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A review of Office 365 and SharePoint announcements in 2014

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Designing solutions on the SharePoint and Office 365 platforms.

A review of Office 365 and SharePoint announcements in 2014

Eric Gregorich

It has been a busy year for Microsoft and I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at 2014 and review some of the big SharePoint and Office 365 announcements. I decided to list these by the approximate month they were announced rather than when they were released, since the roll out of new features are often staggered over time.  My original list was enormous, so I cut it back to only include the announcements I thought were the most interesting.

You will notice a couple of trends.

  • More communication (roadmap, PnP, Office Blogs, etc.).
  • Integration across services and devices (Salesforce, Dropbox, iOS apps, etc.)
  • The cloud-first model (new features for Office 365 and SharePoint Online, not so much for SharePoint on premise).

Here we go.

January 2014

 Microsoft launches the new and improved Office Blogs web site. Welcome to the new Office Blogs

February 2014

 Power BI for Office 365 becomes available for users to build business insights in Excel. A lot of updates have also been released throughout the year to the Power BI stack. Power BI for Office 365 now available to do more with business insights in Excel

Microsoft partners with DocuSign to bring eSignature capabilities directly to Office 365 customers. DocuSign’s new solutions, built in Office 365, offer single sign-on, automatic storage of documents in OneDrive, and seamless integration. Microsoft and DocuSign partner to bring eSignature capabilities to Office 365 customers

March 2014

 Microsoft introduces the Office 365 IT Pro Network on Yammer. This network has grown over the months to include thousands of members, including SharePoint MVPs that can help answer questions in the community. The network now has dozens of groups that cover specific topics like, SharePoint, Exchange, OneDrive for Business, and more. Introducing the Office 365 IT Pro Network

Delve (codename Oslo) and the Office Graph are announced. The Office Graph promises to pull all of the individual services provided through Office 365 together, making content more relevant to the user and easier to find, no matter where it is actually stored. The Office Graph will also power many new features in the future. Introducing Delve and Office Graph

The Office 365 APIs are announced at the SharePoint Conference. The APIs allow developers to work with SharePoint, Exchange, Lync, and Azure AD. The Discovery Services API allows you to determine the location of Office 365 services for particular users, simplifying authentication across services. The Office 365 platform—new opportunities for developers

May 2014

 OneDrive for Business gets some big updates that simplify the user experience by adding simple controls, site folders, smarter search, and additional refinements to the user interface. OneDrive for Business updates web user experience

Microsoft and Salesforce.com announce a strategic partnership. Over time, the two giants will offer integration between their services, including Salesforce1 apps for Windows and Windows Phone 8.1, and integration with OneDrive for Business. Microsoft and salesforce.com announce strategic partnership

June 2014

 Microsoft releases the Office 365 for business roadmap to users. The roadmap attempts to show users what features are rolling out, and what features are in development. This is a great tool for administrators and Power Users to keep up with all of the new features that are constantly being released to the Office 365 platform. Improving Visibility to Service Updates

Yammer sees some integration with SharePoint and OneDrive when Microsoft introduces Yammer Conversations. While viewing an Office document through Office Web Apps, a Yammer conversation pane is available. This is a great way to post announcements about certain documents to group of people, or even have conversations with just a couple of people as you collaborate on the document. Yammer brings conversations to your OneDrive and SharePoint Online files

July 2014

 The Office 365 Development Patterns & Practices team released a new open source repository (OfficeDev/PnP) on GitHub. The repository helps developers transition to the new App Model by providing dozens of samples and scenarios. These best practices include solutions for branding, provisioning, managing security, managing content, and much more. Since the repository is on GitHub, the community can (and has been) participating by improving and adding to the sample code over time. This is an invaluable resource for developers and power users who need to make customizations in Office 365 and even SharePoint 2013 on premise. Office 365 Development Patterns & Practices launched

September 2014

 In another attempt to pull together the many services in Office 365, Microsoft announces Groups. A Group combines Office 365 email and calendar with OneDrive for Business into one experience. Eventually Yammer and Lync will be included in the Groups experience. Delivering the first chapter of Groups in Office 365

October 2014

 It is announced that that SharePoint Conference will no longer be a standalone conference, but instead will be combined with the Management Summit, the Exchange, Lync, Project, and TechEd conferences. This seems to be another sign that SharePoint as a platform will be taking a back seat to Office 365 as a platform. Introducing Microsoft Ignite and our lineup of top conferences in 2015

With all of the new services being launched in Office 365, the top navigation bar was becoming very crowded. To deal with this, the new app launcher was announced. This puts all of the services under a new navigation experience that allows for further growth and even user customization. Organize your Office 365 with the new app launcher

November 2014

 Another service powered by the Office Graph, Clutter, begins to roll out to Office 365 business customers. Clutter, using machine learning, attempts to de-clutter you email inbox by moving less important email into a Clutter folder. De-clutter your inbox in Office 365

Office 365 Video is announced. Office 365 Video is an easy to use video service provides simple administration and discoverability of the videos for your organization. The service is powered by Azure Media Services and leverages Yammer and the Office Graph to integrate with Office 365. Introducing Office 365 Video

After continual updates to the Office for iPad apps throughout the year, the Office for iPhone apps are now available with the same great experience. In addition, Office for Android Tablet Preview is announced. This is a clear sign that Microsoft is no longer committed only to Windows. Office is available on all major platforms in one form or another. Yes, Office on Windows Phone is weak and doesn’t even compare to the iOS and Android versions, but with the touch-friendly Office in development (along with Windows 10), perhaps in 2015 Windows Phone users will have a similar, if not better, experience for Office. Office for Everyone

After waiting all year to see better integration between Yammer and Office 365, Microsoft announces single Office 365 sign-in for Yammer. This promises to allow users to access Yammer using their existing Office 365 credentials. Unfortunately, this capability will not be rolled out until early 2015. Use your Office 365 credentials to sign in to Yammer

Shortly after a big announcement stating Office 365 home and premium users will receive unlimited OneDrive storage, Microsoft announced Dropbox support in the latest Office apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. This is yet another sign that Microsoft is playing nice with other services. This is a great move by Microsoft because so many users are already invested in the Dropbox service. Now that they have seamless integration with Office, they seem more likely to use Office over other products. Office and Dropbox to work together on phones, tablets and web

December 2014

After announcing a strategic partnership between Microsoft and Salesforce.com back in May, Salesforce Files Connect is announced. OneDrive for Business and SharePoint will be the first platforms to integrate with Salesforce Files Connect. Salesforce to integrate with OneDrive for Business and SharePoint in new universal file sharing solution

Conclusion

After reviewing all of the announcements in 2014, Microsoft’s direction is pretty clear. The push to Office 365 and other cloud services is evident. To get there, they must provide access to these services on all major platforms, including iOS, Mac, and Android. Unfortunately, SharePoint on premise has taken a back seat. While there will likely be some big announcements for SharePoint in 2015, my guess is that they will mainly include features already released to SharePoint Online, as well as new features to help improve the hybrid story between SharePoint on premise and SharePoint Online and other cloud services.

What are your thoughts?