia White said the move will improve IT managers' ability to manage Microsoft Office 365 services, including Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel and the Outlook Web App, running on non-Windows ecosystems, like Apple iOS and Google Android.
"Some of you may remember we announced Office for iPad recently. Today we're developing that offering. Office 365 and Intune allow mobile device management on our apps on multiple ecosystems. It means you can apply policies on apps being used for business purposes and control where corporate data resides on devices," she said.
"For example, say I get a file sent to me via email and I need to open it for work. Now when I click on it using an iPad it will only let me open it using applications that have been approved by IT."
Microsoft announced it will also be rolling out enhanced encryption to Office 365 customers from the beginning of July. The upgrade will enable users to encrypt any file stored on Microsoft's SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business services, meaning work data should stay secure even if the device running the application is lost, stolen or hacked.
White said as an added layer of assurance the data will be encrypted using an individual unique key owned by the customer.
Microsoft corporate vice president Brad Anderson said the Office 365 update was based on feedback from customers who want to see increased support for Windows services on competing ecosystems.
"Every IT manager I speak to says, 'If only I had Outlook on the iPad or, if only I had Outlook on Android'. That's why we're bringing Office applications on iPad under management," he said.
Microsoft's Office 365 upgrades come during a wider push by the company to improve its products' security and BYOD appeal that saw it announce a wave of security improvements to its Azure cloud platform earlier at TechEd.
Protecting data stored on smart devices is a growing challenge for enterprise IT managers. Research from PwC and the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) found cyber attacks are costing UK firms £1.15m per data breach in April.
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