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SharePoint Online simplifies admin interface plus adds new controls over user experience

Mark Kashman (@mkashman) is a senior product manager on the SharePoint marketing team.

Narrow in on what is important—the task at hand. And when that changes, refocus. The journey to simplify the Office 365 admin experience continues, this time with a focus on simplifying the SharePoint Online admin center. For those admins who don’t specialize in deep SharePoint management, our goal is to allow you to manage the service more easily while maintaining access to the most common controls.

With the new capabilities in Office 365 and SharePoint Online, you can now:

  • Choose between a Simple or Advanced SharePoint Online admin user experience.
  • Control which Office 365 top navigation items your users see.
  • Block SharePoint 2013 workflows from being used from your environment.

Let’s dive into the details of these new capabilities that help you manage your service more efficiently.

Choose between a Simple or Advanced SharePoint Online admin interface

A common customer scenario in cloud computing is a basic one: get started. And why not start more simply? If you choose a phased approach—adopting various SharePoint workloads in sequence—you’ll benefit from seeing only that which you need at that time. To support this and other scenarios, SharePoint Online now enables admins to choose between Use Simple and Use Advanced to best map the required admin interface to your current use.

The simple admin center experience displays only the essential options used in the most common scenarios: site collection management, user profile management, and the main settings for external sharing, Information Rights Management, and more. When in simple mode, you don’t see the other admin control tabs. When you select the advanced admin center experience, you have access to all SharePoint Online management capabilities: Business Connectivity Services (BCS), the Term Store, the Secure Store, and more, in addition to site collections, user profiles, and settings.

See a little, see a lot. Choose which is right for you and your company to simplify the overall admin experience.

In Advanced mode in the SharePoint Online admin center, you can select the Use Simple (selected in the image above) or Use Advanced admin experience.

In Advanced mode in the SharePoint Online admin center, you can select the Use Simple (selected in the image above) or Use Advanced admin experience.

When you’re in Simple mode in the SharePoint Online admin center, the left-hand navigation shows only site collections, user profiles, and settings.

When you’re in Simple mode in the SharePoint Online admin center, the left-hand navigation shows only site collections, user profiles, and settings.

Control which Office 365 top navigation items your users see

Let’s continue with the scenario of a phased approach. If you want to use this approach, there are additional ways you can simplify the admin experience. One way is to show or hide certain elements of the Office 365 top navigation bar. Now admins can choose to show or hide OneDrive for Business, Yammer/Newsfeed, and/or Sites in users’ top global navigation bar. That means you can choose to align what your users see with corporate policy, instead of this choice being dictated by user license type.

The two screenshots below illustrate a scenario where a company that has rolled our email and calendaring using Exchange Online is now ready to provide one place for all their users’ work files, OneDrive for Business. The SharePoint Online admin can go into the settings in the admin center and select to hide Yammer/Newsfeed and Sites. Once you click OK, these elements no longer show in a user’s global top navigation. That way you can keep your users’ focus on learning and adopting OneDrive for Business. And when you’re ready to move on to establishing enterprise social or team site collaboration and want your users to see those, it’s as easy as a click or two.

Admins can choose which elements to show and hide on users’ top navigation bar. In this image, the admin has selected to hide Yammer/Newsfeed and Sites to keep users focused on OneDrive for Business.

Admins can choose which elements to show and hide on users’ top navigation bar. In this image, the admin has selected to hide Yammer/Newsfeed and Sites to keep users focused on OneDrive for Business.

Once you choose to hide Yammer/Newsfeed and Sites in the admin center, they no longer appear in users’ global Office 365 top navigation, as you can see in this view of a user’s OneDrive for Business.

Once you choose to hide Yammer/Newsfeed and Sites in the admin center, they no longer appear in users’ global Office 365 top navigation, as you can see in this view of a user’s OneDrive for Business.

Learn more about how to customize the Office 365 navigation bar.

Block SharePoint 2013 workflows from being used from your environment

Some customers are bound to certain company governance policies that can ultimately dictate which services can or cannot be leveraged within the company. Office 365 is continuing to provide transparency as to when services run within Office 365 and when they connect to other services. Starting now, you can choose to block the use of SharePoint 2013 workflows, which by default are published to and run from Microsoft Azure. Previously, you could only enable or disable all Preview Features. This now adds more granularity for certain features.

If you manage workflows into SharePoint Online from SharePoint Designer 2013, and you select Block 2013 workflows, your users will not be able to create a new workflow. Also, if you previously published SharePoint 2013 workflows, you will no longer see them within SharePoint Designer 2013 and, more importantly, they will no longer be available from the web interface. Note: this does not block SharePoint 2010 workflows from being published or executed, because by default they are published into SharePoint Online, not Microsoft Azure.

At the bottom of the settings tab in the SharePoint Online admin center, you can select Block SharePoint 2013 workflows.

 

At the bottom of the settings tab in the SharePoint Online admin center, you can select Block SharePoint 2013 workflows.

Stay informed and ahead of the curve

Be in the know. We publish upcoming innovation to the new Office 365 roadmap. You, too, can get the latest and greatest as soon as it’s available. Opt in by going to your Office 365 admin center, clicking SERVICE SETTINGS > Updates, and turning on First Release. Along with proactive and reactive messages in your Message Center, you’ll get messages keeping you informed about what’s coming up, and next time your team gathers at the water cooler, you’ll be the one with the relevant insight.

Thanks,

–Mark Kashman

Frequently asked questions

Q:  Which Office 365 plans will get these SharePoint Online admin center improvements?

A:  Any plan that has a SharePoint Online admin center will receive these new admin controls: Office 365 Enterprise E1, E3, and E4; Office 365 Education A2, A3, and A4; Office 365 Government G1, G3, and G4; and Office 365 Midsize Business.

 

Q. Does this announcement apply to Office 365 dedicated subscribers?

A. No. The Office 365 dedicated plans are not receiving this same update because they are managed in a unique, isolated infrastructure, with a different methods for customer accessible management.