23 January 2015

Office 365 News and Changes

Office 365 logotype Office 365 is constantly enhanced, but around the turn of the year there have been more changes than usual. Here are my comments to news and removals.

Start button
The most eye catching new feature is something that Microsoft calls "app launcher" in the top left corner. Here users can reach all services that are available to them via one single icon.

There were many protests when the Windows start button that was removed in Windows 8 Now it is back again, in a new form. It will be included in Windows 10 (more about that in a later post), and the app launcher is basically the same thing, even if it is modernized and possible to customize.

SharePoint kanban card

Office 365 Video
Another new feature is the Office 365 Video, which I have not yet had an opportunity to test. It will make it easier to add videos to Office 365 and give features like ability to handle large amounts of videos, search, categorization, statistics and publishing in multiple formats for different devices.

As you might have seen Microsoft has been quietly removing Tags and Notes and My Tasks from SharePoint online in the last few months. This is of course a bit depressing news, especially since these features were recently drummed up as reasons to move to SharePoint 2010 or 2013. (If you miss My Tasks, have a look at the article where I show how to add a web part that shows "my open tasks".)

Better options in the pipeline?
However, there is hope and promise in these shut-downs. Think of what happened with Search a few years ago. First we had many different products and offerings depending on your license level and which products you purchased. FAST was sold as a separate product, requiring its own server. Microsoft Search Server (Express) was another product that was sometimes used.

All those search features were killed off and then replaced by the new search features in Office 365 and SharePoint 2013, which I am very enthusiastic about. As you might have seen I have started a series of tutorials on the SharePoint 2013 Search in the Tips section.

I hope the now removed Tags and Notes and My Tasks will be replaced with something better, in the same way as the earlier SharePoint search engines.

Yammer disappears?
I believe that we will see the same thing happen with Yammer in the next few months. Ever since Microsoft bought that platform it has been clear that a new integrated social platform will come.

Removing the old features is a way of paving the road for the new things to come. Regretfully I don't have any inside information about the new features, yet - but I am hopeful, and I will certainly blog about them as soon as I know something more!

Peter Kalmström
CEO and Systems Designer Business Solutions