SharePoint communication sites begin rollout to Office 365 customers

During last month’s SharePoint Virtual Summit, we unveiled SharePoint communication sites—beautiful, dynamic sites that let you reach a broad internal audience, and that look great on the web, in the SharePoint mobile app, on PC and on Mac. Today, we’re excited to announce that communication sites are now rolling out to Office 365 First Release customers, followed by full worldwide rollout to Office 365 customers in the coming months.

Image scrolls through a SharePoint communication site in desktop view.

Create a beautiful communication site in seconds

Communication sites are perfect for internal cross-company campaigns, weekly and monthly reports or status updates, product launches, events and more. To help you jumpstart getting your message out fast, communication sites provide configurable templates for the sites and pages within. When you click Create site from the SharePoint home in Office 365, you have a choice of three initial site designs:

  • Topic—Select the Topic design when you have a lot of information to share, such as news, events and other content.
  • Showcase—Use the Showcase design to feature a product, team or event using photos or images.
  • Blank—Start with a blank site and make your design come to life quickly and easily.

Images showing how each of the different three site design options look on a desktop and mobile device.

Communication site designs (from left to right): Topic, Showcase and Blank.

And it is easy to tell your story. Once your new site is created, simply drag-and-drop to reorganize web parts on the page to bring your use cases and scenarios to life. News and pages allow for multi-column layouts to represent your message in a meaningful, intuitive fashion.

Learn how to create a communication site in Office 365, add a page and work with column layouts.

Share your plans and updates in engaging, interactive ways

Communication sites allow people to create and share recurring updates beyond email. When you create a page on a communication site, you can embed documents and video, and dynamically pull in real-time data from across Office 365, including documents from SharePoint, Power BI reports, Microsoft Stream videos and Yammer discussions. The resulting page is a rich and dynamic communication. And the page persists on the site, so people can refer to it easily, even as the membership of your team changes, so new members can more easily get up to speed.

Image showing how a communication site displays all the data pulled in from Office 365, including news, events, key documents, resources and contacts.

The new capabilities for the rich section layouts and new web parts can be utilized on SharePoint team sites as well.

Consume, create and connect from your mobile device via the SharePoint apps

It’s easy to access, engage with and create content for communication sites from any device. The full site, pages, news, navigation, search and more are natively viewable, functional and engaging. Read a page, create a news article, engage in a Yammer conversation—all in the context of the site—from within the SharePoint mobile app experience.

Image runs through a SharePoint communication site in mobile.

You can download the SharePoint mobiles apps for iOS and Android today, and the new features will be available in the coming weeks. Learn more about the SharePoint mobile app for iOS, SharePoint mobile app for Android and SharePoint app for Windows 10 Mobile.

Communication sites help further refine and enhance your message

Beyond what we shared during the SharePoint Virtual Summit, communication sites have additional capabilities to further refine and enhance your message.

Make your home page and sub-pages look great

  • Full-width layouts—The Hero and Image web parts can be placed in a section layout that spans the page from left to right, giving you ways to emphasize your most essential information.
  • Enhanced title region with custom header image—Visually represent your home page, news and subpages with a compelling header graphic and title. You control what portion of the image is the most important, so it looks great, and as intended, across web and mobile experiences.

Continue the discussion in context to ensure reach, retention and engagement

  • Comments on pages—Each news article and page can have its own set of comments. It is possible to use the Yammer web part for broad discussion scenarios as well as targeted responses to engage your viewers on the sole message and content on the page—all keeping within the context of the page.
  • Share news via email—When you share news via email from a communication site, it’s not just a blue link; it’s a visual, informative preview that adds context to both the email and the news article itself. Within the email, the recipient(s) will see a thumbnail, title, description and an optional message from the sender.

Dynamically pull in and display data, documents and information via web part improvements

  • Power BI and Microsoft Stream—Bring in interactive reports using the Power BI web part, and embed single videos or full channels from Microsoft Stream—the single destination within Office 365 for your cross-company video management. Both Power BI and Microsoft Stream are now generally available.
  • GIF support—When you add an Image web part into a news article or page, you can now include animated GIFs in your layout.
  • New “See all” pages—When there is more content than can be shown within the first view the Highlighted content and Site activity web parts, you can click See all to go to a full-page experience to see all the content and activity.
  • Updated News web part—Showcase your news using multiple layouts to highlight what’s important with greater flexibility. You can use the default Top story layout, view news as a list or side-by-side.

Learn more about using web parts on pages and news, which highlights all web parts available in SharePoint Online.

Mark your calendars

Join us for one or more of our events in the coming days and weeks to share and explore the value of communication sites.

  • SharePoint communication sites AMA—On Wednesday, June 28, 2017 from 9–10 a.m. PDT, bring your questions and feedback to the SharePoint communication sites AMA within this dedicated SharePoint community space of the Microsoft Tech Community for SharePoint. We’re inviting our deepest business and technical subject matter experts for an active, informative hour—driven by YOU!
  • Jeff Teper takes over @SharePoint—On Tuesday, July 10, 2017 from 9:30–10:30 a.m. PDT, Jeff Teper, corporate vice president for SharePoint, OneDrive and Office, will take over the @SharePoint Twitter handle. He’ll tackle your questions and feedback both with written responses and video snippets as only he can—no tweet left behind!
  • LIVE customer + MVPs panel webinar—On Wednesday, July 13, 2017 at 8 a.m. PDT, join in to hear how one of our customers, Shire, successfully planned and implemented their new digital workspace—inclusive of communication sites. You will hear both from Shire employees and Office 365 MVPs. Register today.
  • On-demand webcast—On Wednesday, July 19, 2017, Farren Roper and I present the “SharePoint: Inform and engage your employees” business webcast. Be the first to be notified when it’s available: sign up today. And in advance, read the new, related eBook, “4 secrets to a connected workplace.”

Throughout the lifecycle of your projects, launches and internal campaigns, let the SharePoint intranet help you move seamlessly from concept to final product. The powerful, dynamic SharePoint user experiences let you clearly communicate your message throughout your company.

—Mark Kashman, senior product manager for the SharePoint team

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I expect communication sites to roll out to Office 365 customers?

A. Communication sites will begin to roll out to First Release customers within the coming week—starting with First Release Select Users—and will be completed within 2–3 weeks. We are targeting end of August 2017 for complete worldwide rollout.

Q. When will the SharePoint mobile apps get updated to natively view communication sites?

A. We are planning to push updates to the SharePoint mobile app for iOS within a few days, and to the SharePoint mobile app for Android in the coming weeks. Install today. Update often.

Q. Can I use a communication site in an extranet scenario with external users?

A. Yes, communication sites will support external users for extranet use cases. Initially, Office 365 admins would need to enable it at the site level via PowerShell. We are working on the admin user interface to enable external sharing in a similar fashion as is done today for team sites.

New SharePoint and OneDrive capabilities accelerate your digital transformation

Today, during the SharePoint Virtual Summit, we unveiled a new wave of innovations that build upon the vision we set forth last year to reinvent content collaboration and usher in a new generation of mobile and intelligent intranets.

Customers’ successes inspire us and illustrate how SharePoint and OneDrive in Office 365 empowers individuals, teams and organizations to share with confidence, transform business process, inform and engage the organization, and harness collective knowledge. Today’s announcements make it easier than ever for you to drive these outcomes and accelerate your digital transformation. For even more insights, read Jeff Teper’s post, “SharePoint Virtual Summit showcases growth, innovations and customer success.”

Here’s a recap of the headline announcements that Jeff covered in his blog, and the broader set of innovations we highlighted during the SharePoint Virtual Summit.

Share with confidence

OneDrive lets you share files securely with anyone—inside or outside your organization. Its deep Office integration, which powers rich co-authoring, allows you to collaborate on these shared files with others in real time. And it lets you access all your Office 365 files, including your individual work files and files shared with you by individuals, teams and the organization—regardless of whether you’re on a PC, Mac, an iOS or Android device or a Windows phone.

