Some still call it “The SharePoint Conference” although its official name is now Microsoft Ignite, since it has a broader focus than just SharePoint. This massive event took place in Atlanta (Georgia) from September 26th to 30th, and brought a huge amount of announcements and a months-long pile of content to go through. Just by looking at the event agenda with 1420 sessions of different lengths and formats, it’s easy to conclude that Office 365 and SharePoint were, in fact, the stars of the conference (or maybe I’m a little partial).
Microsoft always shares some usage statistics about its products and services in high-profile events such as Ignite. Although most statistics regarding SharePoint and Office 365 had already been shared in the Future of SharePoint event in last May, there were a few new ones that I found interesting:
- The share of users connecting 3rd party apps and services to Office 365 has grown 4x
- 1 in every 7 people in the world uses Office
- Yammer is used by 85% of the Fortune 500 aas part of Office 365
Sifting through all the announcements, blog posts, on-demand session recordings and tweets that were generated during that week can be an overwhelming task and this is why I’ll try to give you a helping hand. I’ve grouped the announcements according to the target audience: developers, end users and administrators.
In this section I’ve grouped all the news about developer topics in Office 365 and SharePoint.
- Support for hybrid environments (Exchange 2016) in Preview.
- Access to SharePoint sites and lists in Preview.
- Support for CRUD operations on SharePoint list items in Preview.
- Webhooks for files stored in OneDrive and SharePoint document libraries in Preview.
- File handlers v2 for OneDrive and SharePoint in Preview.
- Outlook OpenType extensions are now generally available.
Add-Ins and Web Parts
- Developer preview of the new SharePoint Framework, which allows developers to extend SharePoint and build mobile-ready web parts, pages and applications using modern and open frameworks.
- Support in OneNote for Office Web Add-Ins.
- Support for Add-Ins in Office for Mac
- Updates to deployment and administration stories of Office Add-Ins.
- Connectors are currently available for Office 365 Groups mailboxes. With connectors for the inbox, users will be able to configure connectors to their individual mailboxes.
- Connectors will support actionable messages, which are messages with embedded actions that can be performed on the third party app/service without leaving Outlook.
In this section you’ll find all the announcements that are useful for end users.
Office Client Applications
- Tap in Word and Outlook allows you to bring content from other documents without leaving your current document (watch video). It’s somewhat similar to what we could do with Slide Libraries, but now powered by the Office Graph and not restricted to PowerPoint slides.
- QuickStarter for PowerPoint and Sway (watch video), a new feature that lets you start a new presentation or sway by searching a topic and letting Office 365 create a first version of the contents for you.
- Designer for PowerPoint now also suggest layout changes for bulleted lists.
- New maps chart type in Excel, powered by Bing Maps (watch video).
- Ability to see activity of the file inside the Office application, and not just in the document library.
- Richer people experiences with people cards in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business that surface content and details from the user’s profile
- Team news, a way to broadcast the important content from a team. Based on the new page editing features powered by the SharePoint Framework and with native support on mobile via the SharePoint mobile app.
- Better integration of Power BI, Yammer, Flow and PowerApps
- Modernized team sites with new UX for document libraries, lists and pages
- SharePoint team sites to every Office 365 Group
- Yammer groups get a team site and document library (rest of the group components coming soon) (watch video)
OneDrive for Business
- OneDrive for Business browser experience lets you find, access, share and collaborate on all the files in Office 365, not only the ones on your personal document library, but also from SharePoint and Groups.
- New OneDrive synchronization support for SharePoint document libraries and folders shared with you (in Preview).
- New Discover view powered by the Office Graph surfaces relevant files.
- Rich thumbnails and previews for over 20 new file types including Adobe’s.
- Possibility to download multiple files as a zip file, a feature that has existed for a long time on OneDrive consumer version.
Skype for Business
- Skype for Business for Mac will be generally available during October.
- Translation and transcription capabilities in Skype Meeting Broadcasts (preview coming soon).
- Additional markets for Skype PSTN services which now surpass 90 countries and 400 cities across the globe.
- Skype Room Systems (formerly known as Project Rigel) are devices that bring the Skype for Business meeting experience to any room. A new generation of such devices from Logitech, Crestron and Polycom were announced.
