Archive for October, 2010

October 2010 Upgrade – Project Management on Steroids and More

The latest release of HyperOffice implements more than 25 customer requested enhancements, with a major focus on delivering a more robust online project management tool including task dependencies, interactive Gantt charts, and more. Here is a list of the most popular updates. It brings users an alternative to project management tools like BaseCamp, which may bring robust project features, but lag in other collaboration areas.

Shared Tasks

Task Dependencies – Task dependencies now allow users to create project management workflows based on standard task relationships: Start-to-Start, Start-to-Finish, Finish-to-Start, and Finish-to-Finish. This allows users to reflect real life corporate projects, which are a network of interdependent tasks. Create complex relationships between tasks, such as, “task 1 cannot begin till task 2 is completed”, “task 1 cannot begin till task 2 has begun”, “task 1 cannot finish till task 2 has finished” and so on.

Interactive Gantt Charts: The new interactive Gantt Chart, offering drag, drop, and re-size features on tasks, allow users to arrange tasks and set task durations right from the Gantt Chart console.

Timesaver – Added ability to duplicate tasks to save time on common tasks

Timesaver/Feature enhancement – Users will now be notified as to which part of a shared task is changed by underlining the changed fields inside of the notification email

Timesaver/Feature enhancement – Added and improved recurring tasks and projects, which now appear as a new tab in task edit window.

Contacts

Timesaver – Contacts will now be associated with whichever category they are created from

Timesaver – Group admins are now able to purge/delete all group contacts

Timesaver – Added ability to copy contacts using the right-click copy menu.

Mail

Usability – In the business email module, we have increased the limits on To/CC/BCC fields to 100 recipients, 100 recipients, and 50 recipients respectively allowing users to send out mass emails. However the aggregate number of recipients in all fields (To, CC, and BCC) may not exceed 200 addressees.

Timesaver – Improved folder creation system by allowing creation of a folder within a parent folder based on your location inside of the folder structure.

Documents

Timesaver – You can now edit folder/file names in shared documents inline from the web interface

Settings

Ease of Use – Time zone selection is simpler with fewer choices based entirely on your GMT adjustment.

Timesaver/Automation – Added ability to set default reminders for events inside of personal settings

Feature Enhancement – Portal administrators now have the ability to unlock user accounts whose accounts have had 10 failed log-in attempts within one hour

Microsoft BPOS is now Office 365

Office 365: What is it?

A couple of hours ago, Microsoft announced the beta release of Office 365, a cloud service that wraps its major offerings – Exchange, SharePoint, Lync and Office in a unified cloud environment.

Experts expected Microsoft to announce that it will upgrade the backend of BPOS to its 2010 range of products, and also include Office Web Apps, its much covered web version of MS Office. Since there was no mention of BPOS during the keynote it is unclear if Office 365 will replace MS’ Business Productivity Online Suite or be an additional product (Marie Jo Folie of ZDNet is of the opinion that BPOS goes).

The unexpected news is that Office 365 will also include Office Professional Plus, a desktop client which includes MS Office and some other collaboration features.

Crudely, Office 365 can be seen in the following terms


Microsoft gives the cloud a bear hug

This keynote is probably the strongest endorsement of the cloud by Microsoft yet, where they called the cloud a “once in a generation technology shift” and “of the magnitude of a change to the graphical user interface.”

We were glad to see much of our messaging echoed in the keynote – that the cloud changes the rules of competition by enabling small companies with the same technologies as enterprises; it allows cost savings of up to 50%; that small businesses need technologies that are easy to use and quick to deploy, and so on.

Microsoft would have you believe that it was all part of its “vision”, but the truth is, market pressures have forced it to give the cloud a central position in its strategy. Cloud computing for businesses was made mainstream by Google Apps in the last couple of years, but confidence was built slowly and steadily over years by early cloud players like SalesForce and HyperOffice.

Where HyperOffice fits in

We are more than glad when a large company like Microsoft endorses and evangelizes the cloud or software-as-a-service market. It validates the market, and we have to exert less effort trying to convince users about the benefits of the cloud, and can focus on telling them about what differentiates our product from others.

We know we placed our bets right – the online collaboration software market, which apart from HyperOffice, only had one or two other players in the early 2000s, and is now the most exciting market in business IT.

This news also further validates the integrated online messaging and collaboration software market, which breaks down the traditional barriers between “communication” and “collaboration” applications. We have been offering “integrated” solution for years now, and Google Apps and Microsoft BPOS have made this approach mainstream in the last couple of years.

We do not have the grand plans of Microsoft and Google, of swamping the enterprise market with cloud solutions. We are confident that HyperOffice brings one of the best solutions for our target niche – small and mid sized businesses – and of our ability to continue to operate profitably in that niche.

Microsoft BPOS, and its possible new avatar, Office 365, are ultimately refurbishments of its enterprise focused technologies, and retain some of the complexity. Companies with IT resources will find themselves best positioned to make advantage of these solutions.

HyperOffice, on the other hand, being a small business ourselves, we are more in touch with the needs of growing companies. SMBs need solutions they can implement without the benefit of in house IT expertise, and require strong customer support. HyperOffice brings users a lot more functionality “out of the box” than Office 365, developed over years of real experience with SMBs. Moreover, we bring a strong customer service ethic, and a service package (free training and phone support), which Microsoft cannot replicate with its network of partners.

Listen to HyperOffice at the Small Biz Tech Tour

Small Biz Technology, a premier online journal dedicated to tech issues related to small businesses, is launching the Small Biz Tech Tour, the first edition of what is going to be an annual event. Spread out over 43 days, the Tour will stop over at 5 cities including Mountain View, CA; Salt Lake City; Boston; Washington DC and Atlanta. If you are a small business owner near any of those venues, make haste to get yourself over there!

It is going to be a grand show, featuring a lineup of star studded speakers representing thought leaders in small business tech from the analyst, journalist and vendor community. You get a chance to hear and ask questions from 35 speakers including Ramon Ray (smallbiztechnology.com), Brent Leary (CRM expert), Laurie McCabe (SMB Group), Patrick Schwerdtfeger (Bloomberg TV), and, our own Shahab Kaviani!

Click here for the itinerary and further information

This series of events will give owners insights into the most pressing contemporary question for small businesses – to cut through all the chaotic talk and find how to make use of modern internet technology, which makes available to them tools formerly in the sole dominion of enterprises, to be more effective and competitive.

You also get to network with your peers. Speak with technology vendors. Participate in discussions. Eat. Win Prizes.

HyperOffice at the Tour

We are glad that HyperOffice was invited to share our experiences and insights. We’ve served small businesses for more than a decade since 1998. We were one of the first companies to offer software-as-a-service solutions to the business market, and one of the earliest players in online collaboration, the most explosive market these days.

Importantly, we have dealt with the needs of small businesses on a day-to-day basis over all these years, learnt invaluable lessons, and built our solutions and services around that knowledge. And Shahab has been in the thick of it since the early days of HyperOffice listening to customers, spearheading our marketing efforts, helping define a nascent market and educating small businesses about it. Be sure that he has some serious pointers and tips for you.

Be there!