Microsoft Office or Skydrive Pro unlikely to come to IOS (or Android) in the near future

apple vs microsoftThose of you who have been patiently putting up with the shortcomings of document editing on your iPads and Nexus tablets while you wait for Microsoft to release a mobile version of Microsoft Office®, will be sorely disappointed by the recent declarations of Steve Balmer and Kurt DelBene, the head of Microsoft’s Office division.

In short, you can forget about Microsoft Office on anything other than a Windows Phone or Windows 8 tablet.  The same goes for the confusingly branded Skydrive Pro, which was announced by Microsoft in 2012 as being the new mobile offline client for Microsoft SharePoint.

If you have not been keeping up to speed with what is becoming something of a saga, Microsoft and Apple are in the middle of a major dispute over the payment of royalty fees to Apple for upgrades or paid subscriptions within in apps that have been downloaded from the IOS App Store for free.  Essentially, Apple is saying that if a developer charges for an app or service relating to an app that was free at the time of download, they want their 30% royalty fee.  This is something that Microsoft has found hard to stomach and so they have (for the foreseeable future) decided to eschew the IOS platform.  [The lack of availability of Microsoft Apps on Google Play is due to other reasons].

Microsoft’s mobile SharePoint plans up in the air?
All of this means that Microsoft’s much lauded SharePoint 2013 mobile functionality with an offline mobile client, is unlikely to see the light of day.  Even Gartner seem to be frustrated by Microsoft’s inability to get their story straight on mobile and had this to say in a recent research note:

“Microsoft hasn’t given much attention to mobility on SharePoint, and there doesn’t seem to be a sense of urgency around it, which is bewildering”

Fear not however, because companies like Azurati have developed solutions that provide cross-platform mobile SharePoint with on and offline working options and the ability to use full Microsoft Office to edit documents, spreadsheets or presentations live on any mobile device.

Azurati doc live edit 2

Figure 1:  Users select ‘edit document’ in SharePoint2Go

Azurati doc live edit 4

Figure 2:  Editing a document in Microsoft Word via SharePoint2Go

Azurati has integrated Microsoft Office Web Apps® into its HTML5 SharePoint2Go® solution, allowing documents stored in Microsoft SharePoint to be edited live and saved back to SharePoint without having to download documents to third party editing applications and then having to upload them back to SharePoint (sometimes with document formatting issues) at a later time.  Its a really neat solution and gives users what they want:  to be able to edit documents in Microsoft Office.

To find out more about Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution and to arrange a free trial, visit: www.azurati.com/products/sharepoint2go

 

Is Apple’s dispute with Microsoft over Skydrive for IOS forcing Microsoft to focus more on HTML5?

SkyDrive

Last month, we heard that the cause of the delay to updates to a number of Microsoft applications (like SkyDrive and SkyDrive Pro) on the IOS App Store was a dispute between Apple and Microsoft over Apple’s insistence that all app developers who monetize their Apps that have been downloaded from the Apple App Store pay Apple a 30% royalty fee.

For those developers who post free apps to the App Store, they have nothing to worry about.  However, Apple is now starting to hone in on those developers that use the App Store as a free channel to market by publishing ‘free’ apps that later require the user to pay a fee or licence to the developer.  Apple says that these in-app fees and purchases should be subject to the same 30% royalty payment as Apps that are paid for directly in the App Store marketplace.

This is a big problem for Microsoft and other App developers because Apple’s terms and conditions, which Apple states are uniform for all developers, require the developer to pay Apple a 30% margin on all in-app purchases, upgrades, enhancements, etc. – in perpituity; even if the end user switches to another mobile platform in the future.

Microsoft has found this condition quite hard to digest as you might imagine and now finds itself in a state of limbo as far as its portfolio of IOS apps are concerned.  For instance, the IOS SkyDrive app has a new version ready to be deployed with important feature and security updates, but it has not been published to the IOS App Store yet.

Enter HTML5 Apps
Coincidentally, Microsoft recently announced major new enhancements to its HTML5 version of SkyDrive, supporting swiping gestures and drag and drop features that many would only think possible with native device applications.

So, has Microsoft begun the process of by-passing native application App Stores to focus on rich cross-platform HTML5 mobile web applications?  In reality, the answer in the short term is probably not, but they are certainly pursuing a multi-channel mobile strategy that will make the HTML5 option more attractive in the future, particularly if it means having to avoid costly fees to App Store operators.

In the enterprise space however, we see HTML5 applications having a much more powerful impact.  HTML5 mobile applications are the only true way for a CIO to implement an all-inclusive BYOD or cross-platform mobile strategy economically and they do not require costly investments in Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructures.

Check out www.azurati.com to see how HTML5-based mobile applications are being used in the enterprise to transform the productivity of mobile business users.

