SharePoint Online and OneDrive Getting Multiple Improvements This Month
Microsoft announced a number of SharePoint Online and OneDrive improvements this month.
The improvements included a number of items specific for IT pros with regard to managing security, storage limits and site migrations. They also included SharePoint business application improvements and mobile client user interface perks.
The details spilled out even as Microsoft is preparing to describe its big-ticket items at this month's SharePoint Conference event, which will kick off on May 21.
Conditional Access for Unmanaged Devices
Microsoft announced on Tuesday that its conditional access scheme for protecting OneDrive or SharePoint Online content accessed by unmanaged devices has reached "general availability," meaning it's deemed ready for use in production environments. This capability, which is dependent on using Azure Active Directory Conditional Access, allows IT pros to set policies controlling content and site access.
The legal department might have different access restrictions from the rest of the organization, for instance, and with the new capability, IT pros can add the specific controls through policies. When specified, a policy can have the following effects, according to the announcement:
- Blocks users from accessing sites or the tenant from unmanaged devices
- Allows users to preview only Office file types in the browser
- Allows Office file types to be editable or read-only in the previewer
- Based on the sensitivity of a site's contents, admins can now set access control from unmanaged devices on different sites to be full access, limited access, or block access
IT pros configure these policies for unmanaged devices using the SharePoint Online Management Shell.
OneDrive Files Restore and Windows Defender
On Monday, Microsoft announced that it has integrated the OneDrive Files Restore feature into Windows Defender, Microsoft's anti-malware solution for Windows 10. This integrated solution will add automatic protections against ransomware for OneDrive-stored files. The capability will be available for Office 365 Home and Office 365 Personal subscribers, but it's also available for OneDrive for Business users. It will be available to "all Windows 10 April 2018 Update users in the coming weeks," the announcement clarified.
Users of this feature get notified of a ransomware threat and are given the option to restore files to a state prior to the attack. The restore feature is easy to use because "the date and the time that Windows Defender detected the attack will be preselected in Files Restore," Microsoft explained.
Microsoft also announced on Tuesday that OneDrive now supports more than 300 file types with its new file viewer improvements. For those using the Files On-Demand feature in Windows 10, which gives users thumbnail images of files stored on OneDrive when they are offline, these supported file types will show the file's contents. For instance, they can see an Adobe Illustrator drawing or an Adobe Photoshop image in their browser without having those applications installed.
SharePoint Online Storage Increase
Microsoft announced last week that SharePoint Online storage will be increasing on the user side. Currently, tenancies are allocated 1TB of storage, with users getting 0.5GB of storage. On July 1, 2018, Microsoft plans to increase the per-user allocation to 10GB of storage. However, organizations using SharePoint Online kiosk plans, such as "Office 365 F1 and Microsoft 365 F1" plans, aren't getting the storage increase.
An organization's total tenancy storage allocation will grow with this change, depending on the number of users licensed. For instance, an organization with 100 users will have 1TB (100 × 10GB) of storage for all of the users, plus 1TB of storage available for the tenancy, for a total of 2TB.
Team Site Migrations to Groups
Microsoft also announced progress on support for moving SharePoint Online "classic" Team Sites to Office 365 Groups. There's now an API and a PowerShell cmdlet rolling out to tenancies for the purpose, which can be used by "tenant and global administrators." Those tools represent the first phase of support. Later this month, Microsoft plans to provide the ability to move classic Team Sites to Office 365 Groups via a graphical user interface (GUI) using "the Settings menu in classic team sites," Microsoft explained in a Monday announcement. The GUI will be available by default to "site collection administrators."
Microsoft recommends running its SharePoint Modernization Scanner tool before trying to move classic Team Sites to Office 365 Groups. It'll prepare the sites for the move.
InfoPath Forms Conversion
Microsoft announced more than a year ago that PowerApps and Microsoft Flow "are the successors to InfoPath and SharePoint Designer for many common business scenarios, especially custom forms used on SharePoint lists." Those InfoPath and SharePoint Designer 2013-branded products, though, are still being kept around to support SharePoint Server 2019. Still, the writing is on the wall. Microsoft wants SharePoint developers to switch to PowerApps and Flow.
This month, Microsoft announced that it is adding resources to the SharePoint Business Apps Resource Center to help InfoPath users move to using PowerApps forms for SharePoint Lists and Libraries. So far, it has added a template for creating a "PowerApps-based Help Desk app" and a template for creating a "PowerApps-based Expenses Report."
For SharePoint developers still warming up to Microsoft's so-called "no code" PowerApps and Flow tools, there's a new "Intrazone" podcast available this week featuring SharePoint luminaries and partners discussing the tools.
SharePoint Business Apps Improvements
Microsoft's shorthand phrase for PowerApps and Flow appears to be "SharePoint business apps," and they both got some improvements this month, according to a Tuesday Microsoft announcement. A couple of SharePoint business apps reached "general availability" this month, namely:
The latter item, Microsoft Forms, which previewed almost a year ago, is just considered to be a lightweight tool for creating quizzes and surveys. It's not deemed to be a replacement for InfoPath or PowerApps.
There were a few other improvements of note this month. For instance, SharePoint Lists and Libraries now have PowerApps and Flow buttons to launch those tools. It's also now possible to build and launch custom Flows from OneDrive's Web interface, in addition to doing that from SharePoint Libraries. Microsoft also added the ability to build a custom approval process for a Flow that's designed to work with SharePoint Lists or Libraries.
Other SharePoint business apps features are said to be "rolling out now." Among the list is the ability to set custom column widths for each SharePoint user. A Flow now can be triggered when an item is deleted. Microsoft also created a new PowerApps Web Part for SharePoint Online users. It'll be arriving as a preview sometime this month.
For the full list of these coming features, see Microsoft's Tuesday announcement on the SharePoint business apps.
SharePoint Mobile App Improvements
Last month, Microsoft announced some improvements to the SharePoint Mobile App that were expected to arrive in an app update in "late April." The SharePoint Mobile App now provides access to SharePoint Online Hub Sites, which is Microsoft's new way of organizing Team Sites and Communication Sites. Hub Sites are expected to be available worldwide in early May.
Microsoft also indicated that the updated SharePoint Mobile App is now capable of displaying the layout of a "group-connected Team Site" as it was originally designed, even though it fits on a small screen. The appearance is consistent between Web and mobile now, Microsoft indicated.
For Android devices, Microsoft put the "News, Sites, Links, People and Me" navigation tabs at the bottom of the device's screen for easier thumb access.
Lastly, SharePoint content authors now get a "mobile push notification" in the SharePoint Mobile App when someone makes a comment about a page that was added.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.