Microsoft Prepares Rollout of OneDrive for Business Improvements
- By Kurt Mackie
- April 14, 2016
Microsoft plans to roll out several enhancements to its OneDrive for Business product over the next couple of months.
First, users of the cloud-based storage service will receive synchronization improvements this week and the next. Second, improvements for Android and iOS devices will arrive "in the coming weeks." Lastly, organizations will get some administrative capabilities for managing OneDrive for Business accounts by the end of this month, per Microsoft's announcement.
Sync Client Improvements
Microsoft updated the OneDrive for Business "sync client." IT pros now can "block certain file types" from syncing, which can be helpful to address potential bandwidth issues. Microsoft's announcement didn't explain which files could be blocked, but its examples included .PST and .MKV files.
Another coming IT pro perk is sync client support for Windows 8.1 devices when using OneDrive for Business. Apparently, that support had lagged a bit.
Quite a lot of the OneDrive for Business sync client improvements are feature improvements for end users. They can now add "any file type" to their OneDrive for Business storage using the sync client. Users can open files in OneDrive for Business from Windows Explorer on the desktop by using the right mouse button to click on a file.
Coming this summer, end users will be able to suspend file syncing for a period of time. For instance, it can be done for the duration of an airline flight. Microsoft calls this capability "pause syncing."
Also this summer, Microsoft plans OneDrive for Business integration with Office 2016 to enable "real-time coauthoring, open documents from the Most Recent list and share documents" capabilities.
In June, there will be the ability for IT pros to "throttle bandwidth consumption of the client," Microsoft promised, regarding the OneDrive for Business sync client.
Later this year, Microsoft plans to make it possible for end users to share or link files by simply clicking on a file in Windows Explorer using the right mouse button.
There's also a bit of SharePoint news in the mix. Microsoft plans to add a SharePoint Online document library sync capability. It'll appear as a preview in Q3 of this year. General availability is planned for the end of this year.
OneDrive for Business is getting integrated with Outlook apps for Android and iOS devices, Microsoft announced.
In "coming weeks," it will be possible to share OneDrive for Business files via e-mail from Android and iOS devices. For instance, end users can attach a link to a file in an e-mail. This sharing capability is particularly getting enhanced for iOS devices, with options to share files from "SMS, Mail, Outlook Mobile, Copy Link (both Edit and Read-only links), Invite People and others," Microsoft's announcement clarified.
End users of Android devices also are getting a "PDF viewing and annotation experience and an embedded Office Lens experience" with OneDrive for Business. Office Lens is a Microsoft application that takes photos for note-taking purposes, with optimal automatic cropping built into the app. It also will digitize text in those images for search purposes, as well as to enable copy-and-paste capability.
The Office 365 data loss prevention capability is rolling out this week for OneDrive for Business users of Android and iOS devices. It lets organizations set restrictions on data sharing, such as disallowing access to e-mail attachments that show credit card numbers.
IT pros can now set expiration dates for link sharing to OneDrive files for Android and iOS devices. While end users also can set expiration dates, they can't set them for longer than those set by IT pros.
IT pros will be getting a new capability by the end of this month that will let them block sharing with domains that they specify in a list. This capability can be used to ward off sharing information with competing companies, for instance. IT pros can list the domains that should be blocked or the domains that are white-listed for sharing. However, it's an either/or proposition. They can't specify both.
Sharing files with users outside an organization is now more simplified, according to Microsoft. Recipients don't need an Office 365 or Microsoft account to open a file that gets shared from OneDrive for Business. Instead, they'll get prompted to enter an e-mail address, phone number and password to set up an account. When that's done, the recipient can then access the file.
Microsoft also improved the "Shared with Me" list view in OneDrive for Business. Users can now trim down that list. Deleting items just affects the view. It doesn't affect the linked files or folders. Users can still search for them after altering the Shared with Me list.
All of these OneDrive for Business improvements are outlined by Reuben Krippner, director of product management for OneDrive for Business. He talks about them in this Microsoft video.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.