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Microsoft Said To Be Dropping SharePoint Online 'Public Sites' Feature

Microsoft may be planning to drop another SharePoint Online feature.

No announcement from Microsoft has confirmed it, but a blog called "Office 365 Answers" indicated late last month that Microsoft plans to remove the "Office 365 Public Sites" feature from SharePoint Online. The removal will occur via an update scheduled for release in December or in January 2015, according to the blog post.

The Office 365 Answers post, which apparently is independent of Microsoft, cited an unnamed Microsoft source for the information. The post was spotted by veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley, who mentioned it in an article.

Foley could not get confirmation from Microsoft about the purported change to come, however.

Public Sites could be shorthand for the "Public Website" feature in Office 365. The Public Website feature is designed to let small and midsize organizations quickly create Web sites. Microsoft's SharePoint Online service description doesn't list a Public Sites feature.

As Foley noted, Microsoft's official public notification page, called the Office 365 roadmap page, doesn't appear to list product features that are getting deprecated. It was Microsoft MVP and SharePoint expert Vlad Catrinescu who pointed out that Microsoft had deprecated SharePoint Online's Notes and Tags features, with the Tasks and Sync to Outlook features going away next year. Catrinescu found those changes mentioned in two fairly obscure Microsoft support articles.

Microsoft's policy for its Online Services is to give a year's notice to organizations of any "disruptive change" in the service (except for CRM Online customers, who get a six-month notice). Possibly, that may mean that no public notice will be given except through each customer's Office 365 Message Center, but it's not explicitly stated as such by Microsoft in the policy. The Message Center is a portal for the IT pros who manage the Office 365 services.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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