See all your files in File Explorer with OneDrive Files On-Demand

Last week at Microsoft Build 2017, we announced OneDrive Files On-Demand, coming to preview on Windows 10 this summer. Files On-Demand enables you to work with all your files in Office 365—both work and personal, across OneDrive and SharePoint—right from File Explorer, without having to download them and use storage space on your device.

Work with all your files in Office 365 from File Explorer with Files On-Demand.

Share files directly from File Explorer on Windows and Finder on Mac

Today, we also announced that starting this summer you will be able to share Office 365 files directly from File Explorer on PC and Finder on Mac. The sharing experience has been simplified, so you can share a file or folder with specific people or send a link that enables anyone who needs access, inside or outside your organization. In addition, you can now control how long a link provides access, and you can easily view and modify the permissions you have granted. The new sharing experience is the same, whether you share on the web, in Explorer on Windows 10 and Windows 7, or in Finder on Mac.

Share files and folders with colleagues inside and outside your organization directly from File Explorer on Windows 10 and Windows 7.

Share files and folders with colleagues inside and outside your organization directly from Finder on Mac.

Innovations that we’ve released over the last year and announced today are sparking customers to choose OneDrive over other file storage and sharing solutions. Read “File sharing and cloud storage with OneDrive and Office 365” to learn more.

To learn more about these and other announcements for OneDrive, read “New sharing features for OneDrive and SharePoint” and watch OneDrive for Business updates: simplified sharing and files on demand.

Connect SharePoint team sites with other Office 365 content and services

Over the last year, we modernized SharePoint team sites and connected them with Office 365 Groups. Today, we announced additional enhancements—coming later this year—which will further unify collaboration experiences in Office 365, including:

  • The ability to connect existing SharePoint team sites to Office 365 Groups, so you can augment existing sites with shared conversations, calendar and Planner.
  • Support for adding SharePoint pages as tabs in Microsoft Teams so you can add a tab with a news article or your team site’s homepage, for example. This builds upon the existing ability to add tabs for SharePoint document libraries in Teams. More integration between Teams and SharePoint will be shared at Microsoft Ignite.

Add a SharePoint page to a Teams channel.

To learn more about these and other announcements for SharePoint team sites, read “Personalize team sites in Office 365 and amplify your work using Microsoft Teams and Office 365 Groups” and watch New personalized, focused experiences across your SharePoint team sites.

Transform business process

SharePoint enables you, your team and your organization to streamline tasks, automate workflows and integrate processes seamlessly into your work—on any device and from anywhere you work.

Create custom SharePoint forms and digital experiences with PowerApps

Starting this summer, you will be able to use Microsoft PowerApps to easily create custom forms and rich digital experiences that surface right in the context of a SharePoint list or library. Users can then create, view and interact with data using your custom form or experience, rather than default SharePoint forms.

Create custom forms inside SharePoint lists and libraries with no code using PowerApps.

This is a significant milestone for both SharePoint and PowerApps, as it empowers any user to drive transformation of team and organizational processes.

Simple approval flows built in to SharePoint libraries

We also continue to deepen integration of SharePoint and Microsoft Flow. New built-in approval flows let you send any document for approval with a custom message. The recipient can approve the request directly from a rich, actionable email message, so approval and feedback can be given without leaving your inbox.

Approval flows, built in to SharePoint, send a rich, actionable email message.

To learn more about these and related announcements we made today, read “Reinventing business processes in SharePoint” and watch Zero code business process apps in SharePoint with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.

Inform and engage employees

An intranet lets you communicate to people—keeping them informed of news and information. And it enables you to communicate with people—to engage employees and foster open conversation. It is this engagement that is fundamental to driving digital transformation and culture change.

Reach a broad audience with SharePoint communication sites

As the next step toward ushering in the next generation of intranets, we announced SharePoint communication sites—coming this summer. A communication site is a beautiful, dynamic site that lets you reach a broad audience to keep the organization informed and engaged. Communication sites look great on the web, on a PC or Mac, on mobile browsers and in the SharePoint app.

Easily create beautiful intranet sites to reach a broad audience across your organization.

While your team site lets you share within your group as you’re working, a communication site lets your group share broadly and communicate its message across the organization. News published on a communication site surfaces on SharePoint home in Office 365 and on SharePoint mobile to all users who have access to the site.

Communication sites can be created in seconds. You can configure the default web parts on your site’s pages to tell your story. You can customize page layout with new multi-column sections and drag-and-drop authoring with a range of richly functional web parts, including an image gallery, interactive Bing maps, videos from a Microsoft Stream channel, and a new events web part. Add the Yammer web part to solicit feedback and foster conversation, right in the context of a communication site.

To learn more about communication sites, read “Reach your audience via SharePoint communication sites in Office 365” and watch An overview of SharePoint communication sites.

Harness collective knowledge

As the pace of work accelerates, it’s more important than ever to harness collective knowledge by making it easier to find information and expertise, right when it’s needed, and to encourage best practice sharing.

Find people, expertise and content faster with powerful, personalized search

Today, we announced a more personalized search that leverages machine learning and artificial intelligence from Microsoft Graph to surface more relevant and valuable results, faster. When you click in the Search box on SharePoint home in Office 365, recommendations appear instantly. You’ll see recent files, making it easy to get back to your work, as well as relevant content, sites and news.

When you’re searching for knowledge, it may be found in content such as files, sites and news. And it might also be found through your colleagues. Now, your search results will include people whose skills, interests and projects—part their Office 365 profile—are relevant to your query.

Search results activate people cards, so you can learn at a glance about a person and the content they work on. One more click activates an extended view with richly detailed information from the user’s profile. These enhancements to search will roll out over the next few months.

Find what you need faster with instant, personalized results that include files, sites, news and people.

We also demonstrated how building communities using Yammer with SharePoint encourages people to share content, knowledge and best practices across the organization, by adding a conversational layer to your intranet.

Build a community with shared content and conversation using a SharePoint communication site and Yammer.

To learn more about Yammer integration with SharePoint and related announcements made today, read “New in Yammer: Building a More Engaged and Connected Organizationand watch Updates to Yammer: Integrating conversations into your SharePoint experiences.

Secure your content and manage your service

Innovation in the cloud drives tremendous business value, and it delivers new capabilities to the IT professionals who work tirelessly to support, configure, administer and secure their organizations’ content and services.

Empower administrators with the new SharePoint admin center

Today, we announced the new SharePoint admin center, which will begin rolling out in the fourth quarter of 2017. From the homepage, you’ll notice just how much better it is, with interactive usage reports, Message Center posts and a Service Health dashboard tuned to the needs of SharePoint administrators.

The new SharePoint admin center surfaces usage, health and administrative messages.

You’ll easily find and work with the dozens of SharePoint settings we give you to configure sharing, access and the service. And we know you’ll love the dynamic new Site Management page, which lets you view, filter and edit the configuration of all of your SharePoint sites—including sites connected to Office 365 Groups.

Manage all of your sites in the new SharePoint admin center.

To learn more about these and other announcements regarding SharePoint security and manageability, read “Secure your information with SharePoint and OneDrive” and watch New admin controls for SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.

Extend SharePoint and OneDrive

Just as we innovate for business users and IT professionals, we innovate for developers and partners. Last week at Microsoft Build 2017, we unveiled new capabilities to extend SharePoint experiences and build custom applications with SharePoint and the Microsoft Graph. We enhanced the SharePoint Framework with new extensions, coming soon in preview, for sites and libraries. We announced web part connections and File Handlers version 2, in preview, supporting more deeply integrated experiences. Finally, Microsoft Graph features new production endpoints for site data, as well as extended APIs for lists, in preview.

To learn more about announcements for SharePoint developers, read “Your guide to SharePoint at Microsoft Built 2017” and watch Updates to the SharePoint Framework with SharePoint Framework extensions.

