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Office.com - Your Portal to Everything

Posted by Alex Henry | Mar 12, 2020 9:00:00 AM

For my 30-day Office Online Challenge, where's a better place to start than at the gates of your Office 365 account? Written review inside...

It's been over four weeks since I started this little challenge of mine but before I jump into this review, I need to set the record straight. Apparently Microsoft no longer uses "Office Online" in their branding.

Now while I'll continue to call this my "Office Online Challenge", it's worth pointing out that Microsoft is now simply calling the whole platform "Office".


TL;DR (too long; didn't read) Review of the Office.com Home
What I liked
What I Didn't Like
  • Convenient access to most recent apps and files
  • Ability to "Pin" documents here is very handy
  • Cannot customize portal layout
  • Some apps launch in new tabs, others don't


The Office.com portal is your gateway to all of your emails, calendars, conversations, working files, plans, workflows and much more. Depending on your Office 365 subscription, you can also download all of the Office desktop apps from here too.

This portal won a lot of "Convenience Points" from me because I was able to quickly create new documents and locate existing ones from this page.  For these reasons alone, I made Office.com one of my default browser tabs. 

Beyond the app launcher at the top of the page, the rest of this page is dedicated to connecting you to your most frequented documents across OneDrive and SharePoint.  Some of it was helpful, some of it wasn't - which leaves me wishing I could customize the layout of the this page for my own use-cases.

Keep reading to learn more.

Welcome to Office.com

The Office.com Home


Upon logging in with your Office 365 credentials, you're welcomed to a list of apps at the top represents your most recently and frequently used apps. If you don't see the app you're looking for then you can click "All Apps" to see the entire list.

As someone who creates a lot of new documents, having the "Start New" button was especially helpful. The obvious advantage is that you can create any office document from here (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, notebooks, etc).  Any documents you create this way will automatically be saved to your OneDrive account, so you can just start working right away.


"Start New" button lets you create any Office Document with a click


My only nitpick about the app launcher is that there's no consistency with how apps launch in your browser.  Some apps open in a new tab, others open in your current tab.  While I'm sure there was some logic behind the decisions that led us here, I'll remain hopeful that this is fixed in the future so all apps open in new tabs.

Below the app launcher, the portal is divided up into a few sections that link you to documents saved across your OneDrive and SharePoint sites. The first section shows you 'Recommended" documents.


Recommended documents across OneDrive and SharePoint


I wasn't able to information on exactly this works yet, so I'm going to attribute this to "AI Magic" for the time being.  Regardless, I never found the Recommendations to be particularly helpful but your mileage may vary.

Below the recommendations, there is a section that is divided up into tabs: (1) "Recent" documents, (2) "Pinned" documents, (3) documents "Shared with You", and (4) documents you can "Discover". After the app launcher, this was the next best part of the office.com portal for my use-cases.


Pin documents to the Office.com portal


Over the last month, I used the "Recent" and "Pinned" documents so often, I wish this section was placed above the "Recommended" section. Until I started this challenge, I had never scrolled down far enough to even see that I could pin documents here!

Like the "Recommended" section, I never found the "Shared with Me" and "Discover" sections to be very useful and I rarely looked to see what was actually in here.

Discoverable Documents from OneDrive and SharePoint


The last section at the very bottom of the Office.com portal are links to your most recently viewed folders on OneDrive, your most frequented SharePoint sites, and sites you follow.  Clicking on anything there will take you to the respectful folder on OneDrive or directly to the SharePoint site.

While I never really used this section, these do provide a small bit of convenience to anyone who needs to visit particular SharePoint sites frequently. 


View recently viewed folders from OneDrive, and SharePoint sites you frequent and follow


Final Thoughts

Going in, I did not think I would use the office.com portal as much as I did.  As mentioned above, the biggest value-adds that the Office.com portal provided me was the convenient "Start New" button when I needed to create a new document, and the "Recent" and "Pinned" documents. Those two features alone earned the Office.com Portal a permanent home in my desktop browser.

I think the most important takeaway for you is that all of this is available with just your login credentials from any computer at work or at home.  No need to complicated VPNs or flash drives to get work done while on the go.

Thanks for reading!

Topics: Modern Workplace, Remote Work

Written by Alex Henry

Alex is a passionate champion of the Modern Workplace philosophy and continuous learning. Learning new technology for collaboration and communication is a hobby. Helping friends, family, clients, and colleagues find smarter ways to use this modern technology to solve old problems is a passion. In the parting words of Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes: "It's a magical world.... let's go exploring!"


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