How to create, collaborate, & share ideas with Office 365 Whiteboard app?

In case, you have ever witnessed how to use Microsoft Surface Hub, you sure have heard about whiteboard app or might have seen it at work in some point of your life. The primary objective of the Whiteboard app is to transform the Surface Hub Screen into an infinite easy-to-use canvas. The only thing that undermined the application in the past was its inability to share the Whiteboard content with other users.

At the onset, it only worked with the Surface Hub devices, and no matter how hard you try, there was just no possible scenario to enable Office 365 users to share the Whiteboard content.

After a long gap, Microsoft enabled Office 365 users to enjoy the collaborative experience with Whiteboard app, allowing them to share content prepared on Whiteboard with associated members. Since the preview release in December 2018, Whiteboard app is available for almost everyone.

For instance, if a designer is depicting an illustration on the Whiteboard app displayed on Surface Hub Device, all the members in the room can interact with shared Whiteboard document through their own Windows PCs.


Now, before we embark the ride that takes us throughout the history of whiteboard app and its integration with Windows OS and Office 365 portal, let’s have a quick glance on how Whiteboard app came into existence.

Whiteboard is a freeform digital canvas that helps bring together ideas, people, and contents on a single platform to foster the unity of ideas. It enables teams to have a collaborative approach to brainstorming new ideas where every member can easily contribute their mind and forward content for everyone to propose their opinion.

It gives a room for ideas to flourish and help transform your work into a professional-looking chart by using a freeform, intelligent and infinite canvas for real-time ideation, creation and collaboration.

How to access the Whiteboard app through Office 365 portal?

To deploy the whiteboard app, it is inevitable for you to enable the app within your subscribed Office 365 product. To do so, you need to follow a set of instructions:

  • Open the Office 365 Admin app
  • Go to “Services” and Add-ins and Click the “Whiteboard” option
  • Use the slide bar on the next screen to turn the Whiteboard on

A quick glance in the past of Whiteboard app

Strangely, whoever brought the idea of not allowing the Whiteboard app to be downloaded through Office 365 portal, wasn’t thinking about the future aspects of the app. Before Microsoft’s official release of a preview of the app in December 2018, the application wasn’t even accessible for users on Windows devices. There is no official reason for this setup, only speculations.

There were two possible reasons why Microsoft never allowed Office 365 users to download Whiteboard:

  • Firstly – the Whiteboard app was initially designed for the Surface Hub Devices to help access control of Surface presentation without using traditional input devices such as keyboard or mouse. The Whiteboard app was optimized for screen touch and Surface pen input.

Please Note: While you can draw on whiteboard by using a mouse, keyboard integration was never an option. The lack of keyboard support for PC users was the primary reason they never gave much credit to Whiteboard app.

  • Secondly – the other possible reason for Microsoft downplaying the app is that PC users already have a better option – OneNote. The whiteboard app perfectly resembles the OneNote version that was designed for Windows Phone 7 a long time ago.

Please Note: It supported basic features but the latest PC version of OneNote is far superior and feature-rich than any previous version.

What should you expect from the future?

The collaboration across multiple Office 365 users might soon become available as well. The whiteboard app will soon be coming to iOS devices and will be accessible through Android OS platform via whiteboard Web Client Preview.

In conclusion

In the end, I would like to congratulate Microsoft for 2018 preview release. Fortunately, that scenario is no longer preventing Office 365 tenants to acquire Whiteboard app for commercial purposes and across users with Microsoft accounts. Since releasing the preview of the app in December 2018, more than 200,000 users have fine-tuned the feature set and user experience.

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