The new SharePoint Online, available with Office 365, includes a wide variety of improvements and new features. Discover how SharePoint Online can help you share your work and work with others, organize your projects and teams and discover people and information.
Note If this information doesn’t match what you’re seeing, you may be using Office 365 pre-upgrade and the features mentioned here will become available after the service upgrade. Am I using Office 365 after the service upgrade?
In this article
SharePoint Online is now been reorganized into three distinct hubs: Newsfeed, SkyDrive, and Sites. These hubs are available in a global navigation bar, and thus the social features associated with My Sites are fully integrated into the SharePoint experience. You no longer need to specifically visit your My Site in a web browser to access social features.
Create and view posts and updates in your Newsfeed
You can post to the public newsfeed at any time, post to a newsfeed on a team site you’re following, or see updates about other people’s activities. Note that you create posts or start “conversations” in the new microblog feature described in the next section. Select options in the Newsfeed to sort information as follows:
- “Following” shows you updates related to things you’re currently following: people, documents, sites, and tags.
- “Everyone” shows conversations started by people in your organization, and may include posts created by people you’re currently following.
- “Mentions” shows posts in which you are mentioned.
- “Activities” shows a feed of your current activities, just as it appears on your “About me” page.
- “Likes” shows all items you have “liked.”
The Newsfeed page provides quick access to the lists of people, documents, sites, and tags you’re following. Note the following details about these lists:
- In the list of people you’re following, you can optionally view a list of people following you.
- Click a callout icon for any person to see their current newsfeed and a link to their profile.
- Get updates in your newsfeed when any person you’re following starts following another person, document, site, or tag. You can optionally receive an email notification about these activities.
- Tags correspond to the list of interests you’ve added to your user profile.
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New microblogging features
If you’re familiar with popular social networking sites, you’ll feel right at home using the new microblogging features, which allow you to engage in conversations in your Newsfeed.
With microblogging, you can:
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SharePoint Newsfeed App
A SharePoint Newsfeed app lets you use your SharePoint newsfeed from your Windows Phone, iPhone, or iPad. You can see updates to all the newsfeeds you’re following, post messages, and start following people, documents, sites, and tags.
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More ways to share documents or sites
This release provides more options for sharing documents and sites:
- You can now store personal documents in a single, personal library, accessible from anywhere — your SkyDrive Pro. This takes the place of sorting documents into either “Shared Documents” or “Private Documents.” All documents in the library are initially private until you decide to share them.
- Use the new Share command to quickly share documents or sites. You can invite people to share specific documents and control what they can do with them (read, write, and so on). You can also use the Share control to:
- Send a guest link to the document for people outside your organization or for those without login credentials. Share a document or site with a select group of people through a "selective people" link. Quickly find out who’s sharing a document or site.
- Send a personalized email invitation when you share a document or site.
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Features for maintaining user profiles
User profiles in SharePoint Online are similar to those in earlier releases, with the following notable improvements:
- Navigation is streamlined so that you can more easily switch between different areas of your profile, and the profiles of other people when you visit them.
- Sharing options for all fields are now simplified to include “Everyone” or “Only Me.”
- Newsfeed settings (“Activities I want to share” and “People I follow”) are turned off by default for privacy reasons. You must manually turn on the activities you want to share. However, conversations and email notifications are turned on by default.
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Collaborate with external users
You can now invite people outside of your company, such as vendors, trusted business partners, and customers to view, share and work with content on your sites.
- External sharing is turned on by default. Individual site collection administrators or site owners can optionally share their sites or documents externally.
- External users sign in to the service by using a Windows Account or a Microsoft Office 365 user ID.
- In addition to enabling or disabling external sharing, SharePoint Online administrators can remove existing guests from external sharing.
To learn more about how to use external sharing with Office 365 Small Business Premium, see Manage sharing with external users. To learn more about external sharing for Office 365 Enterprise plans, see Manage external sharing for your SharePoint online environment.
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SharePoint Online expands the discussion board concept by introducing Community Sites, which are site collections built using the brand new Community Site template.
Community Sites encourage information sharing across teams and groups within an organization. They promote open communication by making it easy for users to both share their interests and expertise and learn from others with knowledge or experience in specific areas.
Community Sites offer several benefits over email, instant messaging, or other communication methods, including:
- The availability of all Community Site content to all members of the community.
