Bekker's Blog

Blog archive

TechMentor Keynote: Major Enhancements Coming to OneDrive

If you've turned away from OneDrive or stopped paying attention to Microsoft's file hosting service, it may be time to take another look.

Stephen Rose, senior product manager for OneDrive for Business, provided an update on the service's roadmap during the main keynote at the TechMentor conference (pictured above), being held this week at Microsoft's campus in Redmond, Wash. The TechMentor conference is hosted by's parent company, 1105 Media Inc.

Rose, a longtime veteran of Microsoft who has also held roles on the Windows client team, made the case for how central OneDrive has become within the Microsoft productivity and collaboration stack.

"We look at [OneDrive] as the place to share and work with all of your files. It is the backbone for SharePoint, for Office, for Teams, for Stream, for all of those apps as the way to integrate and move," Rose said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, he said that organizations that went with Box or Dropbox over the last few years might be surprised at the pace of improvement in OneDrive, which has come a long way from a time when it was still based on the Groove.exe client, lacked external sharing and didn't support previewers. He highlighted recent customer successes at Rackspace and MGM Resorts International, which are both leveraging Microsoft product stack synergies to save money or upgrade capabilities.

Rose spent most of his talk going point by point through significant updates that are in process for OneDrive. He briefly covered about a dozen enhancements since last year, including Secure Internal Sharing, Mac Office Sync Integration, Hover Card, Files Restore, Hold Your Own Key, Copy/Move from OneDrive to SharePoint, GDPR compliance, and support for more than 320 file previewers. Then he moved on to detail more than a dozen new features of OneDrive that are currently rolling out or will arrive in the next few weeks. "There's nothing I'm talking about here that's going to land later than September," he promised.

Among new features that Rose listed as either generally available or in the process of rolling out to current users were Known Folder Move, Camera Upload, Customization of Sharing Emails and Transfer Ownership.

Rose spent the most time on Known Folder Move, or KFM, which is a major component in Microsoft's strategy for helping IT back up and restore or migrate end users' desktops.

"With the [Known Folder Move] update, what you'll see is a new tab called Auto Save," Rose said. If IT enables it, end users can go in and start the process themselves, or IT departments can use a Group Policy Object (GPO) to push out a request that end users protect their folders. Either way, KFM creates the Desktop, Pictures and Documents folders in the cloud and synchronizes the users' content in both places. Users can continue to work while the content synchronizes.

Microsoft has already pushed KFM to all managed devices for users with less than 10GB of total files, which Rose said was about 30 percent of users. "We're going to open it up to everybody by the end of September," he said. One wrinkle is Microsoft enthusiasts with both business and consumer OneDrive accounts can't double up their synchronization. "If IT has said you do this for OneDrive for Business, you're not going to be able to do it for Consumer because you don't have two separate desktops and two separate photos, and it would create a lot of confusion," he explained.

The other new features that Rose discussed that were in various phases of general availability or some sort of phased rollout included the following:

  • Camera Upload allows a user to pick a business account for a camera upload from a smartphone. In addition to more storage room and Office integration, the feature allows companies to store and own pictures that are company property, rather than relying on users to manage the images in their personal device photo collection. Microsoft has also added support for SD cards in Android.
  • Customization of Sharing Emails is a benefit for customers with E1, E3 and E5 plans. They can display their tenant logo when sharing through OneDrive.
  • Transfer Ownership is a feature for when an employee leaves the company or their current role. Rather than having the employee's OneDrive files go to their supervisor, organizations can now choose delegates. The feature has also been introduced for SharePoint and Exchange.

Among the features Rose highlighted that aren't publicly available yet but are coming in the next two months, several significantly advance OneDrive capabilities.

Users will get more control over securely sharing files externally. "We've had some requests because the external sharing with the password protection is great, but we've had some folks saying I want to be able to set my own password when I'm sharing something externally," Rose said. A feature called Password Protected Links will allow an end user to pick a password and share it via instant message, text or by phone. Another feature called Block Download, which can be turned on by an administrator, can allow the user to prevent the person their sharing the file with from downloading or printing the file.

Administrators and managers will be able to audit the external sharing trail, as well, with a feature called External Sharing Reports. Running the report shows everything that's been shared externally, who shared it, what the rights were and what the access was.

The OneDrive team is working with the Microsoft Intune team on a set of Intune policies, so that administrators can conduct administration on OneDrive through that management tool rather than through GPOs, if they choose.

Additional work is being done to make the sharing user experience through OneDrive Mobile more exactly match the experience on the desktop, the Web and the Mac.

A new scan experience leveraging the Microsoft Office Lens tool is being added to allow for better scanning and being integrated with Flow for processes, such as connecting receipts to expense approvals.

Posted by Scott Bekker on 08/08/2018 at 3:45 PM


comments powered by Disqus

Subscribe on YouTube