Microsoft starts rolling out Delve, its 'Flipboard for Office 365'

Microsoft is kicking off its multi-month staged rollout of Delve, a new Office 365 search and presentation application.

delverolloutbegins
Image: Microsoft

Starting Monday, Microsoft is beginning to roll out Office Delve — its  Flipboard -like service for Office 365 — to Office 365 business users.

Delve,  codenamed "Oslo," is a new internal search and presentation application that Microsoft executives first unveiled earlier this year.

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Delve displays information based on "the work they are doing and the people with whom they are engaging," in a card-like user interface. With Delve, the idea is users won't have to remember where their information is stored or who shared it. That information will be surfaced for users automatically, but only when the appropriate permissions are granted.

Delve uses Microsoft's internally built Office Graph to ascertain relationship between people, content and activity across Office 365. Microsoft officials have said Delve is just the first app that will make use of Office Graph information.

With the initial release, Delve will present information from Exchange, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online and Yammer enterprise-social networking components.

Over the coming months it will enable Delve to discover information from more content sources, including email attachments, OneNote and Lync, officials said in a September 8 blog post.

In calendar 2015, Microsoft officials have committed to extending Delve with application programming interfaces (APIs) that will open it up to customers who aren't running exclusively on Office 365, a spokesperson told me. "We also have plans for hybrid support for Office Graph, but we are not sharing timing," the spokesperson said in response to a question I had on Delve support beyond Office 365.

Microsoft plans to roll out Delve to Office 365 users in phases. Both new and existing Office 365 business users will get Delve as part of their subscriptions, but Office 365 Personal and Office 365 Home Premium users will not.

The first to get it will be Office 365 E, A and G plan business users who opted into Microsoft's Office 365 First Release program. Then, Delve will be rolling out to all Office 365 business users. The first to get it will be those with Office 365 E1 to E4 subscription plans, as well as the corresponding A2 to A4 Academic and G1 to G4 Government plans.

(First Release, for those who need a refresher, is an opt-in program via which administrators can enable a subset of their users to receive certain significant service updates a couple of weeks earlier than the rest of their users get them. First Release is meant to help users head off compatibility and other issues earlier in the Office 365 deployment process.)

Beginning in January 2015, Microsoft will be rolling out Delve to Office 365 Business Essentials, Business Premium, Office 365 Small Business, Small Business Premium and Midsize Business plans. Those in these plans who signed up for First Release will get Delve first, starting in January.

Microsoft officials said they expect the Delve rollout to be complete for all eligible Office 365 users by early 2015.

Meanwhile, speaking of Office 365, Microsoft last week made some changes to its Office 365 deployment strategy that are worth a mention.

At its Worldwide Partner Conference earlier this year, Microsoft execs said the company would be performing directly more customer onboarding than it had previously — a revelation that worried some of its reseller partners. Last week, the company went public with more details on that onboarding. Specifically, Microsoft is making changes to its FastTrack program that will result in free email migration to Office 365 from Exchange Server, Lotus Domino, Google Gmail and/or IMAP accessible environments for customers purchasing 150 seats or more.

As part of the changes, Microsoft has created an Office 365 FastTrack Onboarding Center, which it is making available to customers and their "preferred partners." The Onboarding Center "will support the provisioning and configuration of Office 365 workloads including Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Office 365 Pro Plus, and Yammer."

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