Microsoft Plans OneDrive, SharePoint Summer Update Spree

This summer, Microsoft will start rolling out updates that enhance collaboration on OneDrive and help organizations spread the word internally with SharePoint.

Microsoft SharePoint Server 2016

Microsoft held its SharePoint Virtual Summit earlier this week, showing off many new features that are coming soon to SharePoint, and OneDrive. Among them is a new file-sharing experience for the latter that is better integrated into the built-in file management tools in Windows (7 and 10) and Mac.

Sometime this summer, a new OneDrive sharing option will appear when users navigate to an Office 365 file or folder using File Explorer on Windows and Finder on a Mac, allowing coworkers to directly send files to one another. Alternately, they can create web links for colleagues in external organizations. Users can also set an expiration date on links and modify the permissions they set on any given file.

Dux Raymond Sy, CMO and CTO of the Public Sector division at AvePoint, a SharePoint management specialist, believes the new sharing features will result in safer and more seamless information sharing within organizations.

"The innovation within OneDrive is what I call collaboration on my own terms—people can connect anywhere, anytime with anyone," Sy told eWEEK in an email. "I also anticipate that customers will see value in the updates Microsoft has made to OneDrive's sharing experience. Permissions will be tightened up, and end users will be able to easily view and modify who has access to certain documents."

Also this summer, Microsoft will launch SharePoint communication sites, an alternative to team sites that can be used to distribute content more broadly across an organization. Meant to get the message across quickly and as widely as possible, a communication site can be created in seconds using a collection of default web parts, including Yammer, Bing maps and an image gallery.

Users of Microsoft no-code business app builder, PowerApps, will soon have the ability to create custom forms that appear in SharePoint lists and libraries. To help speed up the approvals process at many organizations, Microsoft also announced the impending arrival of newly built-in "approval flows" for SharePoint based on the Flow automated workflow platform.

In the fourth quarter of 2017, Microsoft plans to roll out a revamped Admin Center. On the surface, the homepage will look different with interactive usage reporting and a Message Center that displays the latest alerts and notifications.

Delving deeper, administrators will find a new Site Management page that serves as a single destination to view and manage SharePoint sites. The company is also enhancing security by gathering conditional access controls into a Device Access page that enables businesses to quickly set policies restrict file sharing based user, device and location characteristics.

Microsoft's focus on SharePoint security helps address some of the riskier aspects of mobile collaboration, Sy observed.

"Security issues can often hinder productivity; and that's why Microsoft just rolled out its new SharePoint admin center as well as support for customer managed keys. At first glance, the admin center, keys and conditional access policies will be game-changers in safeguarding the data living within Office 365 and SharePoint," said Sy.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the Internet.com network of...