Continued commitment to on-premises and hybrid customers

Last year, we released SharePoint Server 2016 to general availability and announced a vision to bring cloud innovation to on-premises customers through Feature Packs. We released Feature Pack 1 in November, with a new, responsive user interface for OneDrive and cloud coexistence features, including hybrid taxonomy and hybrid auditing. And today, we announced that we will bring the first components of the SharePoint Framework to SharePoint Server 2016 with Feature Pack 2 later this year. This will enable developers to use an updated client-side development model to create web parts and solutions that can power new solutions on-premises, in hybrid experiences and in Office 365.

To learn more about innovations for on-premises and hybrid SharePoint customers, read “SharePoint Server 2016 and Beyond” and watch SharePoint Server 2016 updates and advances in Cloud coexistence.

Accelerate your digital transformation

Today, we unveiled the latest innovations for SharePoint, so you can share and manage content, knowledge and apps and build a more connected workplace. We announced new features for OneDrive and deep integration across Office 365, Azure and Windows. And there’s more to come. Join us at Microsoft Ignite, where we look forward to hearing your feedback—and celebrating your success—as we partner to accelerate your digital transformation.

—The SharePoint and OneDrive teams

If you missed the event today, you can view the recording of the SharePoint Virtual Summit.

SharePoint evaluated as a Leader in latest edition of The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management

We are very pleased to see SharePoint evaluated as a Leader in The Forrester Wave™: Enterprise Content Management—Business Content Services, Q2 2017. As Forrester noted:

Microsoft instigates content-in-the-cloud with a focus on SharePoint Online. Microsoft’s launch of SharePoint 2016 and ongoing investment into Office 365 and SharePoint Online has proved to be a significant catalyst in enterprises’ decisions to move their enterprise content to cloud services. Support for hybrid deployments continues to be an area of focus, supporting firms adopting cloud in a phased approach, or for specific use cases. Microsoft’s FastTrack migration program, as well as its partners, provides a range of options for customers that want to move documents out of their own in-house data centers or on-premises SharePoint sites. Microsoft has a clear cloud-first vision, and has invested in eliminating the scalability barriers that challenged older, on-premises SharePoint editions. Microsoft continues to work to improve one-stop governance tools, such as common eDiscovery and legal holds across the Office 365 stack. Collaboration, including analytics and social graphing is a major area of focus and investment.

These are interesting times for enterprise content management (ECM). Industry thought leaders have noted the shift from archives for decades-long content retention, to agile collaboration-centric cloud toolsets that also empower security and reuse.

Forrester has been tracking this shift from traditional ECM to what they call business content services. Business content services emphasizes content creation, policy and reuse—but remains distinct from transactional, high volume content services (like those that support credit card processing). Microsoft, through Office 365 and SharePoint Online, has also been at the forefront of the charge.

We’re excited about Forrester’s report, and encourage you to browse and download the full report.

Introducing SharePoint content services

Our pivot to content services began at Ignite 2016 in Atlanta, where we presented a breakout session on SharePoint ECM. You can watch the entire session below:

Shaping and controlling content from creation to final disposition means many different things. We think it’s important to define our terms. Enterprise content management needs to adopt a holistic approach to managing the entire lifecycle of document creation, sharing, consumption, reuse, knowledge and records management, archiving and disposal.

That’s why we believe it’s time to reflect the changes in how content is created, shared, sustained and reused. Content services reflect a more focused suite of empowered capabilities than traditional ECM, and represent the next wave in ECM.

Content services is people-centric, allowing for personal management (copy, move, hashtag) and organizational management (knowledge management, record retention, information lifecycle management). Policy and security protects content at all phases of its life. It’s a core tenet that content should supply business value throughout, instead of after-the-fact management of dormant assets.

What happens when all that content comes into SharePoint? A common, incorrect impression of SharePoint has been that it’s a great tool to manage team content, but you need an “old-fashioned ECM system for scalability” or “true records management.” Neither of those are true today, with SharePoint having incredible scalability of up to 30-trillion documents and up to 12.5 EB in a single SharePoint Online tenant. OneDrive and SharePoint also inherit our Office 365 capabilities to create record and retention policy tags that can be applied to any content (interactively or by matching a known set of content fingerprints).

Principles of content services—create, coordinate, protect and harvest

Content services is as much about document creation as consumption. In many cases, content has become less about static images and reports, and more about dynamic documents that are created and edited many times in their lifespans. This trend is something we call content velocity, where the content picks up velocity as it is created, edited and reused, becoming more valuable, instead of becoming a dormant archive of little value, as was traditionally the case. We view this as an evergreen cycle of authoring, collaboration, control and reuse.

Create

Content velocity means documents need to be “born” managed. Newer SharePoint and OneDrive capabilities are designed to support this:

  • Creating a document using Office Lens to share to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint.
  • Using the Copy/Move functions to publish that document to a SharePoint team site and its group members.
  • Using SharePoint Content Types to assure that new documents are “born” with templates, rich metadata and retention policies.

OneDrive for Business is the best place to store and manage your documents, giving you the “My Documents” concept on any device. As you share and collaborate with others, content evolves and picks up velocity. When final, you can easily bring it to SharePoint for publishing and permanent storage.

Coordinate

Content in SharePoint is maintained in modern document libraries, making it easy to structure graphically rich, dynamic views of content and metadata. SharePoint’s managed metadata service provides a centralized way to tag and classify information. Tagging and customizing the view can all be accomplished from the library home screen, eliminating multiple clicks to open a property editing screen.

Documents in libraries can be easily shared to Office 365 Groups, and reused in other collaborative apps like Microsoft Teams. In addition, Microsoft Flow can be used to automate common actions, like collecting attachments from email or distributing documents for team review.

Protect

SharePoint already builds on a long tradition of capabilities supporting information lifecycle governance, records management and eDiscovery. Newer capabilities, developed as part of our ongoing engagement with the entire Office 365 suite, include:

  • Information Rights Management—Files can be encrypted using Azure Information Protection/Rights Management Service and can still be used at supported endpoints, including browsers, rich clients and mobile Office clients.
  • Office 365 document retention tags—This new capability offered across Exchange, Skype, OneDrive and SharePoint allows an administrator to centrally define a policy tag in the Security & Compliance Center to enforce document retention and deletion policies. Tags can be set through code, default settings or user actions, and can be auto-applied based on sensitive information types or keywords.
  • Data loss prevention (DLP)—The Security & Compliance Center provides a central point to define policies for 81 predefined information types, such as EU Financial data, and/or create other custom information types. When these types are detected, users can be advised about the policy, or even automatically blocked from sharing or distributing sensitive information based on the dynamic policy definition.
  • Auditing—When combined with unified auditing in hybrid deployments of SharePoint 2016, Office 365 can provide integrated logging of user and administrative actions on content for both on-premises and cloud-based SharePoint and OneDrive locations.

Learn more about our approach to content security in SharePoint and OneDrive by downloading the white paper “File Security in SharePoint and OneDrive for Business.”

Harvest

Content shouldn’t be saved and stored and managed just to fill up storage space. Traditional ECM often concludes with document disposal or retention. We believe that modern content services are cyclical. Content exists to support a future business purpose, such as providing information on a related decision, explaining a historic context or seeding the next cycle of content creation.

Summary

We recognize that effective adoption of SharePoint content services takes some time. At Ignite, we also presented a section on best practices for traditional ECM and modern content services. Please see today’s blog post on the Microsoft Tech Community for more details.

We appreciate the consideration given to our tools by analysts—like Forrester—and are honored that many enterprises are choosing SharePoint as the foundation for content services and digital workplace transformation. We’re already at work planning our next generation of SharePoint content services solutions, and can’t wait to share more with you later this year at our SharePoint Virtual Summit in May 2017 and at Ignite 2017.

SharePoint has long been a strategic platform for collecting and servicing all sorts of content across the enterprise. As part of our ongoing reinvention of SharePoint started in 2016, we’ve begun rolling out enhancements to optimize use and management of content throughout the entire information lifecycle.

We’ll have many more exciting innovations throughout 2017.

—Chris McNulty, senior product manager on the SharePoint team

Announcing the SharePoint Virtual Summit

I am excited to announce the SharePoint Virtual Summit—a free, global online event—will be on May 16, 2017.

