Archives / 2015 / October
  • What's new on the Office Roadmap - 2015-10-20

    Tags: Office 365

    Almost a month has passed since we had the last update on the Office Roadmap and quite a lot of things has happened. There are some new things this time and also some clean up of the items. Make sure you read through the In Development section, there are some hidden gems as well as the stuff that has disappeared!!

    Changes 2015-10-20

    Now Launched

    • Automatic Relationship Detection: Make it easier to detect relations between two models with no relationships configured
    • Automatic Time Grouping: All these new Power* are rolling out now.
    • Background Intelligent Transfer Service (BITS) integration for Click-to-Run: A great update to optimize network traffic for C2R. New.
    • Click-to-Run manageability gaps addressed for IT pros: More of the Office 2016 updates to optimize C2R is now "officially" launched.
    • Configurable push notifications for Office 365 Admin app: What no Apple Watch integration yet?
    • Custom Tiles: A fantastic idea but worst implementation ever. Yes, you can create custom Tiles for the App Launcher - but each and every user needs to manually pin it to their App Launcher #fail
    • Deferred Updates: Only allow monthly security updates and defer feature upgrades
    • ExpressRoute for Office 365: Improve the SLA of your network connection to Office 365 by having a dedicated route for your traffic
    • Improved sync slider and lean storage footprint on small devices in Outlook 2016: Sync slider, just the name of it sounds cool.
    • Keyboard access for Pivot Tables and Slicers in Excel: You can now use the keyboard with pivot tables and slicers in Excel!
    • Keyword & People search suggestions in Outlook 2016: Better search in Outlook 2016.
    • Mark emails as Clutter in Outlook 2016: Directly tag e-mails as Clutter from Outlook 2016, if your inbox has Clutter enabled.
    • Modern Attachments in Outlook 2016: Best productivity feature in the Office 2016 suite
    • New and Modern Charts: Modern charts, such as Waterfall…
    • New Office 365 Admin Center Preview: Interesting. This preview is said to be launched - that is ON ALL TENANTS - but I have yet not seen it on any of mine. Mayhaps one of the US only things.
    • Office 365 Help Pane: I really like the "What's new" thing. Keeps you and your users up to date with changes.
    • Office 365 Notification Pane: Notifications everywhere in Office 365 - now if only we had an API for this.
    • OLAP Connection Support in Power View: OLAP and PowerView - a wet dream for the BI people
    • Organization support card: Get your helpdesk details into the Office 365 Help pane. Really great feature.
    • PivotTable Field Search: Can't get enough of these PivotTable and BI stuff…
    • Producer controls for Skype Meeting Broadcast: A surprise to me. Is this really launched?
    • Purchase & Subscriptions Experience Refresh: I've said it before, the refresh is not as fresh as you want, specifically it is not very user friendly
    • Real-time Co-authoring in Skype for Business: co-author like a champ!
    • Search Refiners in Outlook Web App: Not only better search in the Outlook 2016 client but also in Outlook on the web.
    • Skype for Business for iOS: I've seen people cheer in joy for this!
    • Smart Rename in Power Pivot: Rename stuff smart…
    • Subscription Management Experience refresh: A good and intuitive UI
    • Support for small screen portrait layouts in Outlook 2016: Great update for all you Windows 10 7" screen users
    • Top teacher-requested features added to OneNote Class Notebooks: I have not tried the OneNote class things, but I'm sure this is really awesome!
    • Video Based Screen Sharing: P2P sharing of video content

    Rolling out

    • Advanced administrative controls for archiving: Support for SEC 17a-4 record retention (new)
    • Android: Android for Work compliance with multi profile support: support for Android for Work (don't know what this is, but I bet it's useful) (new)
    • Android: Android M Enterprise compliance: More Android stuff (new)
    • Android: Easy Sign-in, Sign-up: Never a bad idea to make things easy, especially when it comes to the Android platform (new)
    • Android: Presenter view: Present your deck from your Droid (new)
    • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) in SharePoint Online: This has been in the works for a long time, now finally rolling out.
    • DLP in SharePoint - Policy Management: Public preview targeted for September 2015
    • Optimized file picker in Outlook on the web: A smarter file picker that allows you to automate steps when saving attachments
    • Task Notifications in Project Online: Project Online gets task notifications and daily digests
    • Unique Project IDs in Project Online: Auto generated unique and readable Project IDs (new)