- Full retention of discussion history in compliance with corporate governance guidelines.
- Built-in search, which enables members to search all content in the community.
- Ratings, which enable members to vote on individual posts and replies. Ratings contribute to the reputation of community members.
- An achievement system that rewards members for participation in the community.
- Categorization of content to improve discoverability and simplify maintenance.
- Site maintenance via SharePoint lists, which provide a familiar interface and enable you to take advantage of the rich governance, records management, and workflow integration features of SharePoint.
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A community portal is a directory that lists all community sites available on your company intranet. Through the community portal users can search for, discover, follow, visit, and participate in communities of interest.
For more information about community portals see Create a community portal.
OneNote integration with team sites
Now, when you create a team site, a OneNote shared notebook is automatically created as part of the site. You can use this notebook to capture, compile, and share information.
- The shared notebook inherits the team site's permissions.
- You can embed documents into notebook pages. These embedded documents are automatically stored as separate files in a document library, so you can manage and share them just like other documents you store in SharePoint.
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New ways to work with video and rich media (SharePoint Online Enterprise plans only)
- In addition to displaying a video on a standard page, each video uploaded to a SharePoint site will have its own player page that contains metadata about the video.
- Video sets enable you to manage different renditions of each video that could span different resolutions, encoding formats and slightly modified video content (for example, audio dubbed in different languages). SharePoint manages which encoding is played depending on the capability of your browser and device.
- Embedding of video sources external to SharePoint (like YouTube) is also supported.
- You can preview videos directly from a search results page.
- While performing a regular search, SharePoint recognizes if the user’s query indicates an interest in watching videos based on simple keywords such as “speech,” “talk,” or “video,” and surfaces all the relevant videos to the top in the video intent group.
- While performing a video search, you can refine the video listing based on properties such as video length or when the video was uploaded.
- Each video has its own player page with metadata about the video and its owner, and a list of related documents. For example, if someone is delivering a class lecture that person can upload the PowerPoint presentation used along with the video recording for users to view. The player page also enables the viewer to switch between the available renditions, rate the video, and download the video.
- Both HTML 5 video and Silverlight players are supported.
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Manage documents with the new callout feature
Use the new callout feature with any document in a library to see a set of rich commands and contextual information. Open, share, or follow documents; view a document preview and other information; take action right away from the callout.
Use drag and drop
You can now upload documents, pictures, and other types of files to your site by dragging them from your computer to a library on your site, such as Documents or your SkyDrive Pro library.
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Sync document libraries to your computer using SkyDrive Pro
Use a SkyDrive Pro to synchronize document libraries with folders in your Windows file system. SkyDrive Pro gives you access to your documents when you’re offline and automatically syncs updates to the server when you go back online.
Keep track of important SharePoint sites on your Sites page
Create new team sites quickly on your Sites page. Follow SharePoint sites and see them listed on your Sites page. People following you get an alert when you start following a site. If a site you create has a newsfeed, you can post to this newsfeed from the public newsfeed.
Keep track of your tasks
See a timeline of your current tasks, including tasks assigned to you in SharePoint, and tasks you entered in other applications such as Outlook that are sent to SharePoint via Exchange. Create new tasks and use views to filter tasks. For example, see which tasks are active, completed, or coming due.
Project sites & site mailboxes
Project sites enable people in an organization to effectively collaborate on lightweight projects. Project managers can quickly get a sense of what’s going on in a project, and team members can quickly see how their work fits into the overall context. Project sites also enable teams to access and share relevant data, documents, and communication.
A project site provides the following:
- Project Summary Web Part
- Visual timeline of the project’s tasks
- Project task schedule
- Library for storing relevant project documents
- Notebook for quickly capturing and organizing information about the project
- Shared calendar for team events
- Ability to connect to the Project Server 2013 client application
When SharePoint is connected to Exchange, a project site can also include a site mailbox, for unified communication about the project as it progresses. When a project site is part of a site collection that is associated with Project Server 2013, it can also be used to capture issues, risks, and deliverables. The tasks list on the project site (or on a team site) can be added to Project Web App for more robust project management functionality.
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Enhancements for finding people and expertise
Phonetic search now works in multiple languages. Additionally, along with contact and organizational information, search results now display authored documents and information about past projects that can showcase a person's expertise. Contact cards provide a way to contact people directly from the search results.