With more than 85 million active users, Office 365 empowers individuals, teams and entire organizations with the broadest and deepest toolkit for collaboration. Office 365 is designed to meet the unique workstyle of every group with purpose-built, integrated applications: Outlook for enterprise-grade email; Yammer for networking across the organization; Skype for Business as the backbone for enterprise voice and video; Microsoft Teams, the new chat-based workspace; and SharePoint for intelligent content management and intranets.

Last May, at the Future of SharePoint virtual event—viewed by over 50,000 people—we unveiled a new vision and roadmap for SharePoint and OneDrive. Over the last year, we have delivered on new innovations, including:

  • The first ever SharePoint app across all mobile platforms and a new SharePoint home experience in Office 365.
  • Modern SharePoint Team Sites seamlessly connected to Office 365 Groups and Microsoft Teams.
  • A new OneDrive Sync client with support for SharePoint files and shared folders.
  • PowerApps and Microsoft Flow integration to support rapid app and business process development.
  • SharePoint Framework, a modern, client-side development model and toolchain to usher in the next generation of custom development on SharePoint.
  • New security and compliance capabilities such as data loss prevention (DLP), Conditional Access and Mobile Device Management (MDM).

At this year’s SharePoint Virtual Summit you’ll learn how to take advantage of SharePoint, OneDrive and the rest of the Office 365 collaboration toolkit to create a connected workplace, empowering you to securely connect to the people and content you need, to transform business processes, to inform and engage your employees, and to harness the collective knowledge of your organization.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President Jeff Teper will unveil the latest product innovations and roadmap. You’ll also hear from industry-leading customers on how they are leveraging these technologies as part of their digital transformation. Jeff will be joined by Microsoft Corporate Vice Presidents James Phillips and Chuck Friedman to discuss how Office 365— connected with Windows and Azure—is reinventing productivity for you, your teams and your organization.

We hope you’ll join us at this year’s event so register now to save your space on May 16, 2017.

—Seth Patton, general manager for Office 365 product marketing

Deploy your SharePoint Server 2016 farm in Azure

SharePoint Server 2016 in Microsoft Azure is designed to leverage faster provisioning of servers allowing you to take your first step in hosting a server-based IT workload in the cloud. To dramatically reduce the time it takes you to plan, design, test and deploy SharePoint farms in Azure, we have published articles for SharePoint Server 2016 in Microsoft Azure, including:

In addition, the SharePoint Server 2016 High Availability Farm in Azure Deployment Kit assists you in creating the Azure infrastructure and configuring the servers of the high-availability SharePoint Server 2016 farm. This kit contains Microsoft Visio and Microsoft PowerPoint figures from the support articles, the set of all the PowerShell commands to create and configure the high-availability SharePoint Server 2016 farm in Azure, and a Microsoft Excel configuration workbook that generates the customized PowerShell commands based on your settings.

SharePoint Framework reaches general availability—build and deploy engaging web parts today

The past year has come with significant updates to our SharePoint user experiences, such as modern team sites, document libraries and pages. These modern experiences feature simple and powerful web parts that are responsive, easy to use and mobile-ready. By customizing web parts on a page, team members can build tailored sites that feature the most relevant content and tools for their team. In addition to a rich set of web parts available within SharePoint, developers can also create completely new web parts. We’re modernizing our developer surface to keep pace with rapidly changing techniques and technologies used in the broader industry. SharePoint Framework lets developers take advantage of up-to-date practices, tools and libraries to help them build more engaging, mobile-ready web parts at a rapid pace.

Today, we’re proud to announce the general availability of SharePoint Framework—allowing developers and administrators to build and deploy parts that are used by Office 365 users in their production environments.

What is the SharePoint Framework?

Our partners, customers and independent developers have created innovative solutions using SharePoint’s page and web part model, which was largely implemented in .NET and, like many content and collaboration systems, was designed and matured in the server-rendered era. The SharePoint Framework (SPFx) is a page and web part model that provides full support for client-side SharePoint development, easy integration with SharePoint data and support for open source tooling. With the SharePoint Framework, you can use modern web technologies and tools in your preferred development environment to build productive experiences and apps on SharePoint that are responsive and mobile-ready from day one!

For more details, be sure to check out our full blog post announcing the SharePoint Framework last May.

Product momentum

Since the SharePoint Framework Developer Preview was released in August, we’ve seen substantial community excitement and contributions. At Microsoft Ignite, SharePoint Framework was one of the top discussed items on Twitter among Microsoft technologies at the event. Community contributions to the evolving SharePoint Framework have been strong, with dozens of blog posts around tools and techniques from the community exploring various facets and techniques of building parts. Over 30 code samples are now live in our GitHub repository for code samples—many of which were built by the community. We also have a showcase of parts created by partners—many created a few short weeks after initial release.

SharePoint Framework reaches general availability 1

The React-Multipage (Poll) web partone of over 30 sample web parts developers can begin using.

SharePoint Framework reaches general availability 2

During the developer preview period, the SharePoint Framework itself evolved quickly based on feedback. Over the span of three months, six distinct updates to the framework were made, including many features and fixes based on developer feedback from the community. Examples include improved initial start size and making facets of our build process more customizable and consistent.

What’s next?

The SharePoint Framework General Availability release tools are now available. Over the next week and beyond, the SharePoint Framework General Availability release will be rolled out to Office 365 tenancies. After this, we’ll continue to iterate on the SharePoint Framework, making fixes and improvements based on community feedback. Now that we’ve reached general availability, ensuring continued compatibility across versions will be our focus. We’re also working on the next legs of our product roadmap, including on-premises support and new development scenarios—so stay tuned for new SharePoint Framework extensions and capabilities.

How to get started

Developers can learn more about building web parts and custom solutions with the SharePoint Framework at the Office Dev Center, leveraging code samples from our GitHub repository, and by watching these related sessions from Microsoft Ignite:

Administrators and site owners can now use and deploy SharePoint Framework web parts to their production environments. They can learn more on governing and deploying SharePoint Framework components in this article.

We—and a lot of #SPFx developers—can’t wait to see SharePoint Framework web parts in the hands of users!

Create connected SharePoint Online team sites in seconds

In August 2016, we announced that Office 365 Groups would get full-powered SharePoint team sites. When you create a group, Office 365 gives the group a shared inbox, calendar, OneNote notebook, place for files, Planner for task management—and now a modern team site with pages, lists, libraries and team news, so the group can collaborate, communicate and coordinate. This is now 100 percent rolled out to all Office 365 First Release customers, as noted by the @SharePoint team.

Starting today, people will be able to create SharePoint team sites connected to Office 365 Groups from the SharePoint home in Office 365—and it’s fast. Admins control how these new capabilities appear for their users. And it is more intuitive to adjust the site as business needs require. Now, no matter where users create an Office 365 group (from Outlook, Microsoft Teams, Yammer and more), they will consistently get a full-powered, modern SharePoint Online team site.

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To work together as a team, people need to be adaptable, connected and mobile. In this modern era, it is essential that productivity tools, like SharePoint Online and Office 365 Groups, adhere to these very characteristics.

Let’s dive in to the details of how we’re connecting new sites with groups and making it lightning fast to get started.

Users quickly create sites connected to Office 365 Groups from the SharePoint home page

When it comes to managing information and building business apps, people turn to SharePoint Online team sites—to create multimedia news articles, manage documents, track data in lists and more. Users can create SharePoint Online team sites connected to Office 365 Groups by clicking the Create site button on the SharePoint home page in Office 365. A two-step creation wizard will fly out from the right. Step one: Enter the title of the team site, select whether the group will be public or private, choose the site classification and then click Next. Step two: Enter the owners and members, click Finish and you’re done. A modern SharePoint Online team site is provisioned and ready for use in seconds.

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The Create site wizard is connected to Office 365 Groups and creates a SharePoint Online team site in seconds.

