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December 8, 2016

Technology Corner


Office 365 comes to Pitt

One of the faculty and staff benefits of working at the University is being able to access a range of software for both professional and personal use. Now that Pitt is moving fully to Office 365 as part of its unified communication efforts, that benefit to you has expanded to include a powerful set of cloud services and, for many people, the ability to install the full versions of Microsoft Office 2016 on up to five computers.

Office 365 features online versions of familiar Microsoft applications (Word, Excel, PowerPoint) and adds email access, cloud storage and a suite of other applications. This online access means you can work without having Office installed on your computer and independent of your operating platform.

New applications currently associated with Office 365 include OneDrive, Office 365 Groups, Delve, SharePoint Online, Skype for Business, Sway, Forms, Planner, Video, Class Notebook and Staff Notebook.

Office 365: Email — and more

Office 365 email is a cloud-based version of the My Pitt Email service and provides 50 GB of email storage, constantly updated; new features; and additional integration with other Office 365 tools.

Pitt students have used the Office 365 Email platform for two years; by the end of January, all University email boxes will be moved to the cloud. CSSD staff are working closely with departments throughout this process to ensure a smooth transition.

What will you notice once your Pitt email account is on Office 365?

• Easier scheduling. For many of us, finding a good meeting time is one of University life’s regular challenges. With Office 365 for Pitt email, faculty and staff can now use FindTime, which shows the days and times that work best for you and your meeting attendees. Based on those results, participants then can vote for proposed times, allowing the group to come to a consensus. Once that time is selected, FindTime can send the meeting invitation on your behalf.

• Coordinated group email work. Office 365 Groups is another useful tool within the Office 365 version of My Pitt Email. Office 365 Groups works with the Office 365 applications that you already use to allow easy collaboration when working on documents and sending email in a group setting.

With Office 365 Groups, you can create an email distribution list that includes a shared document library, notebook and planning tool. These added features allow your group to store and easily access files, take meeting notes and organize/assign tasks among members of the group.

Additional applications

Office 365 provides other new ways to collaborate:

• Store files on OneDrive, where you can share those files internally or externally and work together simultaneously on the same document. Your Office 365 account comes with 5-terabyte cloud storage using OneDrive, and you can increase storage as much as needed.

Files stored in your associated OneDrive account can be accessed anywhere in the world at any time from many different types of devices.

• Coordinate projects with a SharePoint site. SharePoint Online allows students, faculty and staff to create collaborative websites that can be used to share files, assign tasks, write blogs and much more.

Each person at the University has a personal My Site on Sharepoint. Additional site collections can be requested for a department, team or project. For instance, the search committee for the new director of the University Library System used Sharepoint to make the CVs of its candidates available to everyone at the University.

These Office 365 features are free to all faculty, staff, students and sponsored accounts in the University.

Bonus perk: Office Pro Plus

Also available with Office 365 is Office Pro Plus. As mentioned earlier, this allows members of the University community to install the full versions of Microsoft Office 2016 on up to five computers and provides access to Office’s mobile applications on Android and iOS.

Access to Office Pro Plus requires a license. The University has negotiated a site license that authorizes all students and teaching faculty to access the entire suite of Office 365 web applications at no individual cost. In addition, non-teaching faculty and staff who are members of a department that has purchased a yearly subscription to the Microsoft campus agreement can use the Office Pro Plus features.

Getting started

To log in and start using Office 365 at Pitt — or to get more information about the service — visit You can connect to your Office 365 here or dive into more specific information about applications like SharePoint and OneDrive. As new Office 365 applications are released, we’ll include information about them here, too.

If you have questions about Office 365 or if you’d like to share your experience with using any of its functions, please let me know (

Jeff Rhoades is a service owner in CSSD, helping to assess and address the Pitt community’s needs regarding Office 365 and other services. He also collects vinyl records.

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