New Office 365 Features Announced
During the SharePoint Virtual Summit, Microsoft has unveiled a number of new features for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business, which will be rolled out later this year in Office 365. The innovations include, among other things, the possibility to share Office 365 files directly between Windows and Mac computers, a significantly revised admin center for SharePoint Online, a new SharePoint template for communication sites, as well as a more personalized search function.
Share Files in Explorer and Finder
For the File Explorer on Windows, as well as for the Finder on MacOS, it will be possible to share directly not only files but also the entire file folder with individuals, internal teams, and external work groups. According to its own statement, the software company thus wants to simplify the exchange of data between users, since it is no longer necessary to switch to the Web or to a special app. Thereby, the shared files and folders follow the same settings concerning data security as the functions in the Web. Explorer or Finder can be used to mark shared documents with an expiration date, after which access is denied. This setting, as well as all other settings concerning access rights, can be changed at any time. Access to the files itself remain the same: The shared documents can be edited with any compatible device with operating systems like Windows, Mac OS, iOS, or Android.
In addition, there will be another feature added to the functionality of the cloud storage service OneDrive, which had already been announced one week earlier by Microsoft, on the developer conference "Build": "OneDrive files on-demand". With files on-demand, access to all files in the cloud (OneDrive and/or OneDrive for Business) will be possible, without having to download them to a device in advance. This feature will be publicly available only in autumn, with the release of the "Creator Fall Updates" for Windows 10.
New Template and Web Part for Corporate Communications
From this summer onwards, a new template for the creation of site collections should be available in SharePoint Online: “SharePoint communication sites”. By using this template, appealing intranet sites can be created independently and in a very short time, including image galleries, interactive maps, video streams and a new event Web Part. According to Microsoft, a wider audience can be reached within the company using a SharePoint communication site and thus can easier be informed or involved in decision-making processes as if it was previously possible, using a conventional team-website. There are no special requirements for the clients; a SharePoint communication site is available through all platforms.
SharePoint Forms with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow
Another new feature in SharePoint Online will be added to libraries and lists. With the help of PowerApps, in will be possible to create custom forms that are directly related to a SharePoint list or library. Users will then able to edit data with these custom PowerShell forms, instead of using the standard SharePoint forms. In addition, Microsoft has further improved the integration of the automation solution, Microsoft Flow. In the future, predefined approval workflows can be easily supplemented with individual notes or comments, and permits can be issued directly out of e-mails.
Advanced Personalized Search
Using technologies such as machine learning or artificial intelligence in Microsoft Graph, the software group attempts to gain better search results in SharePoint Online. What is new here is that the search in the future will no longer be limited to web pages, documents and messages only, but extended to people from the own organization, with the deposited experiences, knowledge, or interests of their Office 365 profile.
New SharePoint Admin Center
Another feature, however, will not affect the end user but the administrator of Office 365 and SharePoint Online: A new admin center for SharePoint Online will be publicly available in the last quarter of this year. It will not only include a significantly revised service health dashboard, with interactive usage reporting and central news center, but also the function to display, filter, and configure all SharePoint site collections - including also site collections that are associated with Office 365 groups.
Office 365 Customers of the German Cloud Will Have to Wait
In a blog post, Microsoft Germany indicates that all new features will be rolled out in the European datacenters first, and therefore will be available for customers with Office 365 subscriptions in the corresponding European regions only. It was not mentioned how long customers with an Office 365 subscription of the German Cloud will have to be patient.