Admin controls for how team site creation works from SharePoint home

What about managing the Create site functionality? SharePoint Online admins can control the user availability and behavior of the SharePoint home Create site button, and in cooperation, Office 365 global admins can control how site classification appears to highlight usage guidelines to their users.

The updated Site Creation settings can be found in the SharePoint Online admin center—within the settings tab. The new experience will let users create sites that include Office 365 Groups by clicking the Create site button on the SharePoint home page that starts the new Create site wizard. If you already enabled the original Start a Site for your users, we recommend that you review the new settings to ensure you selected options that meet your business needs.

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Admins control how Create site works using the Site Creation settings within their SharePoint Online admin center.

Admins can manage whether Create site appears at all, and when it does, admins can adjust who sees the Create site button and what their provisioning experience should be (classic, modern or custom).

Learn more about how to manage Site Creation in SharePoint Online. Additionally, admins can control additional aspects of Office 365 Groups. Learn more about how to manage Office 365 Groups.

Adjust team sites as needs grow and change

As the entire SharePoint Online team site experience becomes more modern, users can more easily adjust commonly used settings without having to click multiple times into a classic site settings page—but rather accomplish tasks more intuitively within the context of what they are doing.

Editable home page

Create your site to meet your team’s needs. The team site home page is now editable. This means you can go into Edit mode and add, remove and reorder your site’s various web parts. Do you need to see a rollup of certain content on a particular topic? Add the Highlighted Content web part, select the filtering criteria and watch as content adjusts dynamically based on search. Want to add a group forum discussion? Throw the Yammer web part in the mix. There are a lot of web parts already available, and more are coming. Also, as you add and adjust, you can be confident the page and web parts will look great on web and mobile (within the SharePoint mobile apps).

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When in Edit mode, users can use the toolbox to add new web parts to their home page.

Learn more about using web parts on pages.

Modern create panel for new libraries and lists

We’ve modernized the experience for creating new lists and document libraries, to help users add value to their team sites right from the top portion of the team site home page, instead of multiple clicks in. Click + New, choose the new component from the drop-down menu, and out pops the create wizard.

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Click + New > List to bring up the inline creation pane to provide details, and then click Create.

In-place navigation editing

We’ve also brought forward in-line editing of left navigation elements, a nice feature that helps site owners encourage all members to find and make use of the site’s full capabilities.

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Easily add new URL links to the left-hand navigation and adjust where and how the link shows up in the left-hand nav.

Edit site information

As needs change—for instance, a project codename getting a final public name—we’ve built in to the modern team sites experience a new way to edit site properties without leaving the home page. The editing panel is available for connected Office 365 Groups sites—accessible from the top-right gear menu. It allows owners to update the site name, description, privacy level and classification. Changes made here will also be reflected in the group. Note: we will be removing Site Settings from the gear—instead, we’ll show Site Information to make it simple to change the most common information, and from this panel, users will have a link to the full site settings page if they need more advanced configuration.

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Edit site permissions

Beyond site information, site owners may want to further refine the level of access group members have when working in the team site. For this, we’re bringing a site permissions panel for connected Office 365 Groups sites—also accessible from the top-right gear menu. We think owners of public groups will particularly appreciate how easy this makes it to decide whether non-members should have full edit permissions, or whether public access should be limited to read-only viewing.

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Give your classic site a modern home page

It is now possible to create a modern page in a classic team site and declare it as the new, modern home page. You simply go to the Site Pages library within Site contents. Create a new, modern page and add whatever web parts make sense for the front of the team site. Once it looks as you want it to, select the page from within the Site Page library and choose Make homepage from the command bar above. Your classic site just got a modern face lift.

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Select Make homepage to declare a modern page as Home in a classic team site.

We look forward to your feedback

SharePoint Online team sites and Office 365 Groups bring integrated content collaboration to a new level. And there’s more to come, making it easier to create, use and manage content and information throughout the work cycle. We look forward to your feedback every step of the way. Please share your thoughts in the SharePoint space of the Microsoft Technical Community and submit your ideas to the SharePoint UserVoice page—and we always have an eye on tweets to @SharePoint. Let us know.

Frequently asked questions

Q. What is the rollout plan for the new Create site capabilities on SharePoint home in Office 365?

A. This week, we will first update the Start a Site settings in the SharePoint admin center for our First Release customers. The new settings will be renamed Site Creation, and admins can then decide if they want their users to get the new site creation experience. The user capability to create modern sites connected to Office 365 Groups will then be enabled the following week.

Q. What happens if my company already built a custom site collection provisioning solution?

A. If you have built a custom site collection provisioning solution, you will be able to maintain it when you select the Use this form at this URL: checkbox. We are working on updating SharePoint Patterns and Practices (PnP) guidance so you can provision a new, modern team site connected to Office 365 Groups (instead of a classic site)—you will be able to programmatically do one or the other per your requirements.

Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016 now available

Today’s post was written by Bill Baer, senior product manager for the SharePoint team.

When we launched SharePoint Server 2016, we shared our vision that it would be a foundational release, born in the cloud and built for continuous innovation. Today, we’re pleased to announce our next step on this journey with the availability of Feature Pack 1.

Through the November 2016 Public Update for SharePoint Server 2016, we’re delivering several new features based on customer feedback, extending support for hybrid scenarios and developer needs, including:

  • Administrative actions logging for common SharePoint administrative actions.
  • MinRole enhancements to support small and medium-sized farms.
  • A OneDrive for Business modern experience.
  • Custom tiles in the SharePoint app launcher.
  • SharePoint hybrid auditing unified across site collections on-premises and in Office 365.
  • Hybrid taxonomy unified across on-premises and Office 365.
  • OneDrive API for SharePoint on-premises.

Administrative actions logging

SharePoint administrators spend time troubleshooting administrative changes to their on-premises environment that can result in failure conditions or other undesired effects. To aid in troubleshooting, especially in the increasingly common multiple administrator set-ups, we have added logging around key SharePoint administrative actions performed either through the SharePoint Server 2016 Central Administration website or through the SharePoint Server 2016 Management Shell.

MinRole enhancements

MinRole is the new farm topology in SharePoint Server 2016 that simplifies your deployment experience and improves performance and reliability. Based on a set of predefined server roles, MinRole takes the guesswork out of making sure that services are running on the right servers in your farm. You decide what services you want to run in your farm, and MinRole handles the details of where they should run.

We’ve enhanced MinRole with two new server roles that are optimized for small and medium-sized farms: Front-end with Distributed Cache and Application with Search. Now, you can deploy a MinRole farm with just two servers or a high availability (HA) MinRole farm with just four servers. Our farm topology guidance has been updated to cover the full range of MinRole farm sizes.

OneDrive for Business modern experience

The new look and feel is clean, intuitive and beautiful; the navigation is simple to understand and use, and you always have frequently used actions like upload, edit and share just one click or touch away. We’ve also made it easier to keep your files organized with easy selection and drag-and-drop features that work just like folders on your PC. And power users will notice that familiar keyboard commands and right-click options make working with your files even faster. The OneDrive for Business modern experience is available to Software Assurance customers.

Custom tiles

The App Launcher provides quick and easy access to all your SharePoint and Office 365 workloads. Now, you can also add your own custom tiles that point to other SharePoint sites, external sites, legacy apps and more. This makes it easy to find the relevant sites, apps and resources to do your job.

OneDrive API

Build a quick integration that allows your users easy access to OneDrive files from within your app. Now, with OneDrive for Business support, you can build a robust file management and workflow app for your line of business.

The OneDrive API provides a set of HTTP services to connect your application to files and folders in OneDrive Personal, OneDrive for Business and document libraries in SharePoint Online. OneDrive API makes it easy to connect your app to your user’s files across Office 365 and access the advanced functionality of files in OneDrive and SharePoint.

In addition to the updates above, we’re extending support for additional hybrid scenarios with SharePoint and Office. Hybrid provides a bridge between your existing on-premises SharePoint investments and Office 365. With Feature Pack 1, we’re introducing two new hybrid scenarios, auditing and taxonomy.

