Posey's Tips & Tricks
First Look: Office 365 Video
Enterprises looking for an alternative to YouTube for sharing videos will find much to like with Office 365's offering.
I have to confess that I am something of a YouTube junkie. There are a few different channels that I like to peek in on, and I've got tons of videos on my own channel. Those videos are mostly home movies from my spaceflight training and from my adventures around the world. Most of those videos are public even though they are personal in nature. Recently, however, there have been a few videos that I have had to make private for various reasons. That got me thinking about an organization that I dealt with a while back that had established a communal YouTube account for its employees and had set up a private channel to be used for video sharing within the company. Even though this approach works, there is a better way.
If you need to create a video channel for use by employees within your organization, you can actually do so from inside Office 365. I'm not talking about building a custom SharePoint site or anything like that. Office 365 natively supports video sharing.
You can access Office 365 video sharing by logging into Office 365, clicking the My Apps tile (located on the Administrative Dashboard) and then clicking on the Video tile.
The first time that you go into Office 365 Video, it will take a few minutes for Office 365 to set up the Video application. Once this process completes, you will see a simple prompt asking you if you want to browse channels or if you want to create a channel. If this is your first use, you will of course need to create a channel.
When you choose the Create a Channel option, you will be prompted to give your channel a name and to pick a channel color. Upon doing so, click the Create button and your new channel will be created. It's that easy.
Once the new channel has been created, you can click on the channel to access it. Once you are in the channel you can upload videos or you can access the channel settings. Of the channel settings, the most important are the permissions.
The Permissions tab allows you to designate owners, editors and viewers for the channel. Remember, Office 365 lets you create multiple channels and you can set permissions on a per-channel basis. By default, the owner is the person who created the channel. There are no editors listed by default, and Viewers is set to everyone except for external users. You can of course add and remove permissions according to your needs. In case you are wondering, it is possible to grant viewer permissions to external users.
Office 365 makes it simple to upload a video. The upload procedure is nearly identical to what YouTube uses. Like YouTube, it also takes a bit of time for Office 365 to process a video before the video is available for viewing. The actual time requirement probably varies depending on the video format, the video resolution and on how busy the servers are. I recently uploaded a six and a half minute video that was filmed in 1920x1080 resolution and it took about half an hour for Office 365 to make the video available for viewing.
As your Office 365 channel begins to accumulate videos, the channel screen will dynamically update to show thumbnails of the videos that are currently trending. This is very similar to the way that YouTube's home page shows links for the latest viral videos.
If you prefer that the channel's home screen have a more predictable look you can accomplish that too. All you have to do is to go into the Channel Settings and then click on the Spotlight tab. The Spotlight tab allows you to select up to five videos that will be displayed on the channel's home screen. A thumbnail for one of the videos that you select will be displayed in a large format, while the thumbnails for the other videos that you select are shown in a slightly smaller format. As such, you can place an emphasis on one particular video and a slightly lower emphasis on up to four more videos.
Personally, I think that Microsoft has done a really good job on Office 365 videos. The interface is really clean and super simple to use. It is so easy to use, in fact, that you can create a new channel and begin uploading videos in a matter of minutes.
Brien Posey is a 22-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.