    In Development

    • Android: Deeper Integration with Outlook: quick edit of e-mail attachments (new)
    • Events from email: This one sounds interesting, also it points to a link: http://tba. Basically events sent to your inbox is automagically dropped (shown?) into the calendar
    • FastTrack | Skype for Business Onboarding Expansion: Back on the list, was dropped a couple of weeks ago
    • FastTrack | Adoption planning assistance: Also back on the list
    • FastTrack | Azure Rights Management Onboarding: Another come back
    • FastTrack | Project Online Onboarding: I guess someone fat fingered the roadmap a couple of weeks back
    • Group Updates feed and Direct Messages for Yammer mobile apps: Updates to the mobile apps. Android and iOS only. Looks like features that are already available in the web version…Nothing new just a modification of a previous entry, move on… 
    • Improved image attachment viewing in Outlook on the web: Big thumbnails and side by side viewing (new)
    • Inline OneDrive attachment preview for Outlook on the web: The OneDrive and OWA integration is just getting better. Do people bother about the thick clients anymore? (new)
    • Korean language support: Congrats to all Koreans, on November 2015 you can use Office on a Mac in your native language (new)
    • Lync Room Systems User Experience Update to Skype for Business: "In November 2015, all Lync Room System software will be updated to the Skype Meeting experience of Skype for Business"
    • Office 365 custom themes update: An important feature in Office 365 and we're getting some improvements to it. As it looks by the description it is more focused on how the end-users can configure their theme, not the corporate theme, unfortunately. (new)
    • Office 365 help pane updates: Tell Me integration in the help pane (new)
    • Office 365 My Account updates:  The new My Account page is great, and actually already rolling out (new).
    • Open OpenDocument files: Support for ODF in Office for Mac (new)
    • Outlook for Android opens IRM protected emails: IRM mails in Android. (new)
    • Quick Access Toolbar customization: The ability to modify the Quick Access Toolbar in Office - I though you already could do that? Is this a Mac thing or a WAC/OOS thing or a Office mobile thing? (new)
    • Ribbon extensibility: Extend the Ribbon on Office for Mac (new)
    • Sway * embed support: Allows you to embed documents and videos from SharePoint Online in Sway (new)
    • Sway admin controls over Insert tab content sources: Governance is coming to Sway - it might actually be enterprise ready one day. (new)
    • Sway author analytics: Who doesn't want to see stats. "Your Sway had 1 view". (new)
    • Sway copy/paste Cards: Shuffle them Sway Cards (new)
    • Sway for Windows Document Import: Easily create Sways from existing PDFs or Word documents (new)
    • Sway in new Azure datacenters: This is a significant milestone for Sway. Sway will be enabled in other data center than in US. So now customers can actually use it. (new)
    • Sway in Service Health Dashboard: Check the Health of Sway in the admin portal (new)
    • Sway onboarded to Office 365 Auditing for Office 365 protection center: We're going for Enterprise grade with Sway. Now, we just need to figure out what to use it for? (new)
    • Sway recycle bin: Ever thrown your Sway away? Well, now you never get rid of it! (new)
    • Sway sharing with specific people: Longing for a private Sway party? Wait no more (new)
    • Sway supports videos via upload and OneDrive for Business for Office 365 work/school accounts: Video upload support in Sway.(new)
    • Sway will add SharePoint to Insert tab: SharePoint stuff can be inserted into Sway (new)
    • Sway: Office 365 work/school accounts can publish Sways to I love…to publish PowerPoints. (new)
    • Yammer to use Azure Media Services for Video Encoding: And last but not least a Yammer update….yawn….

    Things no longer on the list

    • Azure AD Sync for Yammer:  this one has disappeared from the list totally, was previously Launched

    Moved into the Previously Released list

    • About Me Update and New Authoring Tool
    • Compliance search
    • Cortana & Office 365 Productivity Scenarios
    • Major update to Outlook Web App
    • Manage Yammer User Lifecycle in Office 365 (aka: AzureAD sync for Yammer)
    • New Intune capabilities for Outlook on iOS and Android
    • OAuth and MFA for Outlook for iOS & Android
    • Office 365 Admin app updates
    • Office 365 Admin App Updates for June
    • Office 365 Admin Center June Updates
    • Office 365 Groups: Power BI integration
    • Office 365 Setup Enhancements
    • Office 365 Setup Wizard
    • Office 365 Store
    • Office Online Edit in Yammer
    • Public Folders: adding and removing favorites in OWA
    • Save to OneDrive for Business
    • Search Suggestions in Outlook Web App
    • Weather Bar in Outlook Web App
    • Yammer Private Content Mode (this is a funny one, it's brand new on the list but already moved into the previously released ones. Yammer!)

  • Has Yammer played out its role?

    Tags: Yammer, Office 365

    And is Yammer dead?

    It is now three and a half years since Microsoft acquired Yammer and I think this is the end of Yammer, as a product/service. Let me explain myself, to avoid the flame war and hate mails that happened when I shared that my thoughts in the  Team Sites are dead post.

    I think Yammer as a brand will stay for a while, it's a strong brand and it's worked into so many PowerPoint decks from Microsoft that it would be hard to wash that away. But as a product or service Yammer is no longer of interest. I claim this due to a number of facts and observations over the last few years. People who follow me on social media cannot have avoided how I've been pretty aggressive in my comments about this product and I'm by no means alone.

    Dead end

    Here are some things that I think points very clear what is happening with Yammer.

    Yammer shut down its UserVoice channel: A couple of days ago Yammer out of the blue took down their UserVoice channel pointing to a custom feedback resource, that you have to register to get in to. This goes in the total opposite direction of what the rest of the Office teams are doing. And this on an area where Yammer actually was successful previously.

