Project Online’ hidden Gem… Click to Run

Download client softwareFirst let me get this off my chest. Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow.  Ok, now to continue.

Over the past couple of days I have been exploring the new capabilities of Project Online, specifically I have been looking into the experience for new users to the service, things like how quickly they can provision the service and then start to use it in anger.

One of the things I was drawn to was the ability for new users to download the relevant client software from the cloud to their local PC. The ability to download client software in Office 365 is not new, the current 2010 based Office 365 has the option for users to download Office Professional Plus and Lync 2010 directly from within the admin site, in the case of Office Professional Plus, clicking on the link will kick off a rather unpleasant 651MB download.

Classic Office 365 download office client

Not any more it seems. With the new Office 365 preview and a significantly upgrading click to run, you can now ‘stream’ your apps down on to your PC in speeds that will make you say wow (several times).

In the case of Project Online, I was interested in streaming Project Professional down, now called Project Pro, but depending on the Office 365 plan you sign up for you can also stream other Office applications.  To kick off the streaming download, choose ‘Install software and connect it to the cloud’.

Office 365 Preview Settings

In my case I had both Office and Project available to download from my Office 365 tenant.

Install and manage software

Click on ‘The latest version of Project’. A small file download will appear which will control the streaming process.

Install C2R bootstrapper

Clicking on run will initiate the streaming process, a simple wizard is displayed outlining some of the configuration options for Office.

CR2 - Welcome to Office

In under 2 minutes, Project Professional is installed and ready to use (wow).

Project Professional - Ready to use in under 2 minutes

As you can see, the application is still streaming down in the background, but clicking on the icon in the start menu will open it. The streaming technology makes some intelligent decisions around the features of Project you may wish to use and prioritises their streaming order.

After approximately 6 minutes, the whole of the Project Pro desktop application is installed and available (wow again).

Project Professional - You're good to go (in 6 mins)

Project Professional - Streamed and running

Checking back in the administration screen, Office 365 tracks the installation and allows the user to see the licence status and deactivate it if necessary.

Project Professional - Deactivate Licence

What is most impressive is that in the preview at least it seems that users get 5 installations of each piece of software per user (I am not sure if this will be the case with the released software and no licencing details have been released as yet), when coupled with the streaming speed, the idea of quickly installing the software on a PC to make a change to a schedule and then deactivating it is not as daft as it sounds.

With the inclusion of this streaming technology, Project Online and the updated Office 365 when it is available, is sure to become a massive market for Microsoft. It allows organisations and spin up Project Server with a simple per user per month basis from the cloud and providing near instantaneous streaming of the desktop apps. This has significant benefits for consumers, such as reducing the cost of ownership, support and maintenance, but also allowing the service to be scaled as required by simply adding or taking away user subscriptions. With the addition of the new click to run streaming, I can see the death of MSI installs on the horizon.

Wow again Microsoft.