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SharePoint Online Previews and New Migration Tool Arriving This Month

Microsoft on Wednesday announced previews that are coming to SharePoint Online users, including a new migration tool plus perks for end users.

The new tool, called "SharePoint Migration Tool version 2.0 beta," is currently available for download here. It might seem confusing that Microsoft is now offering a public beta of this tool, since it was described as being commercially released back in January. It seems that Microsoft is floating a new public beta in response to user feedback, according to the announcement.

SharePoint Migration Tool Version 2.0 Beta
The new beta and the current SharePoint Migration Tool (version 1.0) both seem to be designed to work only with SharePoint Server 2013 installations. With it, organizations can shift their operations to SharePoint Online by moving the files in their datacenters to Microsoft's datacenters.

The SharePoint Migration Tool can "support the smallest of migrations to large-scale migrations with support for bulk scenarios," according to Bill Baer, a senior product marketing manager for SharePoint, in the announcement.

Notably, when moving Lists, the SharePoint Migration Tool version 2.0 beta will "create the source site collection or the list for you if it doesn't already exist," Baer indicated. The new beta also now lets IT pros use JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) files to specify what to move in bulk migrations, in addition to the use of comma-separated value (CSV) files for that purpose.

The new tool also has added support for more SharePoint List types. Moreover, external authentication (AuthN) support was expanded to include NTLM, Kerberos, Forms and Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS).

SharePoint Online User Improvements
Another Microsoft announcement described the coming preview of SharePoint Online user interface (UI) improvements. They'll be arriving to Office 365 "targeted release" subscribers (that is, tenancies that get test releases) "throughout the coming weeks." Product delivery worldwide of the new features is expected in May.

With the new UI previews, end users can now create news from their SharePoint home pages. This "Create news post" navigation can be found at the top of the home page. One restriction is that users can only create news "on sites where you are a member."

Another perk for end users is the ability to add news and pages using Microsoft Teams tabs. Microsoft Teams is Microsoft's workspace collaboration service, and now SharePoint content can be publicized there using tabs. "SharePoint is a content service for Microsoft Teams," explained Mark Kashman, a senior product manager for SharePoint.

Additionally, it'll be possible to automatically push SharePoint team news content into Microsoft Teams with the new UI update. It's done by using Connectors. Users right click on a Microsoft Teams channel to access Connectors and then add the SharePoint news.

The new UI preview also will be adding a news digest capability. Users select news articles from a list and then send it via e-mail. The images, text and links used with the news articles get preserved within the Outlook e-mail client.

Lastly, stats will begin to appear at the bottom of each news or page site with feedback information. The stats will show the total number of page views, the number of likes and comments left by readers.

Also coming in the "next couple of weeks" to targeted Office 365 users will be the ability to create custom columns for Communication Sites, according to another Microsoft announcement. Only end users with "SharePoint Online page authoring permissions" will be able to customize columns.

About the Author

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

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