Improved navigation helps people to discover the search box quickly, perform a search, and find results that are easily scoped to a site or higher levels. Search results are logically grouped and provide query suggestions based on past results. The hover panel allows people to see additional data about an item in the search results without having to click the item.
Site administrators can create and maintain Search Centers, and can customize the styling and settings that affect search results.
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Interact with workbooks in a browser window
In Office 365 or in SharePoint, you can interact with workbooks in a browser window much like you can by using the Excel client. Use features such as Quick Explore to view the information you want to see in a report. Interact with PowerChart reports, PivotTable, and Power View content without having to open the Excel client. Apply filters and slicers to focus on more specific information.
Store your business intelligence content in a new, improved Business Intelligence Center
A new, streamlined Business Intelligence Center site template is available to help you view and manage your reports, scorecards, and dashboards in a central location.
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Create and edit lists more quickly
You can now create and edit lists right on the page, just as you are used to doing in programs such as Microsoft Excel. For example, just click a link and you can add, edit, or delete columns without leaving the page you’re currently editing. For more information, see Add, edit, or delete list items.
Editing text on sites
There are many improvements to the rich text editor on many types of sites, including blogs and wikis. You can now embed videos, cut and paste from Microsoft Word without losing your formatting, and drag and drop images into the rich text editor.
Choose a new look and theme for any site
The new Choose a Look feature makes it easier to change the look and feel of your site and provides you with more designs to choose from. Just choose a look, a background, a layout, and fonts, and you’re done. For more information, see Customize your team site.
Edit the navigation more easily
Customizing the site navigation is easier now with the new Edit Links option in the navigation. When you click Edit Links, you can add a new link, rename a link, or drag and drop links from the Site Contents page or to new locations in the navigation. For more information, see Customize the navigation on your team site.
Configure sites for mobile devices
Productivity doesn’t have to stop as long as you have an Internet-connected mobile device. Depending on the complexity of your site you can implement SharePoint features that are designed to optimize your mobile viewing experience. If a mobile browser supports HTML 5, your site can display in a contemporary view. You can set alerts to get notified about changes to your site. Device channels facilitate content creation for publishing sites by showing different content on different device channels using the same page and page layout. Finally push notifications for Windows Phones, designed for larger enterprise sites, make sure Windows Phone users receive notifications when certain events occur on a site. For more information, see Configure a SharePoint site for mobile devices and Use a mobile device to work with SharePoint Online sites.
New Design Manager for advanced design or branding
If you need to completely redesign a site from scratch or reuse a previous design of yours, you can use the Design Manager, which lets you modify master pages, page layouts, mobile views, and more. This feature is especially useful for advanced site design and branding to your public-facing website or your internal site collection or portal.
The public website in SharePoint Online includes a new design and new features for customizing the site and individual page. Because the website is built on the SharePoint platform, you now get publishing capabilities, more Web parts, and advanced design options. You can also now disable the public website so that it’s not visible on the Internet. You can do this directly from the website or from the Office 365 administration pages. This is useful when the site is under construction or in rare cases when the website must be taken offline. Enable the public website when you’re ready for it to go back online.
More page editing options
The public website now includes more page editing options. You can edit pages and save them as draft or publish them. You can add and format text and images, embed videos, add Web Parts, and more. It’s easier to change the website title, logo, footer, and other site elements. You can also copy and paste your own cascading style sheet and apply it to the site.
Easily change the look and theme
You can quickly and easily change the look and feel of your entire website by choosing Change the Look. Using this feature, you can browse a catalog of designs, choose the one you like, change the background image and font, and you’re done. The new designs have an entirely new look compared to the previous Office 365 public website.
You can now customize your website navigation directly from the navigation links themselves. A new Edit Links option appears in the navigation. When you click this, you can add a new link, rename a link, drag and drop links to new locations, and so on.
Design Manager for advanced site design
If you want to completely redesign the website from scratch or use a design you already have, you can use the Design Manager. This set of features lets you turn a conventional HTML web page into a SharePoint master page with page layouts, mobile views, cascading style sheets, and more. You can use your own website editor to do the design work before uploading the files to the Design Manager.
Optimize your site for search
SharePoint Online now makes it easy to optimize your site for search so customers can find you on the web. Enter title, keyword, and description metadata while you’re authoring the page, and adjust these properties later as you analyze search results. You can also specify values to be included in your sitemap, which search engines use to discover new pages in your website.
