Office 365 collaboration: Confusion reigns across platforms

Microsoft releases components for its cross-platform tools willy-nilly, so it's hard to actually deploy them

Office 365 collaboration: Confusion reigns across platforms
Peter Sayer/IDGNS

One of the big benefits Microsoft touts for Office 365 is its ability to bring together users of the major platforms -- Windows, OS X, iOS, and Android -- onto a shared set of tools whose features are by and large the same, so team members can collaborate freely.

With the recent release of Office 2016 for Windows, Microsoft has largely delivered on the cross-platform promise for its productivity components: Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. But it's nowhere near as unified regarding the rest of Office 365's collaboration tools, which still come out in dribs and drabs over months, sometimes years.

If you're a cross-platform company, the table below will help you know what tools you can -- and can't -- reliably count on across your core platforms.

As you can see, even when a tool is available for a platform, it may not be as capable as it is on other platforms. How that might matter to you depends on your mix of platforms.

If you're a Windows-mainly shop, your workflow might let you get away with treating other platforms' users as second-class citizens.

But if you're a highly mobile organization or you have a large percentage of Macs in everyday use, you'll probably need to rethink your collaboration software, or push out when you'll be able to roll out an all-company collaboration workflow if you decide to stick with Microsoft.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.