    Lack of integration: As I said it has gone three and a half years since Microsoft started working on integrating Yammer with Office 365. And what has happened since then. NOTHING! Nothing at all.  They haven't fixed the identity integration with Office 365. You need to maintain another profile in Yammer - not so much enterprisey.  Sign in is a pain - if you choose ADFS single sign on then you don't have for instance the suite bar - which means that this is really standalone. If you choose O365 sign on then you have a separate password.
    Also just recently the Yammer service moved into the Azure data centers, but still only in North America.
    The list goes on. Microsoft/Yammer has failed miserably on this topic.

    Enterprise Social Networks: Enterprise Social Networks (ESN) is on a decline in my opinion (I don't have any figures to back that with!). And what I mean with that is a standalone ESN is not interesting in the same way as before. There are some up comers, such as Slack, that does some really cool things but I think that audience is more narrow and I doubt Slack would work on some of the organizations that I work with. Generally thinking standalone ESN is a time waster, people and companies want to be efficient, so integration with other products is essential. Let's come back to this. Yammer is as much standalone as it can be, despite the Microsoft marketing stating it's a part of the Office suite.

    All the former Yammer leaders are gone: As far as I know, all the Yammer brains are gone. I remember SharePoint Conference in Las Vegas many years ago where they made a big deal of Adam Pisoni and his team at Yammer. That was the only and last time I saw them….

    Yammer constantly not listening at all, relying just on telemetry: I have had issues with Yammer since day one, issues that are bugs, feedback, not documented changes (dare I mention their APIs!) and I have tried getting in contact with the teams to give my feedback. It's been like talking to a brick wall! Basically any other team at Microsoft I can get in contact with if I need to, ranging from the Office teams, to the Windows teams and even CTOs has been taking my feedback and answering my questions. The only answer is when you have an issue with Yammer or give feedback is that - "we can't see that in out telemetry so then the users are not interested in that". If it's one answer I dislike, then it is that one. It becomes really comical when it comes to the "Mark all as read" function, that I think everyone using Yammer wants. But since that feature does not exist, they can't see it in their telemetry which in the Yammer world means that no one wants it. Duh!

    Lack of innovation: Three and a half years! Can anyone give me any new major feature in Yammer since the acquisition? Well, the Apple Watch App doesn't count. No, there has been no development what so ever on this product, except for some failed A/B testing attempts. Competitors is running in circles around Yammer. Sporadically we see Yammer stuff on the Office Roadmap, but almost always after they are released - just another sign that the Yammer team is not integrated with the Office team or have a different agenda!

    I probably missed a ton of other things, but this should make my point…

    So what is Microsoft doing and what should they be doing?

    Office 365 Groups and the Office 365 core services

    No surprise to those who follow me that Office 365 Groups should be in here. But this is important! I said lack of innovation, lack of integration, ESN is dead etc. with Yammer. All this has happened with Office 365 Groups, where I see a lot of good things grow!.

    First of all Office 365 Groups is integrating with the Office 365 service bringing the major key components together making it easy for users to collaborate, communicate, share and work together. Groups are bringing Exchange, SharePoint, Project and social networking together (could be under a Yammer brand) into one experience. This give Office 365 a unique experience compared to other competitors. With Yammer in the mix, it's a separate service, profile, user experience etc.

    Innovation! The innovation are taking place within the core Office 365 services. Take a look at the new Praise feature (directly stolen from Yammer) that now lives within Office Delve - where it should be. Take a look at the new Like feature that allows you to like e-mail messages - no more +1 e-mail messages. The same goes for the @mentions in the Outlook inbox. The majority of the social collaboration goes on in your inbox, why not let these features live here. I think this is a bold and good move.

    Actually I see the enterprise social pieces of this as an Enterprise Social Fabric that is tightly integrated with all the different core services and apps in Office 365. Not as a standalone service or product! And Yammer is not built for that.

    And for all this good things the Office 365 team also builds API's for use to use, in the new Office 365 Unified API. Something that is documented (another thing Yammer couldn't spell to).

    I'm seeing a really bright feature for Office 365 with Office 365 Groups and at the moment I will have hard to justify starting a Yammer on-boarding project with my customers. That would potentially lead them into a dead end and the off-boarding story of Yammer is most likely worse than the onboarding one. At least I will tell them this story, and they can make up their own minds.

    I would not be surprised that we see a number of Yammer obituaries in the upcoming 6 to 12 months.

    What do you think? Looking forward to an interesting discussion! Is Yammer as a service a dead end? Is the Enterprise Social Network "thing" going away?

About Wictor...

Wictor Wilén is the Nordic Digital Workplace Lead working at Avanade. Wictor has achieved the Microsoft Certified Architect (MCA) - SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Certified Solutions Master (MCSM) - SharePoint  and Microsoft Certified Master (MCM) - SharePoint 2010 certifications. He has also been awarded Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) for seven consecutive years.

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