There's a brand new Microsoft Office app: Office 365 Planner

There’s a brand new application in Microsoft Office: Office 365 Planner. Think of it as Microsoft’s answer to cloud-based coordination tools like Trello, allowing teams to organize tasks with visually arranged boards full of cards.

It’s not out for everyone yet, but Office 365 First Release customers can start using the app if administrators enable it.

Saying the tool helps teams organize their work visually, Microsoft explained their product in a blog post, saying “each plan has its own Board, and within each Board, each work item or task is represented by a Card that can have due dates, attachments, categories, and conversations associated with it.” All of these features will sound familiar to Trello users, as will some of the screenshots.

But there are some things unique to Planner, including integration with other Office products. Attached Office documents can be edited quickly, online or off, for example. There’s also integration with OneNote — every plan has a notebook created for it.

The Hub view lets teams track how many tasks are assigned to individual users and how much progress they’ve made. It comes complete with charts.

Not everyone can user Planner: it’s currently offered only to Office 365 First Release customers; that is, to customers who have opted in to early releases of Microsoft software. Even then, the app is available to users of the following plans:

  • Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, E4 and E5
  • Office 365 Education
  • Office 365 Education E3 and E4
  • Office 365 Business Essentials
  • Office 365 Business Premium

Note that this leaves out some Enterprise plans, all Home ones, and all Government ones. Even if your plan offers the app, an administrator needs to enable the app before users can start playing with it. So if you don’t see the app offered, this is why.

Presumably the app will be more widely distributed after this trial period, during which Microsoft is asking users for feedback. It should be interesting to see how the new product evolves.

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