SharePoint hybrid auditing (preview)

Microsoft SharePoint Insights is a new hybrid feature that aims at helping administrators manage their SharePoint infrastructure by giving them access to various reports and dashboards in Office 365. The reports generated from SharePoint 2016 Preview on-premises diagnostic and usage logs.

If you opt in for this service, audit logs get collected and uploaded to Office 365 regularly. From the Office 365 dashboard, you can view auditing and activity reports that show usage and reliability patterns in your SharePoint Server farm.

Hybrid taxonomy (preview)

Taxonomy is key to promoting discoverability and access to the right information at the right time. Hybrid taxonomy in SharePoint Server 2016 allows customers to bring their taxonomy store to Office 365 enabling a single-source for creating and managing Terms, Term Sets and Groups through a single Managed Metadata Service.

Learn more about what’s in Feature Pack 1 and how to get started at go.microsoft.com. For more information, read our blog post, “Announcing Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016—cloud-born and future-proof.”

—Bill Baer

SharePoint welcomes PowerApps and Microsoft Flow

Today marks general availability of Microsoft Flow and PowerApps, which enable people to automate workflows and quickly build custom apps that suit their specific needs. Earlier this year, we announced integration of SharePoint with Microsoft Flow, enabling you to create and launch flows directly from a SharePoint list. We also announced that native integration of PowerApps and SharePoint would drive rich new experiences to continue reinventing business processes with modern document libraries and modern lists in SharePoint.

We know that tight integration is essential to unlocking productivity gains for the digital workplace. Accessing data from mobile devices was a first step. Bringing business processes to the same site for team documents and data is next. That’s why SharePoint is a great home for your enterprise business applications.

As we recognize today’s milestones for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow, you can also look ahead to even deeper integration of these business tools as part of SharePoint, as we showcased at Ignite in September.

Upcoming integration with SharePoint

PowerApps will be fully integrated into the SharePoint web experience. PowerApps provides a great mobile experience, and now that experience is connected to the data stored in SharePoint lists. Soon you’ll be able to integrate PowerApps as the default in-browser experience for any SharePoint modern list.

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PowerApps embedded in a SharePoint list.

This means:

  • You’ll be able to launch PowerApps directly from the SharePoint mobile app.
  • Modern document libraries will be made available as a data source for PowerApps and Microsoft Flow.
  • For Microsoft Flow, you’ll be able to run any flow on demand for a specific document or list item, in addition to waiting for an automated trigger to fire.
  • Using the data gateway, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow will work with on-premises data in SQL and SharePoint as simply as cloud-based data.
  • Deeper integration of Power BI with SharePoint Online. Business process requires more than data and automation. Power BI has been a leader in visualization analytics, and soon you’ll be able to embed visualizations and charts from Power BI directly into a SharePoint team site.

PowerApps and Microsoft Flow will be enabled automatically for most Office 365 commercial plans in November 2016. You’ll be able to connect to data in SharePoint Online and on-premises, as well as SQL, Exchange, OneDrive and a broad range of enterprise services such as Yammer, Twitter and Box. Further details on pricing are available at www.powerapps.com/pricing.

We encourage you to explore the resources available at powerapps.com and flow.microsoft.com, and communicate with us at sharepoint.uservoice.com.

—Seth Patton, general manager for OneDrive and SharePoint

Frequently asked questions

Q. What does Microsoft’s commitment to PowerApps and Microsoft Flow mean for historic business solutions on SharePoint, like InfoPath?

A. As we announced at Ignite, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow are tools for business users to build business applications and automation in SharePoint today and tomorrow. They are the successors to InfoPath and SharePoint Designer for many common business scenarios, especially custom forms used on SharePoint lists.

Q. Will Microsoft still support InfoPath and SharePoint Designer?

A. As we announced earlier in 2016:

  • SharePoint Server 2016 will include an ongoing capability to host InfoPath Forms Services. InfoPath Forms Services on SharePoint 2016 will be supported for the duration of SharePoint 2016’s support lifecycle.
  • InfoPath Forms Services on Office 365 will continue to be supported.
  • InfoPath 2013 and SharePoint Designer 2013 will be the last versions of those products. SharePoint Designer is not being re-released with SharePoint Server 2016, although we will continue to support custom workflows built with SharePoint Designer and hosted on SharePoint Server 2016 and Office 365. Support for InfoPath 2013 and SharePoint Designer 2013 will match the support lifecycle for SharePoint Server 2016, running until 2026.

Q. What can customers expect to see inside SharePoint Online?

A. The release is principally a licensing event. If you have previously enabled preview features inside SharePoint Online, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow will continue to appear in the App Launcher and as elements of modern lists. If you had disabled access to preview features, users will see those integrations enabled in the next few weeks.

Q. How can Office 365 customers connect to custom data sources?

A. Every Office 365-licensed user of PowerApps and Microsoft Flow can create a custom API data connection, in addition to the intrinsic ability to connect to sources like SQL, Exchange, Yammer, Box and Twitter.

Announcing Feature Pack 1 for SharePoint Server 2016—cloud-born and future-proof

Last May, we announced our vision, strategy, timeline and investment areas for SharePoint in Office 365 and on-premises. We unveiled our plan to bring cloud-born innovation to SharePoint Server 2016. Today, we’re excited to announce details for Feature Pack 1.

We’re pleased to announce that we’re ahead of schedule with our inaugural Feature Pack for SharePoint Server 2016. Feature Pack 1, available in November, brings several enhancements driven by recent innovation in Office 365 and feedback from you on UserVoice, including:

  • Logging of administrative actions performed in Central Administration and with Windows PowerShell.
  • Enhancements to MinRole to support small environments.
  • A new OneDrive for Business user experience.
  • Custom tiles in the SharePoint app launcher.
  • Unified auditing across site collections on-premises and in Office 365.
  • Unified taxonomy across on-premises and Office 365.
  • OneDrive API 2.0.

We’re excited to share with you some of the details of Feature Pack 1 today.

What’s a Feature Pack?

Unlike previous versions of SharePoint, release-to-manufacture (RTM) did not define the end of innovation, but the beginning. As we continue to develop SharePoint Server 2016, we’ve paid close attention to customer feedback, trends in content management, team collaboration, user experiences across devices, and how the cloud can be blended into existing on-premises scenarios in new and compelling ways. Feature Packs allow us to accelerate delivery of cloud-first features to our Software Assurance customers (where noted) of SharePoint Server 2016 outside of the traditional 2- to 3-year release cadence.

New capabilities for administrators

For IT professionals, Feature Pack 1 includes several new capabilities based on feedback we received throughout the development of SharePoint Server 2016, from IT Preview to Release Candidate.

Administrative actions logging—SharePoint administrators spend a considerable amount of time troubleshooting administrative changes to their on-premises environment, which can result in failure conditions or other undesired effects.

We heard your feedback surrounding the need for more insightful, granular logging and, in Feature Pack 1, we introduced logging of common administrative actions performed in the Central Administration website and with Windows PowerShell.

MinRole enhancements—One of the infrastructure advancements in SharePoint Server 2016 was the concept of MinRole. MinRole is designed to transform architectural guidance into code, simplifying deployment and scale with SharePoint by ensuring a request is served end-to-end by the receiving server based on the origin of the request (i.e., end user or batch processing) and role of the destination server.

MinRole was originally optimized for larger farm topologies. With four server roles, the minimal requirement for a supported MinRole configuration was a four-server farm. A farm with high availability (HA) requires two servers for each role, making eight servers the minimal requirement for a HA MinRole configuration. You told us that you would like to have the benefits of MinRole with smaller farm topologies too. We listened to you and enhanced MinRole to address this request.

Once the new MinRole enhancements are enabled, you will notice that two additional server roles are available: “Front-end with Distributed Cache” and “Application with Search.” The Front-end with Distributed Cache role combines the Front-end and Distributed Cache roles together, while the Application with Search role combines the Application and Search roles together. These new roles let you host a multi-server MinRole farm with just two servers or four servers with HA.