 

BYOD-ready mobile SharePoint with Azurati SharePoint2Go

Video demonstration of Azurati SharePoint2Go, a secure HTML5 cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution.

Contact Azurati via http://www.azurati.com for more information about how you can deploy mobile SharePoint as part of your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy.

Nielson Norman announce 10 best Intranets; mobile still lagging behind

Nielson Norman Group, a leading Intranet design and consulting firm, have just published their annual top 10 Intranets study; an annual review of the top 10 corporate intranet sites from companies around the world.

Nielsen Norman’s top 10 best designed intranets for 2013 are:

1. Acorda Therapeutics, Inc. Biotechnology USA
2. American International Group, Inc. Insurance USA
3. AT&T Telecommunications USA
4. Hager Group Manufacturing Germany
5. Luzerner Kantonalbank AG Financial Services Switzerland
6. ONO Telecommunications Spain
7. Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) Governmental Agency Saudi Arabia
8. Swiss Mobiliar Insurance and Pensions Insurance Switzerland
9. WorkSafeBC Workers Compensation Board of British Columbia Canada
10. XL Group Plc Insurance Ireland

Interesting points to note from the report are that, according to Nielsen Norman, over 70% of corporate intranets are built on a Microsoft SharePoint platform, and mainly due to the fact that corporate intranets take a very long time to develop and perfect (an average of 26.5 months or 2.3 years), mobile enablement of corporate intranets is seriously lagging behind other new features, like Social Collaboration.

This means that many corporate intranets are failing to address the needs of a growing number of users who want to be able to access corporate information and knowledge on mobile devices.  Gartner estimates that by the end of 2014, 70% of enterprises will have implemented a BYOD strategy and the corporate intranet is one of the most obvious enterprise resources that should be made available on mobile devices.

The report lists common mobile barriers as being:

  • Security concerns
  • Difficulty of choosing a platform
  • Lack of resources to create and maintain mobile builds
  • Uncertainty about whether to implement a full feature set with a good mobile user experience or an app for particular tasks

Creating mobile SharePoint intranets
As with all things software, there will always be the debate as to whether one should build and develop a bespoke solution, or whether a commercial off-the-shelf solution would make better commercial sense. The same will undoubtedly be the same when you come around to considering mobile-enabling your SharePoint-based intranet.

Azurati SharePoint2Go_compared_with Standard_SharePoint

Our (biased) counsel, would be to refrain from custom development of mobile interfaces with SharePoint.  It is a fairly well known issue that Microsoft has not done a good job with the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint.  Even with SharePoint 2013, developers are dissuaded from branding and customising the standard mobile templates that ship with SharePoint.  In addition, new mobile templates need to be developed for each form-factor that is released, which can lead to prohibitive on-going costs of maintenance and support.  That is why solutions like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution is able to deliver mobile enabled SharePoint that will work seamlessly on any mobile device in five minutes.

Not only does SharePoint2Go deliver an instant cross-platform mobile solution for SharePoint intranets, it also includes over 15 options to authenticate your mobile users securely; with everything from forms-based authentication to 2-factor built in to SharePoint2Go’s administrator wizards.

SharePoint2Go your way
If your SharePoint intranet is heavily customised with value-adding functions that make your desktop version of your intranet a productive experience (like company news, people finders, document repositories, management dashboards, etc.), SharePoint2Go can be extended by developers to create mobile versions of custom SharePoint web parts – we call them V-Parts.  V-Parts can be designed to be used within the mobile SharePoint interface, or as stand-alone full-screen mobile applications that can operate in offline mode as well as online.

As an HTML5 mobile application that is accessible via the mobile device’s browser, SharePoint2Go will work with feature-parity on any mobile device, no matter what the market throws at you; making it the ideal solution to complement your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy.

Find out more
If you are looking to mobile-enable your SharePoint intranet and you are looking for a solution that:

  • is built with enterprise security in mind
  • will work on any mobile device or form factor, with feature-parity, and will therefore complement your enterprise mobile or BYOD strategy
  • will not require costly internal development teams to develop and maintain your mobile environment, or costly Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions, get in touch with Azurati.

To find out more about Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution for mobile-enabling Microsoft SharePoint and to request a free 14 day trial, contact info@azurati.com or visit www.azurati.com.

New year; new enhancements for Azurati’s enterprise mobility solutions

The development team at Azurati would even have impressed Santa’s Elves this Holiday season with the raft of new exciting innovations and enhancements that they have managed to roll-out to support our secure, cross-platform mobile enterprise proposition.

Today, we are excited to announce a number of new innovations that have not previously been available to any enterprise mobile users, which we hope will boost the adoption of HTML5-based mobile applications in the enterprise:

Azurati Mobile Portal
The Azurati Mobile Portal provides a new way for enterprise users to access HTML5-based mobile applications securely from any mobile device.  With the Azurati Mobile Portal, enterprise users are able to authenticate themselves once and then use the Mobile Portal interface as an HTML5 mobile application launchpad, enabling mobile apps to be launched with secure single sign-on.