- Yammer is now integrated with Office 365 Groups giving each Yammer Group a shared notebook, a shared file repository, a shared calendar and a plan (in Planner).
- Since each Yammer Group now has an associated SharePoint document library, it has access to versioning, workflows and document retention policies.
- This integration also allows Yammer groups to be easily managed from the Office 365 admin center, Azure AD management portal and PowerShell since they are essentially Office 365 groups.
- Support for sharing files stored in OneDrive, OneDrive for Business and SharePoint using the new Yammer file picker.
- Rich previews of all files using Office Online.
- New SharePoint mobile app for Android and Windows (in Preview)
- New Delve app for Windows 10 desktop and mobile
- Microsoft MyAnalytics (formerly Delve Analytics) will be an independent service in Office 365 (included in E5 plans). It provides you insights on your day-to-day activities and work habits to help you improve your life. (watch video)
- You will be able to pin important contacts from inside and outside your organization to make sure you keep in contact.
- You will be able to share your metrics or specific modules with a colleague or mentor.
- My Analytics will also show you metrics of your group interactions, allowing you to get insights on how you collaborate with a group and to set group-specific goals.
- Microsoft StaffHub is a new app that helps managers create teams, managed shift schedules and provide relevant information to their deskless workers, which can use the companion mobile app to access their schedule, communicate with colleagues, and view announcements and contents.
- New Office 365 profile in Delve which shows additional information about each person, like free/busy calendar information, skills and projects, as well as a new inline profile editing experience.
- New Office 365 App Launcher, with a tabbed layout and a highly customizable experience, somewhat similar to what you get with Windows 10 Start menu.
This section summarizes all the announcements regarding administrative topics.
- Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016 will be released in November and includes:
- Auditing for administrative activities performed in Central Administration and with PowerShell
- New shared MinRoles for smaller farms (Front-end with Distributed Cache and Application with Search)
- Unified (hybrid) taxonomy support
- Unified (hybrid) auditing in the Office 365 Reports Center
- New OneDrive for Business user interface (only with Software Assurance)
- Custom tiles in the App Launcher
- OneDrive API 2.0
- Support for 25 TB of storage per site collection or group.
OneDrive for Business
- There will be a dedicated OneDrive administration console in Office 365.
- Simple, flexible OneDrive user management in Office 365 with support for setting the individual storage quota and external sharing permissions.
Skype for Business
- Rolling out previews of Organizational Auto Attendant (for call treatment) and Call Queues (for queueing and routing of inbound calls), powerful features that will smooth transitions to Cloud PBX from traditional telephony solutions.
- Preview of Skype for Business Advanced Analytics will give customers insights and tools to manage their global communications.
- Announcing the new Skype Operations Framework (SOF), an end-to-end planning, deployment and operations methodology and tool set to ensure the best possible deployment experience for customers.
- Improvements to Advanced Threat Protection (ATP):
- Dynamic Delivery allows for better performance and lower latency for emails with attachments
- URL Detonation will allow a deeper protection against malicious URLs. Besides checking a list of known malicious URLs, Ofice 365 will also perform a real-time behavioural analysis in a sandbox environment to identify previously unknown malicious links.
- Better reporting capabilities and integration with Windows Defender which allows malware to be tracked across Windows 10 and Office 365.
- Advanced Threat Protection will extend its protection to SharePoint Online, Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive for Business.
- The new Intelligent Security Graph, an ever growing data store that receives inputs from Microsoft and external security-related sources, to help you detect and protect against advanced threats in Office 365.
- Advanced Data Governance in Office 365, leverages machine learning insights to help you find, classify, set policies and take action on important data.
- Site classification that helps users understand the value and sensivity of information.
- Conditional access based on location and device (watch video).
- Customer-controlled SharePoint and OneDrive encryption keys (Bring Your Own Key).
- Outlook mobile app (for iOS and Android) is now powered by the Microsoft Cloud. There is no longer any caching outside of Office 365.
Microsoft had a very busy year with Office 365 and SharePoint, delivering an impressive number of new features and announcing many others. I’m really happy to see how Office 365 is shaping up to be an extremely powerful enterprise productivity service and how SharePoint supports many of its workloads. I believe there is a bright future ahead for both.