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What is Microsoft Sway

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 / by ExcelHelp

Do you use Office 365 in your business?

Sway Office 365

Now might be the time to either start, or to consult with an expert on how best to use the “anywhere, anytime, on any device” system.

Why? 

Office 365, Microsoft’s cloud-based version of the Office software, has a whole set of features that cater to business needs:

  • cloud (off-file hosting) storage on its service “OneDrive”
  • email plans
  • social networking through hosted systems
  • Office apps on tablets and phones
  • and of course it still comes with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for your business computers (but also Outlook, Access, OneNote, and even Publisher)

The newest feature might be it’s best, however, and it has everything to do with presentation.

A preview of Sway has finally been released. If you ever even glance at tech news then you will have seen hints and build up to this announcement: Microsoft stated on May 21st that it was offering Sway to Office 365 business and education customers.

Sway hopes to change stuffy presentations into interactive expressions of ideas. It’s hoping to make business more productive through an access-anywhere, collaborative, easy-to-design Office add-on.

Not sure what Sway is or why it might matter to your business?

Let’s say you suddenly have a great octopus umbrella idea…

Simply put: Sway is a a presentation web app that allows users to combine text and media to create a presentable website. It’s the fresh, fun, social brother of PowerPoint.

The website-based presentations are charmingly called “sways” and will use a responsive design (meaning it can be accessed from smartphones, tablets, and desktops).

This responsive design allows for easy navigation across all platforms, with Sway incorporating a scrolling layout for easy viewing.

Sway for Office 365 is initially rolling out to First Release customers, and it will become available to all eligible Office 365 customers over the coming months.

Now is the time to familiarize yourself with the app and its business benefits, so your company can start utilizing the mobile and social aspects as soon as possible.

Currently, Sway preview is only available for Office 365 on the web. However, the next update will bring it to smartphones.

It’s no secret that many rely on smartphones. With more people becoming increasingly mobile, they need mobile devices to fit their busy lifestyles.

It’s always a good time to think about the future of your company and there is no doubt that the future includes engagement through various platforms.

Now could be the time to reach out to a Microsoft Office consultant and learn the ins and outs of the interactive presentation software – to get ahead of any competition or make your job easier!

Not sure if your business is a First Release customer but want to get started today?

Microsoft offers instructions for enabling First Release:

If your organization is not already in First Release, Office 365 admins can visit the Office 365 admin center (under Service settings > Updates) and select either Entire organization or Select people to turn First Release on. The setting change can take up to 24 hours to take effect. At that point, Sway will begin to roll out to your organization.

sway-first-release

If you have to wait for the program to start, why not become familiar with it in the meantime?

What are the features available through Sway?

It’s time to say hallo, bonjour, guten tag, ciao, olá, and hola to Sway. One of the newest features is the addition of six more languages, with more to come, to the app.

The six include:

  • Dutch
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish


















Now those within the international business sector have a simple way to share presentations quickly with one another across countries or continents.

The website presentation style allows for interaction on the same document, through various platforms, at any time. It’s a huge plus for international connections.

Those that speak multiple languages can choose which they want to work within, as well.

Flickr Integration has also been included and enhanced. Just click and drag images into your presentation to add visuals.

Note: If you’re not on Flickr this feature can still be of use to you. There are community images tagged with Creative Commons licenses that you can use.

sway-first-release
 

As you drag and drop content, Sway organizes your clips into a visually appealing layout – perfect for scrolling through.

sway-organizes-your-clips

If you don’t have design prowess that’s fine, because Sway takes care of that by organizing and aligning for you.

Forget all those agonizing times when you tried to pick a background and font for a work presentation (does the swirling blue background give off a friendly, calming vibe or will they spend the whole presentation thinking of pools and yearning to escape to one while I’m speaking? Help!).

Forget the hours spent making sure the composition was just right – those days are in the past, thankfully.

The Grid Card feature organizes any images, videos and text you’ve added into a uniform grid, which is programed to adjust automatically to look great on any screen size where it is displayed.

sway-organizes-your-clips
 

The next feature is even more useful.

Perhaps your business uses a lot of technical jargon. Consider a pharmaceutical company or a business that interacts with the military. There are many specific terms and phrases that only those within a certain field will understand.

Or maybe your business centers around clients and business connections. For example a public relations firm or an advertisement agency. There could be high profile individuals and companies to keep track of and know details on.

Well, one feature of Sway makes clarifying terms, places, or people easy. You can include Wikipedia snippets now.

There is even a suggested search feature.

Microsoft explains, “It uses natural language processing to continuously show you tags for related words and phrases you might be interested in searching on, based on what you’ve already written and the specific content in the area you’re working on.”

You can add extras like tweets or YouTube videos too, making the presentation more interactive. Once Sway becomes available on smartphones and tablets this will be an even more important feature.

Hashtags, social share buttons, or really any content straight from the web and social media sites will be great benefits to any presentation.

Excitingly, the presentations can be added to and modified in real-time.

Besides presentations, Sway has the potential to be used to create brochures, reports, or really anything that could benefit from a collaborative, access-it-anywhere, app.

However one chooses to use Sway, it remains that it is an interesting new concept.

Looking for more Microsoft Office news or tips? Find out about the benefits of Excel for your business and more.

Sway’s benefits and features include:

  • cloud (off-file hosting) storage on its service “OneDrive”
  • email plans
  • social networking through hosted systems
  • Office apps on tablets and phones
  • and of course it still comes with Word, Excel, and Powerpoint for your business computers (but also Outlook, Access, OneNote, and even Publisher)

Checking out the preview could lead to some new assets for your business. If your business has Office 365, consult with an expert on how to make the most of Sway.

Have you tried Microsoft Sway? Will you? What are your thoughts on the new program? Let us know in the comments!


Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015 / ExcelHelp ExcelHelp / no Comments

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