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Microsoft launches Planner, Project Management App

Microsoft launches Planner, Project Management App 

Today Microsoft launched Office 365 Planner, a new project management tool for teams. The company will be rolling out Planner worldwide to Office 365 users, including Business Essentials, Office 365 Enterprise E1–E5, Premium, and Education subscription plans. The Planner tile will look in our Office 365 app launcher, meaning Office 365 admins don’t need to take any action.

Microsoft uses the well-known concept of a digital whiteboard plastered with note cards, which user can use to track projects, communicate progress, and attach files. It also incorporates with other Microsoft products like Outlook and OneNote.

The planner does, however, have the advantage of appealing to customers who may not be aware or comfortable with apps from startups they've never heard of. In fact, Microsoft declares it's convinced the local government of Cascais, Portugal to move its entire workflow over to Planner. It's likely the company can demand to similar and more traditional clients who are familiar with Office products and tend to shy away from software made by and for Silicon Valley.

The planner has a marked emphasis on team collaboration: responsibilities can be assigned to individual team members and users can get a visual overview of task progress, responsibilities, and upcoming deadlines.

Existing Office users needn't do anything to access the app, as the title should appear in the Office 365 launcher as soon as it becomes presented. 

“Microsoft Planner and Microsoft Project are very different solutions aimed at very different sets of end users,” a Microsoft spokesperson told VentureBeat. “While Office 365 Planner is a Work Management solution that helps teams of Information workers better organize and manage teamwork visually, Microsoft Project is an industry leading PPM (Project Portfolio Management) offering that helps companies manage a complex portfolio of projects and programs. Microsoft Project has a lot of unique PPM capabilities such as Program and Portfolio Management, Resource Capacity Management, Financial Management, Timesheeting and Schedule Management.”

Microsoft Planner competes with project management application Trello, which was introduced in 2011. It became widely popular within a year of its launch and has over 10 million users.

Microsoft has been “working closely with a variety of Office 365 customers from around the world” since the preview arrived. Going forward, the company is asking for feedback from all Planner users over on its UserVoice service. “We are committed to reading every piece of feedback we receive and turning that into action so that we can continue to improve Planner,” the team promised.

Microsoft similarly shared some of Planner’s future roadmap. New features coming in the next few months contain the ability to assign a task to multiple users, external user access, multiple users, plan templates, and customizable boards, as well as iOS, Android, and Windows apps.

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