Review: Office 365 fails at collaboration

Despite years of promises and gap-filling acquisitions, Microsoft's collaboration toolkit remains a woefully inadequate mishmash

For several years, Microsoft has been promising a compelling vision in Office 365: a common platform of productivity and collaboration tools that all departments could use, with the extra security assurance of integrating policies and access into Active Directory. Over time, Microsoft delivered a compelling road map for how all the pieces would work not only in Windows but in other operating systems like OS X, iOS, and Android.

Today, Microsoft still offers that road map. But it has built little of the actual road to get to the promised destination.

With Office 2016 for Windows now available, completing the delivery of the modern versions of Microsoft's productivity suite, the publications at IDG -- InfoWorld, Computerworld, Network World, CIO.com, ITworld, CSO Online, JavaWorld, PCWorld, Macworld, TechHive, Greenbot, IDG News Service, and IDG.tv -- decided it was time to use Office 365 to its fullest. Our most acute need was messaging within and across groups, but we also wanted to take advantage of document sharing, group calendars, and online conferencing, activities we had been doing ad hoc.

What really struck us after launching this review: The Office 365 collaboration tools are still iffy. We were very much hoping we could standardize on Office 365 across the board, but the truth is we can't.

The biggest factor is Microsoft's continued poor support for Macs, which comprise the majority of PCs used by our editorial and development groups. Some Office 365 collaboration features are very compelling, but they're kept from the Mac. There are also some tools that simply don't work well, even in Windows.

Our evaluations:

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