Azurati Mobile Portal for HTML5 mobile applications

The Azurati Mobile Portal is great for both IT and the mobile user community because it provides a secure environment to access HTML5 mobile applications that can be centrally controlled (without needing expensive Mobile Device Management solutions).

HTML5 mobile applications are published to the Azurati Mobile Portal via the Azurati ASAP mobile application platform.

Azurati Apps
Azurati Apps are HTML5 applications that can be developed as cross-platform mobile applications from the ground-up, or as cross-platform mobile versions of existing enterprise software applications.

What’s more, for the first time, Microsoft SharePoint users who frequently access custom developed Web Parts in SharePoint, can create specific full-screen mobile applications from Web Parts that can be accessed via the Azurati Mobile Portal.  Examples of these may be Staff Contact lists, Product data lists, Company news and discussions, etc.

Azurati Apps

Azurati Apps can be developed to support Dynamic Offline access so that mobile users can continue to work and be productive even when Internet connectivity is lost.

Enhancements to Azurati V-Parts in SharePoint2Go
Azurati has made a number of enhancements to our V-Part architecture that now makes it easier than ever to convert custom developed SharePoint Web Parts and access them via Azurati’s cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, SharePoint2Go.

If you find that the true value in SharePoint is not in its out-of-the-box feature set, but in the custom developed Web Parts and SharePoint apps (like Staff contact lists, project task lists, company news, BI reports, sales pipeline data, etc.), then for the first time, you will be able to continue to use these functions

Live editing of documents from SharePoint2Go
A common request from Azurati customers was the ability to edit documents from SharePoint2Go.  Up until now, this has been technically complex because of the fact that SharePoint2Go is a mobile web application.  However, we are pleased to announce a new capability that will allow live editing of documents from SharePoint2Go using Microsoft Office Web Apps on iPads.

The following screenshots show how this works (click images to view enlarged view):

1. Select document from library

Azurati doc live edit 1

2. Select Edit Document

Azurati doc live edit 2

3. Edit document in Microsoft Web Apps (this requires a valid user licence for Office Web Apps)

Azurati doc live edit 4 4. Save document

azurati doc live edit 5 5. Document edits are saved back to SharePoint2Go

azurati doc live edit 6

SharePoint2Go On-Premise deployments
We are pleased to announce also, that we are now able to offer On-Premise deployments of SharePoint2Go in addition to our standard Microsoft Azure Cloud option.  Enterprise customers who feel that they are unable to make use of Cloud-based services may install the Azurati SharePoint2Go server on internal servers behind the corporate firewall.

More information about Azurati
If you are considering HTML5-based mobile applications as part of your enterprise mobility strategy or if you would like to understand more about any of these announcements and Azurati’s HTML5 enterprise mobility solutions, please contact us via www.azurati.com.

Mobile SharePoint to complement your BYOD or COPE mobile strategy

According to a recent poll by Azurati, access to mobile SharePoint is seen to be one of the most critical must-have mobile enterprise applications for organisations who are looking to deploy enterprise applications to mobile users as part of a BYOD or COPE (Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled) mobile strategy.

Social Collaboration, workflow approvals and BI dashboards also scored highly amongst those who responded.

Providing mobile SharePoint access to users securely on multiple mobile devices is a challenge if you are looking to exploit the native templates and functionality in SharePoint.  Here are some of the reasons why you might want to consider licencing a vendor-developed solution, like Azurati’s SharePoint2Go®:

Authentication
Enabling mobile users to authenticate across the corporate firewall to access internal applications, like SharePoint, is often the single biggest challenge that IT teams will face.  Azurati makes authentication and secure access easy, because we have done all of the hard work for you and provide 15 options for enterprise customers to set up secure authentication to their SharePoint environment in a simple Wizard interface.

Azurati also supports multiple methods of authentication, allowing options like federated profiles (so users can use their standard Active Directory credentials, or they can log on using external authentication providers, like their Window Live ID, Google or Yahoo accounts.  This option is often useful if you are thinking about providing mobile SharePoint access to external stakeholders or temporary staff).

Cross-platform and form factor support
Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution guarantees to support any smartphone or tablet on the market, including devices like Windows Surface RT tablets, Amazon Kindle Fire tablets and the upcoming Blackberry 10 range of devices, as well as standard mobile platforms like IOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone devices; making Azurati your ideal BYOD partner.

You can customise the standard mobile templates that ship with Microsoft SharePoint, but they require extensive specialist developers to create specific templates for target mobile platforms and form factors, which will need to be updated as new devices emerge on the market.