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New user experiences

A new OneDrive for Business experience—OneDrive for Business is an integral part of Office 365 and SharePoint Server. It provides a place where you can store, share and sync your work files. OneDrive for Business makes it easy to manage and share your documents from anywhere, and work together in real-time, on your favorite devices. Feature Pack 1 brings the modern OneDrive for Business user experience to SharePoint Server 2016. The new OneDrive user experience is a Software Assurance benefit.

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SharePoint App Launcher custom tiles—The App Launcher was introduced in SharePoint Server 2016 with the ability to extend the tiles with the SharePoint Hybrid App Launcher to include apps available in Office 365. The App Launcher provides a common location to discover new apps and navigate between on-premises SharePoint and Office 365 applications. Now, in addition to native SharePoint and Office 365 apps, you can also add your own custom tiles that point to other SharePoint sites, external sites, legacy apps and more. This makes it easy to find and navigate to the relevant sites, apps and resources to do your job.

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Hybrid capabilities

Unified auditing—Unified auditing gives SharePoint administrators detailed visibility into file access activities across all site collections, on-premises and in Office 365. With unified auditing in place, the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center can provide audit logs search for your SharePoint Server 2016 on-premises audit logs in addition to Office 365 audit logs.

This hybrid auditing capability—powered by Microsoft SharePoint Insights—enters preview with Feature Pack 1. Configuration is simple: a few clicks in Hybrid Scenario Picker wizard and you’re ready to start viewing and experiencing unified auditing.

Learn more about hybrid auditing (preview), powered by Microsoft SharePoint Insights.

Unified taxonomy—SharePoint’s managed metadata service application makes it possible to create a taxonomy for information architecture across site collections and web applications. With Feature Pack 1, you can implement a unified taxonomy across a SharePoint Server 2016 farm and Office 365. You can seed the term store in SharePoint Online from your on-premises term store and then manage your taxonomy in SharePoint Online. Replication to on-premises SharePoint is performed by the hybrid taxonomy feature.

Learn more about the hybrid taxonomy (preview) feature.

For more information on other SharePoint and Office 365 hybrid scenarios, see hybrid.office.com.

Developer enhancements

OneDrive API 2.0—The OneDrive API provides a common API for access to files located on-premises and in the Office 365 cloud. The API provides access and enables developers to build solutions that target user data stored in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint document libraries.

SharePoint Roadmap

Feature Pack 1 features will be generally available November 2016. To learn more about the Feature Pack process, be sure to attend the BRK2047 Explore Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016 and Beyond session at Microsoft Ignite.

As we make decisions about where to invest to deliver cloud-born innovation to your on-premises teams, we look forward to hearing from you. Please share your thoughts and ideas through the Microsoft Technical Community and SharePoint’s UserVoice.

The future of SharePoint Server is bright, and we are excited to collaborate with you on our next steps, and to empower you, your teams and your organization to do more.

Join the conversation

Send us your comments, suggestions and feedback:

—Bill Baer, @williambaer, senior product manager of the SharePoint team

Frequently asked questions

Q. Is there a cost for Feature Pack 1?

A. No, there is no cost associated with Feature Pack 1; however, some features of Feature Pack 1 are limited to Software Assurance customers where noted in this post.

Q. Where can I learn more about Software Assurance?

A. To learn more about the benefits of Software Assurance and how to get started, see this overview.

Q. How can I find out if I have Software Assurance or check my benefits?

A. Your Software Assurance benefits are determined by your Volume Licensing agreement, such as the Enterprise Agreement (EA), Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) or Open Value agreement—and by the qualifying license purchases you have with Software Assurance.

Depending on which agreement your organization has, you use one of two tools to manage your available Software Assurance benefits.

Use the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) to view and activate your Software Assurance benefits. You must be registered to use the VLSC. To learn more about registration, view how-to videos or download the VLSC Software Assurance Guide at VLSC Training and Resources. You can also contact your Microsoft Partner for more information.

If you are a Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) customer, the Microsoft Volume Licensing Center (MVLC) is your destination for easy management of your Software Assurance benefits. Sign in to the MVLC to view and start using your available Software Assurance benefits. Learn more about Software Assurance and the MPSA.

Enhanced conditional access controls, encryption controls and site classification in SharePoint and OneDrive

Microsoft understands that enterprise security is critical. Trust is not a product—it’s a value that must be earned. Our approach to SharePoint and OneDrive security, privacy and compliance is simple: It’s your data. You own it. You control it. We’re just caretakers. We give you controls to manage the data, paired with our own controls for securing and running our services. Policy governs every stage of a file’s journey, from conception to deletion.

Our investments are focused on five core pillars.

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  • Platform security—Protect information at rest and in transit with layered encryption, Microsoft datacenter procedures and customer controls for access and key management.
  • Secure access and sharing—Ensure sensitive data remains secure with managed access and sharing settings.
  • Awareness and insights—Track account and file activity with full transparency using reports and alerts.
  • Information governance—Govern your data retention, discovery and deletion policies.
  • Compliance and trust—Leverage Microsoft’s continuous compliance, ongoing certification and transparent operations.

Security, privacy and compliance are a core pillar of SharePoint’s vision for collaboration in Office 365.

Today at Ignite, we’re announcing the next wave of innovations that give you more control over your company’s valuable information and intellectual property:

  • Conditional access policies that govern access to files based on endpoint location (available today).
  • Granular conditional access policies based on the managed state of a device (available by end of year).
  • New Office 365 datacenter locations in Germany and Canada, extending our industry leadership in the number of distinct global regions to meet your compliance needs (available today in Canada and by end of year in Germany).
  • Customer-controlled SharePoint and OneDrive encryption keys (available by end of year).
  • Site classification that guides users to understand the value and sensitivity of information and can be extended to apply classification-specific security configuration (available by end of year).
  • Unified auditing across site collections in Office 365 and on-premises SharePoint Server 2016 with Feature Pack 1 (available in November 2016).

Below is an overview of these innovative experiences and capabilities, with links to additional resources.

Conditional access policies for location

Access controls have traditionally been scoped to users or groups. Today, a user’s work is no longer limited to one computer on a desk, and information risks exposure as users connect mobile devices to unsecure networks or use personal, unmanaged devices.

Conditional access in SharePoint and OneDrive goes beyond user permissions: it is based on a combination of factors, such as the identity of a user or group, the network that the user is connected to, the device and application they are using, and the type of data they are trying to access. The access granted to the user adapts to this broader set of conditions.

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Control user access based on location.

With new location-based conditional access policies in SharePoint Online, you can limit access to specific corporate networks or locations. For example, if you restrict access to only your corporate network, users will not be able to access organizational data when they leave the office. This policy helps you prevent access to organization’s data from rogue or insecure networks.

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Blocking access from unknown locations.

Conditional access based on device state

We recognize that users are increasingly mobile and use multiple devices, including personal devices, to access organizational data. It is important to enable users to be productive on any device while maintaining the security of data across all devices. That is why we are announcing new device access policies that allow you to decide the level of access you want to offer different types of devices based on the management state of each device.

Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility Suite allows you to customize the definition of a managed device to fit the needs of your organization. You can either grant full access, prevent all access or allow restricted access from unmanaged devices.

The new restricted access policy allows a user to view a file in their browser but does not allow them to download, print or sync. This allows users to be productive on personal, unmanaged devices, but at the same time, prevent accidental leakage of data to devices that are not managed by the organization.

When you set any of these policies, you also default to blocking access from legacy apps that can’t enforce device-based restrictions.

Customer-controlled encryption keys

One of the core principles of security in SharePoint Online is that your data is yours. We are only the custodians of your data. It is always stored and served using multiple Microsoft encryption controls to assure information privacy and integrity.

In addition, we are announcing today the upcoming availability of customer-controlled encryption keys, sometimes referred to as “bring your own key.” Customer-controlled encryption keys provide an additional layer of security and privacy above that which is already supplied by Microsoft. You can use customer-managed “master keys” to encrypt/decrypt the individual encryption keys used to encrypt each file. You can also decide to change or revoke access to these keys to guarantee that Microsoft has no way to access encrypted files.

