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New Microsoft Lists tracks info in 365 productivity suite

Microsoft Lists, launching in July, is intended to help organizations store and track selected information from 365. Lists will come with the productivity suite.

Microsoft plans to launch Microsoft Lists this month, an application that draws and tracks information from 365 products Excel, Teams and OneDrive.

The company announced the rollout of Lists at this week's Inspire reseller event. Microsoft has developed the application to provide a centralized location in which workers can see and update information. As companies already store much information using Microsoft products like Excel, such data could be brought to Lists quickly.

SharePoint, a collaboration platform within Microsoft 365, already lets companies build lists of user-selected information. However, Lists is a progression of that SharePoint feature, Microsoft said.

Unlike SharePoint, Lists will get cross-functionality with Teams in August. Through that feature, users will be able to view and edit lists from within Teams. Microsoft expects to release an iOS Lists app later this year.

Lists will contain several templates, including a project planner, event planner, employee onboarding checklist and issue tracker. The project manager would be used to track the various tasks needed to complete the work, with workers updating their status and receiving notifications as events progress. The event planner could track such things as session types, speakers and room capacity.

Analysts said Microsoft is bolstering its office productivity offerings as it competes with Google's G Suite, which has seen recent improvements. Though Lists' integration with other Microsoft products is a plus, it is unclear how organizations will choose to use the software, if at all, they said.

Craig Roth, an analyst at Gartner, said the software has some useful capabilities, but it is difficult to determine its defining use case. He said Microsoft seems to be launching a "vanilla" version of the software, intending to see how organizations would use it.

"If the customers all want to take that foundation and add caramel and marshmallows to it, then I'm sure the next release will have caramel options with marshmallow integration built in," he said.

Independent analyst Eric Klein said one key Microsoft 365 advantage over G Suite is better inter-operability within the suite of products. That edge could grow with the number of 365 products that connect to Lists.

"The office wars are still going on, which is amazing to me," he said.

Throughout the war, Microsoft has continued to hold dominance over the enterprise market. Though Google reported more than 6 million paying G Suite customers in March, Microsoft maintains the lion's share of business users.

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