Branding and UI customisation
Microsoft’s latest guidelines are for SharePoint developers to not customise the SharePoint interface.  For those companies that have invested significant time and money in their corporate identity and brand and who wish to extend that identity to mobile SharePoint users, Azurati’s SharePoint2Go solution will allow full branding and UI customisation to truly make your mobile SharePoint yours.

Support for mobile WebParts
It is rare these days to find a SharePoint implementation that does not include some elements of custom developed components, or WebParts.  WebParts often make SharePoint come to life as a corporate Intranet platform or ECM platform by providing views and access to functionality like Staff contact lists, company news and events, weather, advanced search, recently edited documents, BI/Management reports and dashboard, Sales pipeline data, etc.

You should ask a simple question:  if your users make use of custom developed WebParts in the desktop version of SharePoint, should all or some of those WebParts be made available to mobile users?

There is of course one major challenge here.  All mobile SharePoint solutions on the market (including the native mobile option from Microsoft), with the exception of Azurati, can only display standard SharePoint features (like documents, news, list data, calendars, tasks, etc) to mobile users.

Azurati allows custom developed WebParts to be transformed in to mobile WebParts, or V-Parts®, as Azurati calls them.  V-Parts can allow custom WebParts to be used interactively within the SharePoint2Go solution on any mobile device. V-Parts can also be developed to operate in dynamic offline mode, so you can continue working even if you do not have internet connectivity.

Special offer for SharePoint Conference 2012 delegates
If you are currently attending the SharePoint Conference 2012 in Las Vegas, you may qualify for a 30% discount on SharePoint2Go licenses if you purchase SharePoint2Go for your users before 31 December 2012.  All you have to do is send us a photo or scanned image of your conference pass (like the one shown below) to qualify:

If you are thinking about deploying mobile SharePoint, this is a great opportunity for you to do so at a great discount.

For more information about Azurati and SharePoint2Go, the secure cross-platform mobile SharePoint solution, please visit www.azurati.com and request a free 14 day trial.

Navantis Joins Forces with Azurati to Elevate BYOD Offerings for SharePoint

Azurati announces a strategic partnership with Navantis Inc., a Canadian IT leader and 2012 Microsoft Global Partner of the Year (Canada).  Navantis will be offering Azurati’s SharePoint2Go® and enterprise mobile application platform to customers in Canada and North America.  The partnership will focus on offering customers SharePoint2Go®, a cloud-based service that represents a breakthrough in making Microsoft SharePoint simple, secure and accessible on any smartphone or tablet, while helping  businesses address the exponential growth of bring-your-own-device (BYOD).

Gartner has predicted that by 2014 “90% of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices”.  Earlier this year, the Navantis Expert Series provided thought leadership around this trend when it hosted a series of BYOD events across Canada. The theme of the series was to educate IT and business professionals on the challenges raised by BYOD and to provide real solutions that are working today.  One of those solutions now includes SharePoint2Go®.

Built on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, SharePoint2Go® is designed to specifically address the concerns that organizations operating Microsoft SharePoint will face with respect to BYOD. Mobile security features are the heart of the SharePoint2Go® solution, making it one of the most secure mobile SharePoint solutions on the market today, providing a range of features unmatched by its rivals. Designed from the ground-up to offer a secure mobile deployment, SharePoint2Go combines ease-of-use, simple user interface and single sign-on, coupled with strong security features.

“As the top Microsoft Partner in Canada, we pride ourselves on delivering solutions for clients that solve business problems,” said Randy Lenaghan, CEO Navantis. “Part of our strategy is to select quality partners in the Microsoft ecosystem to jointly deliver unique value driving global competitiveness for our customers.  Azurati was chosen by our team after a rigorous and thorough validation process. We are excited to be working with them on several initiatives.”

The Navantis strategy of selecting best-of-breed technology partners to deliver outstanding results to their client community has resulted in significant industry recognition in the past twelve months.  This included being named as a winner or finalist for technology collaboration with best-of-breed partners at both the CDN Elite Awards as well as the Microsoft Canada IMPACT Awards for work at Direct Energy, Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation and PHO.

“We are delighted to be working with Navantis, one of the world’s leading Microsoft partners,” said Ronan Lavelle, CEO, Azurati. “Organizations are focusing more on their enterprise mobility strategies and we believe that it is vital that the mobile experience is feature and function-rich, rather than being a compromise compared to desktop applications. Navantis has the experience and vision enabling our technology to deliver value to the enterprise.”

Providing education, roadmaps and proven solutions for corporate IT enabling any computing device, smartphone or tablet access to the business without the worries of IT setup, support and security is a priority for both Navantis and Azurati.

This partnership combines Navantis’ experience and successful track-record with Azurati’s innovative SharePoint2Go® offering. Developing today’s most advanced IT solutions takes great partnerships with thought-leaders who share the same vision of empowering clients to exceed their goals.