Enabling the Microsoft Whiteboard to work with Office 365

If you’ve ever worked with the Microsoft Whiteboard on a Surface Hub with the Creators Update installed, you’ll know that the whiteboard experience is fantastic.

Where it has fallen down is that it was restricted to only being available on a Surface Hub – so normal Windows 10 users could not interact with the whiteboards. Customers would have to resort to third-party apps such as Stormboard.

Last week the Whiteboard was released into public preview, and I’ve been very much looking forward to this as have many Surface Hub customers.

To be able to store & retrieve canvasses or share them with other people you need to sign in with Office 365 credentials or a Microsoft account (formerly known as Live ID).

Unlike some previous Office 365 app releases however, the Whiteboard is turned off by default which means that users will be greeted with the warning that “Your admin has disabled sign in for Whiteboard”:

The fix is simple – enable it!

Simply go to the Office 365 admin portal, navigate to Settings and then to “Services & add-ins”, where you will see the new Whiteboard option:

You will see that it is set to Off, so slide it over to On and press save:

The effect is immediate, and you’ll then be able to log in straight away and start working on whiteboards together!

This is an all or nothing approach, and at this point there are no administrative controls to enable or disable this on a per-user level – so you will need to be wary of content being stored in yet another location.

The whiteboard is quite simple and easy enough to use, but at the end of the day it is a blank canvas. If you are looking more a more structure canvas check out www.stormboard.com as it provides a whole raft of features that enhance productivity and collaboration when whiteboarding.

Turn any room into a conference room – part 3

In my previous two posts I shared the hardware that I use for audio as well as what I use for video. So what’s left?

Letting other people see your screen, or work together on a whiteboard.

Sure you can run a long HDMI cable but it makes it a bit messy and dangerous. Devices like the Surface Pro 3 have Miracast built into them (aka WiDi) which allows you to connect your device to an external screen. At the Paradyne office we use a Netgear Push2TV device which works fairly well. This supports up to 1080p and is very easy to set up and get going, and retails for around $67 RRP.

What this allows you to do is also use your tablet and corresponding screen as a portable whiteboard. Instead of having a whiteboard and markers – simply use the Surface Pro 3 and the supplied stylus (or equivalent tablet device). Sure it’s not Surface Hub, but it’s a lot cheaper!

I use this setup on video calls using Skype for Business where we share the whiteboard in the meeting, instead of having an expensive digital device or having to point the camera at it.

Combined with the audio & video hardware devices I wrote about previously – for very little money you’ve now turned virtually any room into a conference room.

 

(NOTE: I am aware that Microsoft has a Wireless Display Adapter however it wasn’t available when I first wanted to use Miracast with my Surface Pro 3 so I haven’t had the opportunity to test it and am still happy with the Netgear Push2TV.)