SharePoint Online To Hit Some Feature Milestones in Q4

Some of the SharePoint and OneDrive milestones that Microsoft announced during its Ignite event last month are fast-approaching.

A few security, compliance and management features will be arriving sometime this month and by year's end, according to a Tuesday announcement by Bill Baer, a senior product marketing manager for SharePoint at Microsoft. Progress on those milestones will get updated in the future on a monthly basis, Baer said.

'Unified Labels' in October
This month, the Microsoft Security and Compliance Center portal has a more consistent way to create labels for protecting information, which is happening through user interface improvements to the portal's Labels menu. Baer called it a "unified labels" approach.

"Unified labels provide a single location to create and configure data sensitivity labels for both Azure Information Protection and Office 365, so you can set up protection and retention labels and policies in the same place," he explained.

During a September Ignite keynote talk, Microsoft had promised to deliver "Retention Labels" in November and "Classification Labels" in December. In addition, a new "Label Analytics" capability will be coming to the Microsoft Security and Compliance Center, Microsoft had indicated back then. Baer's announcement confirmed those plans, and clarified that Label Analytics "will begin rolling out in Q4 2018." Label Analytics can show information such as who has applied labels, as well as "unusual trends" in labeling.

In addition, Retention Labels will be getting a new "file plans" capability sometime in "Q4 2018." This feature adds "identifiers, departments, categories, statutory references and more" to Retention Labels. It'll be possible to export these file plans from Office 365 "for easy editing in Excel," Baer explained.

Multi-Geo Support in October
The Multi-Geo Capabilities for SharePoint Online, announced during the Ignite keynote, are available this month, according to Baer. This capability is mostly of interest to European Union countries, which may have data sovereignty requirements to keep data more locally housed.

At press time, Microsoft's Multi-Geo landing page didn't list SharePoint Online as an option. Baer didn't specify which Azure regions now provide the Multi-Geo support for SharePoint Online.

SharePoint Admin Center Previews in October
A number of new capabilities will be coming to the SharePoint Admin Center portal in a "target release" sometime this month.

For instance, the portal is getting the ability to better manage group-connected sites. Microsoft also simplified Hub Site management using the portal.

"Now in the SharePoint admin center, you can manage existing hub sites in addition to creating hub sites and associating existing sites with a hub site," Baer explained. "These capabilities also extend to multi-geo scenarios."

The site creation process is getting improved in the SharePoint Admin Center, too. IT pros can "configure common settings such as language, time zone, and storage limit." The path can be specified for classic sites and Communication Sites. Global settings were added, including "the time zone and site creation path."

The portal now shows an organization's "tenant-level storage usage and limit." It's also possible to specify "more than one or two administrators for a site collection."

There's a new Access Control page in the portal for configuring device policies. It'll work with unmanaged devices, too, according to Baer.

"On the new access control page, you can configure policies for unmanaged or non-compliant devices, configure the idle-session sign-out experience for users, as well as configure location policies to restrict or allow access to SharePoint Online from known IP ranges," he indicated.

Files Restore in December
Microsoft plans to bring its Files Restore capability to SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams. This capability will be available for those services as a "Targeted Release in December 2018." Files Restore already works with SharePoint document libraries, Microsoft's announcement indicated.

Files Restore is a "self-service recovery solution" that can be used by site administrators. It allows them to restore document libraries "from any point in time during the last 30 days."

External Sharing
Additionally, Baer confirmed Microsoft's plans to enable external sharing using the Azure Active Directory B2B (Business to Business) service with SharePoint Online. It'll enable a "one-time passcode experience when sharing SharePoint sites and lists" with external users, he explained.

It's not clear from the announcement when this external sharing capability will be available.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.