Microsoft introduces the future of SharePoint

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Earlier this morning we reported on news that OneDrive’s Universal Windows Platform app was likely to launch later this month along with a new mobile app for SharePoint. Not long after these reports started circulating, Microsoft officially announced their vision for the future of OneDrive and SharePoint.

While the announcement did not include hard dates, Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of OneDrive and SharePoint, revealed that OneDrive UWP app and SharePoint for iOS app will roll out this quarter, with SharePoint for Android and Windows Phone to be made available before the end of the year. But more importantly, these new apps are apart of a new vision for the future of SharePoint and making collaboration both easier and more intelligent.

For those not familiar with SharePoint, the solution is Microsoft’s flexible web application platform which companies use to share data, communicate, and manage workflows. SharePoint is a step up from the traditional company intranet and is built to work alongside the rest of Microsoft’s Office programs. But since being launched 15 years ago, a great number of new entrants have also been trying to reinvent productivity. Now Microsoft is moving SharePoint towards a “cloud-first, mobile-first” roadmap to make the platform more relevant and useful for modern web users.

SharePoint home
Screenshot of the new SharePoint Home

The vision includes new iOS, Android, and Windows Phone apps for SharePoint as well as redesigned SharePoint homepage, modern team sites, and integration with PowerApps and the newly announced Microsoft Flow. Through these apps and site redesigns, SharePoint and OneDrive will be a more powerful platform for sharing and collaborating with coworkers from any device. The updates will also include investments in privacy and security to make SharePoint a trustworthy intranet.

SharePoint Team Site
A look at the new SharePoint Team site on web and mobile.

Here is a look at their roadmap for SharePoint and OneDrive for the current quarter.

  • Access to SharePoint Online document libraries and Office 365 Group files from the OneDrive mobile app.
  • Intelligent discovery of documents from both OneDrive and SharePoint.
  • Copy from OneDrive to SharePoint in the OneDrive web experience.
  • OneDrive Universal Windows Platform (UWP) application.

And here is what you can expect for SharePoint and OneDrive before the end of 2016.

  • Document analytics surfaced in OneDrive to provide insight into document usage, reach and impact.
  • Synchronization of SharePoint Online document libraries with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Synchronization of shared folders with the new OneDrive sync client.
  • Mobile access to SharePoint document libraries in on-premises farms.
  • Move and copy files between OneDrive and SharePoint in web experiences.

The updates and new apps will focus on making sharing from any device not just easier but also more intelligent. This will be achieved with new ways to communicate, ingegration with Office 365 Groups and integration with PowerApps and Microsoft Flow to help automate and organize workflows. The SharePoint team calls this the roadmap for the mobile and intelligent intranet. Here is what you can expect to see in the current quarter:

  • Modern document library experience (currently rolling out to First Release tenants).
  • SharePoint mobile app for iOS.
  • SharePoint home in Office 365.
  • Modern lists experience.
  • Site activity and insights on the Site Contents page.

And here is everything you can expect by the end of the calendar year.

  • SharePoint mobile app for Windows and Android.
  • Integration of SharePoint sites and Office 365 Groups.
  • Simple, fast site creation.
  • Modern pages experience.
  • Team and organizational news and announcements.
  • PowerApps and Microsoft Flow integration with SharePoint.

For the IT pros who will be managing a company’s SharePoint and OneDrive infrastructure, today’s announcement also indicated that File and Site APIs are coming to Microsoft Graph. There will also be security upgrades that let admins have granular access controls and use their own encryption keys.

Today’s announcement shows that Microsoft is invested heavily in making SharePoint and OneDrive an integral part of their mission to reinvent productivity. Satya Nadella himself made a statement about how this roadmap is a part of the company’s overall efforts to make Office 365 “more collaborative, intelligent, mobile, and trustworthy.”

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