What is Delve and what does it mean for Microsoft Office?
At the recent Microsoft conference there was mention of Microsoft Delve. But what the ?^%$ is ‘Delve’?
It’s an enhanced search tool for your documents and online info. Not just standard Office documents but also videos, audio, links to web sites etc that are posted on SharePoint. It tracks your online actions and then tries to display content based on those actions.
Delve will be available to some Office 365 customers (presumably those on business plans) by the end of 2014.
Delve can be setup with links to the various places your data is stored, on the current computer, network shares and online storage.
The default display shows you ‘the most interesting, most useful and most relevant information from across all of Office 365’ using machine learning and artificial intelligence. Microsoft puts it:
“Delve highlights key information of interest to you, based on what you are working on and the actions of people in your network.”
So it’s a little like web ads from Google and Microsoft. Both keep track of what you’re doing online and display ads based on what web sites you’re looking at. Delve does a similar thing, watching what documents etc. you work on and displaying your personal content based on that.
Obviously, Delve only shows you documents and content that you have permission to view or modify within network shares or OneDrive.
Delve looks for images within the documents and puts them up as part of the search result. Microsoft calls this, and I’m not kidding, ‘to really celebrate the content’.
Delve is more than a single view, there’s a Find option.
There’s some default search options:
- Presented to me
- Modified by me
- Like by me
- Shared with me
- Trending around me
- Viewed by me
Delve knows these things because of ‘Office Graph’ that tracks your actions.
‘Trending around’ means documents and items that the people you work with are currently looking at or working with.
As you type in a search, Delve will try to guess results. If you’re searching for a co-worker it will show not just results with that persons name, but also documents modified by that person and a ‘Trending around’ link. Another view of a co-worker shows where they fit in the organization, sorry, ‘celebrate people’ or ‘make people shine’ in Microsoft speak (again, not kidding):
Much of this information is already visible in SharePoint / Exchange but ‘We both work with’ and ‘Working with’ is based on tracking workflow with Office Graph.
The main demos of Delve use Windows 8 but we’re told it’ll be available for any Office 365 supported browser like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.
Until very recently ‘Delve’ was called ‘Oslo’ in-house at Microsoft. The name change is so new that you’ll still see plenty of references to Oslo, including in the demonstrations.
You can see the Microsoft demo for yourself. Jump to 4:00 to skip the usual hype and well-meaning but wooden chat to get to the meat of the demo.
We’ve not used Delve/Oslo but a few things occur to us, aside from some of the most awful marketing phrases of recent times.
It will be interesting to see how well Delve does at displaying items truly relevant to what someone is doing right now. Few of us work at a single task as envisaged by Delve. Most people skip between different tasks or might be diverted from their main job to some side-project for some hours or days. How well will Delve work in such common situations? Can you tell Delve to stop showing items related to a particular subject or do you have to wait until it figures it out?
There was no mention or display of emails within Delve. Does it work with all Office supported document types or just docx/xlsx/pptx .
The default image display is nice. It’ll be interesting to know how this is controlled. Can you choose the image displayed or stop an image showing up at all? There may be images inside a document that you don’t want visible for whatever reason.