View website usage reports
To see how well your website is performing for your site visitors, you can open site usage reports, or popularity trends, in Microsoft Excel. Use these reports to view the daily or monthly hits and unique users to your website.
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Workflows (SharePoint Online Enterprise plans only)
Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2013 includes major improvements to the experience of designing workflows and modeling more complex business logic and process. The new workflow features enable more advanced, robust no-code solutions. New and improved workflow features include:
- A new workflow architecture
- No sacrifice to existing workflow investments
- More expressive workflows with stages that allow you to model workflows as logically grouped actions
- An improved email editor
For detailed and technical information about using workflows, see Workflow in SharePoint 2013 Resource Center.
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Apps for SharePoint
SharePoint Online now includes support for the development, installation, management, and use of apps. An app is a small-scale, stand-alone application that solves a specific end-user need. End users can discover and download apps from the SharePoint Store, or from their organization's App Catalog. The SharePoint Online admin can use the settings in the SharePoint admin center to manage the App Catalog, get apps from the SharePoint Store, manage licenses for apps purchased from the SharePoint Store, and monitor apps in use. To get started exploring third-party apps, see Buy an app from the SharePoint Store.
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External data access
You can use the following new features when working with external data that has been enabled through the use of Business Connectivity Services and the Secure Store Services. For more details on what’s new in this area, see What's new for Business Connectivity Services in SharePoint 2013.
Add external data to published Visio diagrams
Using Visio 2013, you can link data from an external list to a diagram and its shapes. You can then publish the diagram to a SharePoint document library as an interactive web drawing so users can display the diagram and view the associated external data. There are three ways to link rows of data to shapes in your drawing. You can link rows to existing shapes one at a time, you can link the rows to shapes automatically, or you can create shapes from the data.
General performance improvements
Business Connectivity Services has been redesigned to alleviate performance bottlenecks. In general, data retrieval, paging, filtering, and sorting can be offloaded to the external data source to help reduce memory and processing resources needed by SharePoint products.
Overall, these performance features help speed up the display, refresh, and data operations of the external data on a web page and in any Office product that works with external data.
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Security, site management, and site upgrade
Allow or disallow iFrames
Site collection administrators can tighten security on iFrames by specifying the rights of contributors to insert iFrames onto pages, leveraging a list of domains from which iFrames are accepted, if necessary.
Improved site collection upgrade experience
After your Office 365 tenant has been upgraded to the newest version of O365, site collection administrators can upgrade individual site collections to make new SharePoint features and user interface improvements available.
To prepare for the upgrade:
- Use the site collection health checker Site collection administrators or owners can use the site collection health checker to detect issues with their site collections, then address those issues before upgrading the sites to the new user interface.
- Request an evaluation site collection Before making the switch, take a sneak peek at what a site will look like with the new user interface. The evaluation site collection is a copy of the site—for preview purposes only. Evaluation sites are set to automatically expire and be deleted.
For more information, see Upgrade a site collection.
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Improvements to the SharePoint admin center (SharePoint Online Enterprise and Mid-size plans only)
The SharePoint admin center that is available with SharePoint Online Enterprise and Mid-size Business plans now features an expanded range of administrative tasks that enable administrators to manage features such as:
- Site collections
- InfoPath forms
- User Profiles
- Business Connectivity Services (BCS)
- Managed metadata and the Term Store
- Records Management
- Secure Store
- Apps for SharePoint
- External sharing
- Information Rights Management
- Self-service site creation
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Improved ways to manage external sharing
The experience for managing external sharing and external users has also been improved for SharePoint Online.
In Enterprise plans, the SharePoint Online admin can turn this feature on or off globally for the tenant in the SharePoint admin center. They can also manage external sharing settings for individual site collections from directly within the SharePoint admin center. Admins can optionally use the SharePoint Online Management Shell to perform tasks like bulk removing external users. In the SharePoint Online Small Business plans, the Office 365 admin can turn external sharing on or off and also manage external users from within the Office 365 Service Settings user interface.
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New Recycle Bin
The SharePoint admin center now includes a Recycle Bin. This will allow you to restore accidentally deleted site collections.
SharePoint Online and Project Server integration
SharePoint Online customers can also subscribe to a Project Server add-on. This is different than creating a SharePoint Online site with a Project template, because the subscription creates an entirely new Project Server installation for your use, behind the scenes.
