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Microsoft Bringing News Feed Improvements to SharePoint Online

Many of the SharePoint user improvements that Microsoft promised at its SharePoint 2016 launch event last year are starting to take shape.

One that is now starting to roll out to Office 365 users is the improved SharePoint Online team news user experience. It's now getting centralized at the SharePoint home page for "first release" testers. They'll start to see it "in the coming days." Broader product rollout to Office 365 customers is planned for "the coming months," according to Microsoft's announcement on Tuesday.

Team news gets accessed from the SharePoint tile in the Office 365 App Launcher. It delivers a personalized news feed based on an individual's active sites, the sites they follow and suggestions offered from the Microsoft Graph. The Microsoft Graph is search technology that underlies various Office 365 services.

Team news is just the latest user friendly addition to the SharePoint home page.

"With the addition of team news, SharePoint home evolves into an intuitive, single location to see what's happening in all your sites and portals, perform enterprise-wide search, create new sites -- and now read all the news around you," Microsoft's announcement emphasized.

End users also now have some basic copy-and-paste improvements. It's possible to paste tables from Word documents and keep the table's format. Images embedded in a page or in an Office document, along with associated text, can now be copied and pasted. In addition, page-loading performance has been improved for news articles.

Microsoft has also made it easier to add WebParts to team news and pages. Some new capabilities include:

  • Link sharing to internal and external pages
  • Picture collection sharing (using a carousel or tile layout)
  • Bing Maps additions
  • Quick Chart creation for simple charts

There's also a Power BI URL WebParts embedding capability for pages, but it's currently at the preview stage. Microsoft's complete WebParts list can be found at this page.

Microsoft also announced a couple of SharePoint mobile application improvements. The improvements will appear if the apps are newly installed, or users can wait for a store update.

The SharePoint mobile app for Android devices now shows personalized team news via a News tab. It's been possible to view news on those devices for a couple of months, but now the team news will show personalized information based on the Microsoft Graph.

The SharePoint mobile app for iOS devices now lets users create news, which can then be published and will appear across SharePoint home pages and on a team site.

Microsoft is also planning to add a News tab to its SharePoint app for Windows 10 Mobile, but no timeline was announced.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.