Microsoft Office: The Key Applications You May Have Missed

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Microsoft Office products have been a staple of the workplace for (gasp!) nearly 30 years. Since the introduction of the first bundle of applications (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) in the late-80’s, Microsoft has steadily expanded the Office Suite in response to the growing needs of the modern workplace.

In fact, you may not even be aware of all the products in the Microsoft Office galaxy or the number of complementary applications available with certain subscriptions. The old reliables, including Word and Excel, are still there, but can you name at least one other of the twelve products in the Microsoft Office suite of applications? Don’t worry if you can’t--we’ve got introductions to the oft-forgot eight and how they can best benefit your business.


If your company requires customized database solutions, Access is the tool for you. Access is primarily for software developers and database managers, allowing them to build browser-based database applications. The 2013 edition of Access actually allows users to create web applications directly in SharePoint 2013, in addition to being able to create tables, queries, forms and reports. The Access system provides a number of app and table templates to get users started, but also supports customization. Access 2013 also automatically stores data in a SQL database, so the data is more secure and scalable than past iterations. Access Services is required for Access 2013.


Manage corporate email easily and securely with Exchange, a mail, contacts, and calendar application. Even employees with crowded inboxes are able to store and organize emails and increase productivity. Teams are able to share information easily with “site mailboxes." Email threats are eliminated before they even reach your inbox and sensitive data is easily protected. Exchange allows you to move to the Cloud on your own terms and minimizes disruptions for employees.


Connect your company with Lync, a corporate instant messaging and video conferencing platform. This communication software allows employees to stay in touch anywhere by communicating securely wherever there is a network connection and on any device. Lync integrates voice and video calling with Lync meetings and instant messaging for an all-in-one communication experience. The ability to host virtual meetings with up to five participants is a great feature for business of any size. Browser-based access is available to those outside your organization to join conference calls and meetings. Integration with Skype (acquired by Microsoft in 2011) and OneNote make the experience even better.


OneNote is a great resource for information gathering and team collaboration. In many ways, OneNote acts like notes passed around between friends in school. Users can attach notes, drawings, screen shots or audio files, anywhere on the document window, just by clicking in a spot. There is no enforced structure or layout requiring useres to “insert here”, encouraging the free-flow of ideas and creative expression. Notes can be shared with fellow users over desktop or mobile and is great for tablet users. This a fantastic tool for brainstorming, creative teams or tracking ideas.


Project Online seeks to handle all your portfolio management needs with one tool—project scheduling, financial reporting, resource allocation, task tracking and more. This portfolio management software is useful for increasing transparency into project status, allowing users to implement changes or onboard new projects more quickly. This achieved through features like the newsfeed, which allows team members to see real-time updates to documents, calendars and team feedback. Project's security can also support collaboration with outside entities such as clients or trusted business partners. With all the data collected in Project, leadership can create dynamic, detailed reports to ensure projects are aligned with the company's strategy and goals. Project Online is most effective when combined with SharePoint and Lync Online.


Design easily with Publisher, entry level software for desktop publishing. Small businesses without in-house design teams get the greatest use from this software, as employees can create their own marketing materials and other creative pieces with ease. Publisher includes features such as simple image import and the ability to easily swap photos, professional-looking effects, online photo access (from Facebook, Flickr, etc), and high resolution photo backgrounds.


Integrate your office with Sharepoint, corporate connection software. Employees are able to connect across the enterprise and engage with other people, information, and projects. It is easy to share and collaborate on documents in real time, connect with social feeds, engage in group and community discussions, and much more. This is the perfect tool for companies looking to become more connected and up their collaboration and teamwork.


Create engaging diagrams and vector graphics to display your data with Visio. If your company deals with complex data, this software will come in handy. You’re able simplify data for presentations to make it understandable at a glance. Teams can work on diagrams and projects together through sharing options. Built-in templates and stencils make it easy to create and customize diagrams.

All of the Office 365 Business Plans (Enterprise E3, Midsize Business and Small Business Premium) include the following applications:

  • Word
  • PowerPoint
  • Excel
  • OneNote
  • Outlook
  • Access
  • Publisher
  • Lync

Now you've been introduced to the entire family of Microsoft Office applications, be sure to get your employees up-to-speed on all the great tools available with OpenSesame Microsoft Office training courses. We have courses for all levels, whether just starting out or getting ready to take certification tests.

Image Credit: The Daring Librarian via Flickr