Microsoft begins bundling Delve tool into Office 365


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Microsoft will begin integrating its "Oslo" content tool, now officially known as Delve, into its Office 365 subscription plans by January 2015, it said Monday.

Delve will roll out to new or existing customers of the Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium plans, as well as the Office 365 Small Business, Small Business Premium, and Midsize Business plans.

Unlike Word, PowerPoint and Excel, content creation isn't the point of Delve. Instead, Delve appears to be about content accumulation with an emphasis on relevancy. Instead of having to pore through a long list of email for a particular sales document, for example, Delve will simply pull together all the documents it believes are relevant to you. Likewise, Delve's business is to know the people you know, prioritizing those contacts and their activity.

It's all part of the "Office Graph" that underlies Delve, a technology Microsoft introduced in March. (Microsoft's Delve has nothing to do with this Windows quiz app, however.)

"Delve displays information that is most relevant for each person based on the work they are doing and the people with whom they are engaging," Julia White, the general manager of Office, said in a blog post. "With Delve, information finds you versus you having to find information."

Delve to get smarter over time

The Office Graph currently incorporates content and "signals" from email, OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, and Yammer, White said in her blog post. Over the coming months Delve will continue to accumulate more content sources, such as email attachments, OneNote, and Lync.

Delve will roll out to Office customers in phases. The very first group to receive it will likely be those who have signed up for the Office 365 E1–E4 subscription plans, or the corresponding A2–A4 and G1–G4 plans for Academic and Government customers respectively. Of those, administrators who have signed up for the "first release" option will receive Delve as quickly as possible. Otherwise, Delve will slowly roll out to all of the remaining Office customers by "early 2015," Microsoft said.

As my colleague Tony Bradley pointed out, Delve appears to work like a sort of personalized search engine or mind map. It will probably work best across distributed teams and workgroups. And it will maintain other Office permissions, as well, allowing collaboration with contractors or other workers outside the company. If there's any subtext, it's that Delve only comes with Office 365 and is not available via a standalone Office suite.

One advantage of Delve is that it's a personal tool; granted, it works best when other workers are using SharePoint or Yammer, but doesn't necessarily require a whole company to adopt it for daily use. And that's probably one question that each business worker will have to ask: Is Delve the best way to organize my content, or do I already have a system that works? Fortunately, if you have an Office 365 subscription, you'll be able to try out Delve for free and answer that question yourself.

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