Identify sensitive information, guide users and apply security configuration with site classification

Using the new site classification feature, you can apply a custom label to a SharePoint site and its associated Office 365 group. The label identifies the sensitivity of the information for the site and group. The site classification appears in the header of the site and group pages and serves as a reminder to users that your organization has guidance regarding the use and sharing of information on the site.

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The site classification is a property that can be accessed programmatically, so you can script reporting or the application of additional security policies. Site classification will enter First Release in October. You will be able to select a classification when provisioning a site and group from SharePoint home, and you will see the site classification in the header of site and group pages.

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In the future, we will give you the ability to link Office 365 information policies directly to site classification, without the need for script or code.

Unified auditing

SharePoint unified auditing combines data from the cloud and on-premises for complete audit reporting in one unified console in the Office 365 Security and Compliance Center. Unified auditing will be enabled for on-premises customers as part of SharePoint Server 2016 Feature Pack 1 in November 2016. After Feature Pack 1 is enabled, customers will have the option to join the public preview using the hybrid configuration wizard in SharePoint Online administration.

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Once enabled, auditing data from on-premises is available in the Security and Compliance Center, as shown below.

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These innovations build on our recent investments in Office 365 security and compliance. Read these recent posts for more information:

Today’s announcements represent the continued investments we are making in security, privacy and compliance. We stand by these values. To learn more about how we deliver powerful security controls as the foundation for simple user experiences, please read our white paper.

Please share your thoughts and ideas through the Microsoft Technical Community and SharePoint’s UserVoice. And for the latest information on Office 365 security and compliance, visit the Office 365 Trust Center.

—Chris McNulty, senior product manager for the SharePoint and OneDrive teams

Enriching the mobile and intelligent intranet with team news, apps for Android and Windows and more

The intranet is the publishing center of all things happening throughout your company. It is where people keep up with news and discover what’s happening around them at work. It’s time, now, to further empower employees—more precisely, give them a way to broadcast their work.

Today at Ignite, we are pleased to announce the newest waves of innovations to your mobile and intelligent intranet, powered by SharePoint, including:

  • Team news for SharePoint Online modern team sites (announced today).
  • SharePoint mobile apps for Android and Windows 10 Mobile (in preview today).
  • News roll-up tab within the SharePoint mobile app for iOS (announced today).
  • Create a modern team site and an associated Office 365 group from the SharePoint home (announced today).
  • New people experiences within SharePoint Online team sites, document libraries and lists, and OneDrive for Business (rolling out now).

Below is a summary—along with links to additional resources—of these innovations.

Keep the team informed and up-to-date with team news

Team news is how you keep up with and broadcast key events and accomplishments with other members of the team and extended stakeholders. You can use team news for things like trip reports, best practices, project updates, highlights of new documents and content, welcoming a new team member, sharing team goals and celebrating milestones.

To add a news item, from within the News web part on the team site home page, click + Add to create a news article. Next, add content to the news post using the toolbox—a gallery of web parts—to add text, video, documents, quick links and more. When you’re finished, click Publish and the news article will be featured prominently on the team site home page within the News web part. And when you click See All, you’ll land on a dedicated News page that serves as the team’s news archive.

Below shows how a team site with all the news—front and center—is displayed in the SharePoint mobile app:

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Team news in the SharePoint app. News articles render beautifully in the SharePoint app.

Team news is a great way to broadcast of all the important content from your team. In the future, you will receive mobile and email notifications to help keep you up to date.

SharePoint mobile app previews come to Android and Windows 10 Mobile

In June 2016, we released the first version of the SharePoint mobile app for iOS—your intranet in your pocket. Today, we are filling more pockets by introducing the SharePoint mobile app for both Android and Windows 10 Mobile previews.

The SharePoint mobile app helps keep your work moving forward by providing quick access to your team sites, organizational portals and the people you work with throughout Office 365 by letting you search for content and people across your organization. We leverage the Microsoft Graph to power several of the in-app experiences, providing you relevant information to get to the content and people you work with most frequently.

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Android: Main Sites tab showing Frequent and Followed sites. Android: Team site showing site activity, files, lists and the full site navigation.
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Windows 10 Mobile: Main Sites tab showing Frequent and Followed sites. Windows 10 Mobile: team site showing site activity, files, lists and the full site navigation.

You can use the SharePoint mobile app to:

  • Navigate from Sites to team sites you follow or frequently visit.
  • Navigate from Links to important sites configured by your organization.
  • Catch up on what’s happened with the Activity view, which shows recent file activity in your team site.
  • Open your document libraries with the OneDrive app and then edit your files using Office mobile apps like Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
  • Learn more about people you work with and discover what they are working on.
  • Perform an enterprise-wide search to find sites, files and people throughout your organization.
  • Android first: you’ll be able to launch a PowerApp from a team site directly in the SharePoint mobile app.

Learn more about SharePoint mobile app for Android and the SharePoint mobile app for Windows 10 Mobile.

Catch up with all your team’s news in the SharePoint app on iOS

If you use the SharePoint app on iOS, you get the first look at the mobile experience of team news. When you tap the News tab, you will see a list of aggregated news using the intelligence of the Microsoft Graph from the sites you work in, the sites you follow and the sites your colleagues work in. SharePoint mobile on iOS gives you one place to catch up on the news from across your intranet. That’s your news in your pocket!

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News on SharePoint mobile will come to other platforms as a future update.

Create a modern team site and an associated Office 365 group from the SharePoint home

We’re pleased to announce that soon you’ll be able to create a site and a group for your team—right from SharePoint home in Office 365. The Create site wizard will create an Office 365 group as well as a modern SharePoint team site. You will even be able add members and classify the site along the way. And if you’ve ever waited for a SharePoint site to be provisioned in the past, you’ll discover this process will create the site in mere seconds.

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Coming soon: Create a team site right from SharePoint home.

The result is the same as when you create an Office 365 group from Outlook: every group in Office 365 Groups gets the full power of a SharePoint Online team site.

Know who’s who, and who’s working on what, with new people cards

Teamwork is all about the people and what they’re working on. Now, when you see a person in a SharePoint team site, document library, list, or in OneDrive for Business, the value of discovering more about that person lies at your fingertips where you are already working.

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People cards appear in SharePoint document libraries when you hover over a person’s name.

When you hover over a person’s name or photo, you’ll now see a richer people card. Previously, the card contained basic contact information and one-click methods to connect with the person. Now, you instantly see who the person works for and what documents they recently worked on. Powered by the Microsoft Graph, these intelligent people cards provide a personalized and actionable experience as you work with your files across Office 365.

Read more about upcoming updates to people experiences throughout Office 365.

Stay tuned for more innovations

The innovations will keep coming. For example, with news, you’ll see enhancements to the news reading experience on both mobile and web, and you will be able to interact with news as well as sign up for notifications. We’ll expand on team news, using the Microsoft Graph to provide a stream of personalized news from across all your sites, complementing it with traditional corporate news articles. In future iterations, we envision corporate, divisional and influential blog posts to be surfaced along with a blend of top-down, curated content all powered by Microsoft Graph-driven relevance.

Here is a summary of what we’re doing to power your mobile, intelligent intranet:

Release date Feature
First Release in October 2016. Team news in SharePoint Online team sites.
In preview today. SharePoint mobile apps for Android and Windows 10 Mobile.
Update pushed to App Store in October 2016. News tab within SharePoint mobile app for iOS.
First Release in October 2016. Create site from SharePoint home integrated with Office 365 Groups.
Rolling out now. New people experiences in SharePoint Online document libraries and OneDrive for Business.

Good news is good news. We hope you like all the news we’re sharing today. We look forward to your feedback. Please share your thoughts in the SharePoint space of the Microsoft Technical Community and submit your ideas to the SharePoint UserVoice page—and we always have an eye on our tweets @SharePoint. Let us know.

—Mark Kashman, senior product manager for the SharePoint team