SharePoint Is Back!

A while ago, some have predicted the death of SharePoint, stating that the SharePoint brand was not even present in Office 365 and that Microsoft would not release any new versions of the on-premises SharePoint Server. Today, on Star Wars day, Microsoft renewed its vows in a SharePoint-focused event appropriately called The Future of SharePoint and announced a ton of new features and an ambitious roadmap for its flagship collaboration platform. For a 10-year SharePoint fan such as myself, it was great to watch.

There is no SharePoint or Office 365 event that doesn’t start with a keynote full of usage statistics, and this was no exception. Seth Patton and Jeff Teper delivered some impressive statistics that show off the impact of SharePoint all around the world:

  • More than 200.000 client organizations
  • More than 190 Million paid seats
  • More than 1 Million developers
  • Solutions ecosystem worth more than 10 Billion USD
  • 2x usage growth in the last year (SharePoint Online)
  • 5x content growth in the last year (SharePoint Online)
  • More that 40% of all seats and 60% of new seats are SharePoint Online
  • Office 365 has over 70 Million active users, which makes it the largest productivity service in the world

The new features and capabilities were announced across four areas:

I’m not going to dive into each announcement because you can read all about it in the Office Blogs and in numerous other blogs and websites. Rather, I will highlight the ones that I found most interesting:

  • In Office 365, the Sites tile will be renamed to SharePoint. A simple change that is very significant since it reinforces Microsoft’s commitment to the SharePoint brand.
  • Microsoft is releasing a new SharePoint Mobile App for all platforms, starting with iOS. It is a simple but powerful new way to interact with SharePoint.
  • OneDrive will also get a Universal Windows Platform App
  • The new OneDrive for Business sync client will allow synchronization of SharePoint Online document libraries (which can already be done with the previous sync client)
  • SharePoint will allow copy/move of documents between OneDrive and document libraries, through the web interface
  • SharePoint Online will get a new homepage with some similarities with Delve
  • Team sites are getting an overhaul, with a new responsive UI
  • The content authoring on publishing sites has been completely overhauled with a much simpler and streamlined experienced
  • Office 365 Groups and Team Sites will have a 1-to-1 relationship, which means Team Sites will become the place where group members come to collaborate
  • SharePoint lists and libraries have a new UI, consistent with OneDrive look&feel
  • Microsoft Flow and PowerApps will be integrated into SharePoint lists and libraries
  • Microsoft is releasing a new client-side development framework called SharePoint Framework, which leverages new web development tools and technologies
  • Regarding security, privacy and compliance, Microsoft is also pushing ahead of the competition with the introduction of the Data Loss Protection (DLP) features, Customer Lockbox, dynamic conditional access policies and the possibility to Bring Your Own encryption key
  • Microsoft is also increasing the pace at which new features reach the on-premises version SharePoint, via the new SharePoint Server 2016 Feature Packs. These will be granular packages that will upgrade specific features in SharePoint Server, and will become available starting in 2017.

Overall, it was a great event with plenty of demos and announcements. For me, however, the highlight was Microsoft’s renewed focus and commitment to SharePoint as a platform and brand.

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