With the subscription, the SharePoint admin center will have a new ribbon button for Project. In addition, new site collections can be created with Project, using the New button in the administration center ribbon. Settings specific to Project, such as which type of permissions model to use for any sites that are created with Project, can be managed via the new Project ribbon button.
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SharePoint Online Management Shell
SharePoint Online Administrators can now use Windows PowerShell to manage their subscription. SharePoint Online Administrators can connect to SharePoint Online from a client machine and remotely perform tasks such as site creation, evaluation for site upgrade, site upgrade, adding and removing SharePoint users and groups, site repair, and recycle bin management. These kinds of management tasks can be scripted and automated with Windows PowerShell. For more information, see Introduction to the SharePoint Online Management Shell.
SharePoint Online HTTPS for Small Business
Office 365 for Small Business customers now have secure access to their SharePoint Online sites using the HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) protocol. HTTPS ensures the secure transmission of documents on the Internet and from client to server systems. This applies to the Team Site, SkyDrive Pro, and the Public Website while authoring and designing pages. HTTPS is also used when accessing your email, calendar, and Office 365 administrative pages.
Information rights management
Information Rights Management (IRM) encrypts files downloaded from SharePoint Online and limits the set of users and programs that are allowed to decrypt these files. IRM can also limit the rights of the users who are allowed to read files.
- Set up IRM for SharePoint Online
By default, Rights Management is disabled when an organization signs up with Office 365. The SharePoint Online administrator must set up IRM using Windows Azure Active Directory Rights Management Services (RMS), an information protection technology in Office 365. IRM protection is applied to files at the SharePoint list and library level.
- Apply IRM to list or libraryAfter the SharePoint Online administrator sets up the RMS service, you can apply IRM to a SharePoint list or library to help control and protect files that are downloaded from SharePoint Online.
- IRM-protect PDF files
You can upload PDF documents to IRM-protected libraries, and upon download, the files will be protected using Microsoft Office IRM.
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eDiscovery and case management (SharePoint Online Enterprise plans only)
The eDiscovery Center site template creates a portal through which you can access cases involving eDiscovery (electronic discovery) requests. You can place content on hold (during litigation or investigations, for example), conduct queries, and export content. Your SharePoint Online administrator can create an eDiscovery Center site collection and grant permission to users who can create and work on their own eDiscovery Case sites. Each case is a collaboration site that includes a document library that you can use to store documents related to the management of the case. For information about working with cases, see Plan and manage eDiscovery cases
In addition, you can associate the following things with each case in the eDiscovery Center:
- Sources: Exchange mailboxes crawled file shares, or SharePoint sites.
- Queries: The search criteria, such as author, date range, and free-text terms, as well as the scope of the search. Queries are used to identify content to export.
- eDiscovery sets: Combinations of sources, queries, and whether or not to preserve content. eDiscovery sets are used to identify and preserve content.
- Exports: A location to download exports of content.
When there is a new need for electronic discovery — for example, a legal case or an audit — a user with the appropriate permission can create a new case, add sources of information to be searched, create queries to identify the specific material to be located, and then execute the queries. The user can then preserve the sites and mailboxes in which content was discovered, retain the items that matched the queries, and export the items. When the case is closed, all of the holds associated with the case are released. For information about eDiscovery queries, see Create and run eDiscovery queries
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Preservation of content (SharePoint Online Enterprise plans only)
Content that is placed on hold is preserved, but users can continue to work on it. The state of the content at the time of preservation is recorded. If a user modifies the content or even deletes it, the item is retained at the time of deletion and the original, preserved version is still available. For information about placing content on hold, see Place content sources on hold and add content to an eDiscovery case.
Preserving content is similar to placing it on hold, with the following enhancements:
- SharePoint sites and Exchange mailboxes can be preserved which, in turn, protects the documents, list items, pages and mail items that belong to those sites and mailboxes.
- Preservation is done at the level of a site. Preserving a site preserves the contents of the site.
- Users can continue to work with content that is preserved. The content remains in the same location, and users can edit, delete, and add new content.
- A user with the permission to perform eDiscovery can access the original version of preserved content.
You do not have to preserve an entire site or mailbox. You can specify a query to define the preservation scope, and preserve only the content that matches the query.