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Innovate or Die

Microsoft Whiteboard: Where people, content and ideas come together

I discovered MS Whiteboard a couple months ago and immediately fell in love. It is a very simple tool, but it is powerful, useful, and growing. Let’s dig into what Whiteboard is and why it’s so amazing!

Microsoft Whiteboard is exactly what the name states. It is a digital whiteboard the includes the tools you wish you had when standing in front of the analog whiteboard in a conference room and adds the ability to share the whiteboard with other people in your meeting to allow immediate, simultaneous collaboration.

Have you ever attended a brainstorming session in which 10 people shout ideas and 1 person tries to write them all on the board? Have you used sticky notes to add ideas to the whiteboard and then rearrange them into categories? How many times have you handed markers to other people to allow them to draw on the board? At the end of the meeting, when the next meeting kicks you out of the room, did you take a picture of the whiteboard before erasing it? Microsoft Whiteboard takes care of all these scenarios for you.

I started by downloading the app to my Surface 4 from the Windows App Store, and after enabling its use in the Admin panel, I was immediately able to use Whiteboard. There was no learning curve! There’s no ribbon full of features and options that I had to dig through, just a white screen and an assortment of different markers and eraser across the bottom. I instantly knew what to do, so I pulled the pen off the side of my surface, selected a marker, and started drawing. Because the screen of the surface is not as wide as my imagination (or ability to draw inside the lines), I quickly started drawing past the edge of the screen. The whiteboard grew with my drawing!!!

To the right of the markers and eraser is a ruler image. I clicked on it, and a ruler appeared on my whiteboard. I was able to control it with 2 fingers of my left hand while drawing perfectly straight lines with the pen in my right hand. That never happens in freehand on the analog whiteboard!

Next, I noticed a + sign next to the markers, so I clicked it. It opened a list of options to put other elements onto my whiteboard. Check that out; I can add images from my hard drive or from Bing right there with my pen – no mouse required. And Sticky Notes!!! Oh look! When I add text to the Sticky Notes and move them around, the text moves with them – and I can set different colors of Sticky Notes. That makes organizing them later easier. When I clicked the gear, I figured out that I could create shapes and tables using my pen. Microsoft can figure out what shapes I’m trying to make and snap the lines in for me. Amazing!!!

I know I said “collaboration tool”, so here we go. The last major thing I noticed was the blue Person+ icon. Clicking the Person+ icon allowed me to use my pen to write my colleague’s name and add her to my Whiteboard. There’s another option to get a link to send out to meeting recipients. You don’t even have to give individuals permissions if you send them the link. Then you get into the meeting and have everyone open the whiteboard, and each person can collaborate on the whiteboard at the same time, even if they are not in the room with you. And instead of taking a picture of the analog whiteboard after the meeting, you can just close the app, and it is saved to the cloud. If you specifically need a picture to include in a PowerPoint or something, you can easily export the entire whiteboard to PNG file through the gear.

Oh, and 1 more thing! While Microsoft is specifically optimizing the Whiteboard app for use with the pen, your colleagues that don’t have Surfaces are not left out completely. Microsoft built finger painting and mouse capabilities as well. So go download the app from the Windows Store or iTunes App Store, or get it from whiteboard.microsoft.com and start collaborating today.

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