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SharePoint Premium Announced at Ignite Event

SharePoint Premium, a somewhat new product, was announced this week at Microsoft Ignite.

Microsoft argued that SharePoint Premium will be needed as organizations begin leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) solutions with their data, such as using Microsoft's emerging Copilot AI products.

Microsoft Syntex Gets Renamed
SharePoint Premium sounds like it’s some sort of new bundled product offering, but it's actually the new name for Microsoft Syntex, a so-called Project Cortex "knowledge network" effort introduced a couple of year ago. Microsoft Syntex uses AI to sift through organizational data and automate processes.

Microsoft Syntex early on had been called "SharePoint Syntex," but Microsoft later changed the name, dropping "SharePoint." However, the new name didn't offer much clarity about the product's relationship with SharePoint, explained Jeff Teper, president of Microsoft 365 collaborative apps and platforms, in a Microsoft Ignite session:  

People loved the concept [of Microsoft Syntex but] they weren't sure about the connections between Syntex and SharePoint, so we decided to simplify all that and rename Syntex to "SharePoint Premium." SharePoint is the base content management collaboration platform for Microsoft 365; SharePoint Premium [is] value-added services on top.

SharePoint Premium Value-Added Services
SharePoint Premium's value-added services fall into three categories, according to Teper:

  • Content experiences using AI with organizational content.
  • Content processing that applies AI to "workflows and processes in bulk to help transform and enrich that content," offering consistency, workflow automation and less drudgery.
  • Governance capabilities, along with advanced content controls.

"Combined, they're going to make SharePoint Premium the best way to manage, ground and leverage content for AI, and the era of Copilots," Teper said.

SharePoint Premium Capabilities
SharePoint Premium's capabilities were outlined in the announcement.

On the content experience side, SharePoint Premium has an "integrated file viewer" with support for more than 400 file types that permit inking. A "new Business Documents app in Teams" is another capability for SharePoint Premium users that can send alerts "for contracts that are expiring soon or need attention." An "AI-driven rules deviation engine" for spotting document changes, as well as an "AI-driven clause analyzer" for highlighting contract changes, are other capabilities. There's also a Document Portal for sharing content with external parties.

SharePoint Premium will be getting a SharePoint eSignature capability for "document approval workflows," which will reach "general availability" in Q1 2024, starting with U.S. tenancies. SharePoint eSignature will integrate with electronic signing services from Adobe and DocuSign, which is expected to reach general availability in "early 2024."

On the governance side, SharePoint Premium has a "Data Access Governance" feature, which lets organizations view "potentially overshared sites filtered by sharing policy" and other factors. A Site Access Reviews capability lets organizations check with "content owners for potentially at-risk content." Access can be limited using the "Restricted Access Control policy." Organizations can use "AI-driven policy recommendations" to compare the policies used across sites. There's also a "Content Event Insights" capability for tracking content lifecycle information.

Copilot in the SharePoint Admin Center also will be coming at some point. It can be used "to find sites with issues like oversharing, missing classifications, or inactivity."

Pay-as-You-Go Features
The pricing structure for SharePoint Premium wasn't described, but some of its features will be offered on a "a pay-as-you-go" basis. Such features will be "available to all Microsoft 365 users with no additional licensing required on a pay-as-you-go basis," the announcement explained.

One of those pay-as-you-go features is the ability to automatically translate files from Microsoft Stream videos, which is expected to reach general availability by "the end of December 2023."

Other pay-as-you-go capabilities, coming in "the first half of 2024," include using AI to discover data and autofill columns in documents, a personally identifiable information detector for files, automatic document content classifications using AI, and a redaction capability for sensitive information.

SharePoint Premium Availability and Licensing
Microsoft suggested that SharePoint Premium can be used today, but some of its capabilities are yet to come. Microsoft expects this product will reach "broad availability in the first half of 2024."

SharePoint Premium's content processing services and electronic signature capability are at the general availability stage. Its governance capabilities are currently available "under the SharePoint Advanced Management ('SAM') brand."

Microsoft will sell SharePoint Premium under "two licensing models." One model concerns content processing services, which "will be available on a pay-as-you-go basis to most Microsoft 365 plans." The other model is add-on approach to come next year. Here's how that second licensing model was described:

New capabilities such as Business Documents app, Documents Hub, and the enhanced file viewer, as well as "SAM" will be available as seat licensed services you can add to Microsoft 365 plans, with pricing to be announced at GA in 2024.

Microsoft also described the release state of two tools that can be used with SharePoint content. Microsoft 365 Archive (for "cold storage") is now available as a paid public preview. Microsoft 365 Backup will be available as a paid public preview "by the end of 2023," with general availability expected in "the first half of 2024."

About the Author

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

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