8×8 Inc. has expanded on their Virtual Office Desktop platform and in doing so, the provider has condensed operability and increased accessibility. That being said, 8×8’s virtual office desktop now works as a program more than a web portal. Where the previous incarnation opened as a web page—which could pop out as its own window—8×8’s upgraded desktop client opens directly in its own window. In addition to this, the upgraded virtual office better lends itself to users’ desktops as it opens automatically upon booting up your computer. Also, you can choose to integrate the desktop client even further by assigning it a desktop shortcut. With this increased desktop interconnectivity, 8×8’s updated desktop client allows for easier management of calls and messages through alerts and notifications for all incoming calls and messages.

Aside from desktop integration, one update that I found particularly beneficial was the software’s lack of dependence on web pages. Accessing the Virtual Office can now be done separate from a web page—i.e. from shortcut or initial sign in window. With this, you no longer have to worry about loading errors, as access is much more simple and direct. Aside from access, the updated virtual office’s interface benefits from a simplified design that condenses function into a slim, size efficient window. In this window function is broken down into four general categories (each with subheadings): Virtual Office Desktop, Actions, Views, and Help. While this categorical breakdown ultimately eases navigation, it does take some time to get your footing.

8×8’s Virtual Office updated skin also provides users with personal account information and preference. For example, under the four categories above, you can view your own account information (name, number, extension, etc.), as well as set your availability options—Available, Do Not Disturb, Busy, Invisible, and Custom—and set the device being seen (softphone, desk phone, etc.). Also, from here users can set status messages that are displayed to other users. All this is readily available to users at the top of the window.

As mentioned above, the virtual office breaks down function into categories—each with their own capabilities. The Virtual Office Desktop tab primarily allows users to edit the settings of their account with options including Quick Search, Close Window, Settings, Log Out, and Exit. Additionally, under Settings, users are able to modify every aspect of the virtual office including General Information, Audio &Video, Profile, Contacts, Services, Call Forwarding, and E911.

Users should note that there is a cog icon in the bottom left corner of the window, which serves as a shortcut to the Settings menu.  As with account information, this cog icon is always available in the lower left-hand corner, where users are able to easily modify and manage their account at any point. Additionally, the other tabs have their own functions as well—the Views tab brings users directly to calls, messages, faxes, history, etc., and the Help tab offers users support through updates, user guides, feedback, and other instructional information. Lastly, the Actions tab is where all functional capability lies. This tab gives users access points to: make a call, add contacts, send a fax, create a meeting, and view history. While these can be accessed here, they’re also available as icons (with expanded function) directly under your name and availability.

Aside from function, Virtual office Beta also allows users to monitor and view capacity (by KB) of Call Recordings, Meeting Recordings, and Remaining space. From this menu, users are also able to manage their call recordings. Newer users may want to familiarize themselves with their system further before referencing this; however, once you are comfortable with navigating your virtual office, this capacity tool will help you manage your files.

8×8’s Virtual Office Desktop update may seem stripped down, but it bolsters a ton of features. While initial navigation may take a little while to get used to, the desktop client ultimately benefits from a categorical menu breakdown—users just need to familiarize themselves with the layout. Where the previous incarnation showcased its operability more openly, this upgrade better organizes the virtual office’s functions and capabilities. Ultimately 8×8’s Virtual Office Desktop upgrade is a big improvement over the previous incarnation. Though its layout may be somewhat off putting at first, it’s easy to get past and learn quickly.