Connected Experiences now in Office 365


Microsoft has something ‘new’ in Office 365 they call ‘Connected Experiences’. It’s really a new, fancy name for things we already have.

Connected Experiences is the new catchphrase for the cloud services already in Office 365 software or apps. It’s the various features which require customer data sent to Microsoft’s servers.

According to Microsoft:

“Office 365 has a number of helpful features that are backed by cloud-based services, which we call “Connected Experiences”, that provide essential functionality for those features.”

No mention of the customer data and document details sent and logged by Microsoft. Every time you use one of their ‘Connected Experiences’.

Features = Experiences

We used to call parts of Office ‘features’ but that’s old-fashioned 2018 thinking.

Now we use ‘Experiences’ in Office, a common word now reborn as marketing hype and obfuscation. <sigh>.

Types of cloud features (sorry ‘Connected Experiences’)

Microsoft groups the Connected Experience into two areas: downloading content and analyzing documents.

Both types of Experience send personal data to Microsoft to varying degrees.

The two groupings are important because you can only control these cloud connected features as a group, not individually.

Download Content

For some time, Office has features to download more content from Microsoft.

Despite Microsoft’s implications, using these services still reveals some private information to Microsoft. In particular, to use the Stock Data Type means telling Microsoft which stocks, funds or indexes you want information on.

File | New lets you search the online library of templates and download what you choose.

A similar feature for getting images or clipart from a Microsoft storehouse. Insert Online Pictures/Video/3D Models,

These days there’s a lot more connections available like Researcher, Tell Me, Icons and, of course, Excel’s Stock and Geography data types.

Analyze Content

Microsoft’s other type of Connected Service send more information to the company for analysis and return to your document.

These services include the Alt Text service which sends inserted pictures to Microsoft and sends back some identifying text – with varying degrees of success.  At least this service has a separate on/off switch unlike many other connected services.

PowerPoint Designer, PowerPoint Live Captions and Titles, Dictation, Translation, Ink to …. Text, Shape or Math, Research, Editor, Smart Lookup, Transform to Web Page and others send document info to Microsoft.

Many of those are fairly obviously sending data to Microsoft but users might be surprised that the Word Editor or three Ink to … options have a cloud component.

Why the name change?

No word from Microsoft on the name change to ‘Connected Experiences’.

The term ‘cloud’ is getting a bad name for privacy and security. Perhaps Redmond is hoping that ‘Connected’ will fool people into thinking this is something different?

As they say in Thailand “Same, Same, but different”.  In the west it’s called ‘re-branding’.


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