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Microsoft Explains How SharePoint Lists Evolved into the New Microsoft Lists, Coming this Summer

Microsoft announced a few SharePoint Online items of note this week.

A big ticket item during the Microsoft Build presentations this week was the announcement of Microsoft Lists. Additionally, the SharePoint Home Sites feature was released to all SharePoint Online tenancies. Lastly, Microsoft announced that it's planning to swap the color theme of SharePoint sites from blue to teal, starting as early as next month.

On that latter item, organizations that have done some customization of their SharePoint sites aren't getting swapped to the teal color scheme in June. However, tenancies that have not customized, or new tenancies, will get the teal theme, which gets turned on for them automatically. There's no blocking mechanism for IT pros to use, but they can change the color scheme, if wanted.

Microsoft Lists
Microsoft Lists is a new Microsoft 365 application that's described by Microsoft officials as "an evolution of SharePoint Lists." It's expected to arrive this summer for Microsoft 365 subscribers.

Microsoft is planning to release Microsoft Lists for SharePoint Online and Microsoft Teams. It'll also be available as an app in the Microsoft 365 Launcher. Additionally, there will be mobile application versions of Microsoft Lists for the Android and iOS platforms.

The mobile apps will arrive around year's end, according to a comment by Mark Kashman, a Microsoft product manager on the SharePoint team, in the comments section of Microsoft's announcement:

We plan to ship a lot of the tech in the summer, and the first updates will land with Targeted Release customers, and then out to worldwide production. One note, the Lists mobile app is planned to land closer to the end of the year.

He added that the "Lists mobile app for iOS planned for later this year; Android a fast follow."

Microsoft isn't replacing SharePoint lists with Microsoft Lists. "We have no plans to deprecate classic lists," Kashman indicated. Instead, SharePoint Online users will just get the benefits of Microsoft Lists, he noted, in a separate announcement.

"Rest assured that all your lists, including lists that you have inside SharePoint sites today, will benefit from all the innovations described here," he wrote.

Microsoft Lists data will get stored in SharePoint, "as they are today for SharePoint lists -- for both personal lists and team lists," Kashman explained.

Microsoft Lists features the ability to use premade templates to structure information, such as templates for business trips, meeting events planning and issue tracking, or a blank list can be created. It's possible to use the formatting from an existing list when creating a new one. It's also possible to use an Excel file for a list.

Users get multiple options with Microsoft Lists. It's possible to format list information from a table format into a card format, for instance. List information can be exported to the Calendar. Microsoft Lists supports writing rules, such as adding if/then conditions to items. For instance, color coding can be used to distinguish items in a list, including automatically changing the color when a task gets completed. It's possible to share lists with others, in whole or in part.

The announcement also touted using Microsoft Lists with other Microsoft business process and coding tools, such as Power Platform capabilities:

Additionally, the value of existing integrations with the Power Platform continue when you need to further customize list forms with Power Apps and design robust workflows with Power Automate. And for developers, the power and value of the Lists API extends custom solutions to connect the list data as a source via Microsoft Graph.

These sorts of capabilities are shown off in this "First Look at Microsoft Lists" video by Miceile Barrett, a Microsoft product manager on the Microsoft Lists team. She, as well as Lincoln DeMaris, a Microsoft principal program manager on the Microsoft Lists team, talk about the product's genesis in this Microsoft podcast.

Lists, Lists and Lists
This month marks the scheduled demise of Wunderlist, the much beloved list app that Microsoft had acquired when it bought 6Wunderkinder back in 2015. The reason for Wunderlist's axing wasn't so clear. Possibly, this direction with Microsoft Lists was the reason.

Microsoft actually has a lot of list-type applications, such as Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Planner, Microsoft To Do and Microsoft Tasks. In response to a question, Kashman described Microsoft Lists being used principally for "work management" and "work tracking."

In contrast, Excel is considered to be an analysis tool. All of Microsoft's other list apps are deemed useful for task management, Kashman explained.

Upcoming SharePoint Announcements
Microsoft's SharePoint announcements may seem to be a little less concentrated this year. One possible reason is that Microsoft shifted its participation in the SharePoint Conference 2020 event, which got pushed out from this month until March 2021. It was the venue Microsoft typically used for announcing its big SharePoint news.

In its place, a couple of upcoming virtual events will include SharePoint talks with possible news. Upcoming will be the Microsoft 365 Virtual Marathon on May 27 and 28. Also coming will be the Galactic Collaboration Summit in early June. Both events will feature Jeff Teper, corporate vice president of Office, SharePoint, OneDrive and Streams, plus other Microsoft luminaries.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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