Microsoft Readies Users for New SharePoint Online Updates
- By Gladys Rama
- May 08, 2013
UPDATE, 5/9: The new version of SharePoint Online has been available for purchase since Feb. 27, with the launch of the new Office 365. According to a Microsoft spokesperson, Microsoft's Wednesday announcement was meant to "to educate existing customers who haven't yet received some of the new updates for SharePoint Online and help them to prepare for the upgrade."
SharePoint Online is the Office 365-hosted version of Microsoft's SharePoint Server. The latest version previously was at the preview stage, but it's now generally available. Current users of SharePoint Online will be able to upgrade to the new release "soon," according to a post on Microsoft's SharePoint team blog. The team did not give a specific date, but existing customers will get a month's advance notice.
"Office 365 customers will be notified approximately four weeks prior to their upgrade and will have the opportunity to postpone for a minimum of two months," the blog stated.
Current SharePoint Online users can get more details about the upgrade process at this blog post. Meanwhile, new users can purchase SharePoint Online here.
Microsoft will bring various new features and improvements with this SharePoint Online release. "We received tons of actionable feedback resulting in new features customers want, improved performance, simple user experiences, more admin controls and the stability they expect," according to the SharePoint team.
Mark Kashman, a SharePoint senior product manager, previewed the "top 10" changes in SharePoint Online in a blog post last month:
- Yammer. As promised, SharePoint Online users, as well as Office 365 subscribers who purchase the Yammer feature, will have access to the Yammer enterprise social networking application. SharePoint Newsfeed will remain the default "in the short term," though users will have the option to move to Yammer.
- SkyDrive Pro. SharePoint Online users with Personal Site use rights get access to Microsoft's cloud-based SkyDrive Pro storage service, including 7 GB of storage (up from 500 MB). Mobile device access to SkyDrive Pro will expand with the arrival of native client apps for Windows 8- and iOS-based devices, which are expected "by the end of June 2013," according to Kashman.
- User Interface. The new release is easier to navigate with the addition of touch capabilities and asynchronous calls. Drag-and-drop has been enabled for moving files between the desktop to a SharePoint document library. A fixed navigation bar lets users navigate through Office 365 easily.
- Guest Links. Subscribers can share SharePoint Online documents and files to users both inside and outside their company with this new feature. Guests can have both Read and Write access, depending on the level of permission the subscriber gives them.
- Public Website. The Public Website has been redesigned and now includes more features for customization. "Because the website is built on the SharePoint platform, you now get publishing capabilities, more Web parts (social media add-ins, blogging and commenting, new Apps for SharePoint from the Office Store), SEO property options and advanced design options," Kashman said.
- E-Discovery. SharePoint Online gives users a single e-discovery management site to organize and add sources, or create new content queries.
- Site Mailbox. Site Mailboxes, which can be accessed through both SharePoint Online and Outlook 2013, let users organize multiple related e-mails and documents into one project-specific inbox. The e-mails retain their original locations in Exchange Online and SharePoint online.
- Enterprise Search. Besides improving the accuracy and relevance of search results, SharePoint Online now lets users access key information on specific search results by hovering their cursor over the result. This "on-hover" feature lets users view contact information (in the case of a person search) or a document preview (for a document search). Additionally, a new "hybrid search" capability lets users perform searches across on-premises SharePoint and SharePoint Online.
- Cloud App Model. "The Cloud App Model in SharePoint Online enables you to build apps for SharePoint by using familiar tools and a rich set of features," Kashman said. "For the developer and IT Pro audiences, SharePoint Online in Office 365 now includes this new programming model for the development, installation, management, and use of apps. Users can discover and download apps from the SharePoint Store, or from their organization's own Corporate Catalog."
- PowerShell. Administrators can now use the SharePoint Online Management Shell to script and run multiple automated tasks at once, including upgrade activities, repair sites, manage recycle bins, and manage groups and users.