Huge OneDrive News From Microsoft Ignite 2016

Huge OneDrive news was announced at last month’s Microsoft Ignite conference. Especially noteworthy is that there’s OneDrivea preview of this new OneDrive sync client available now that will sync both your OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Team Sites. It also includes selective sync for folders and files.

I’ve inserted the 12″ video at the end if you want to watch, but this article will summarize Reuben Krippner’s remarks. He divided his remarks into 4 areas:

  • New sync capabilities
  • New browser enhancements
  • Mobile improvements
  • IT/Administrative add-ons

Single Sync Client for OneDrive and SharePoint Sites

The new OneDrive sync client, in preview, will reliably (so they say), sync both your OneDrive for Business and your SharePoint Sites. In addition, selective sync is also in this preview. Now, you can choose, by device, which folders you want downloaded to your computer/laptop/tablet.

Here’s what your new selective screen looks like. To access it, right-click on your OneDrive icon and go to settings.

selective sync selection pop-up
image from Microsoft Blog

Users will have the ability to share folders in OneDrive for Business with people in your organization (so they need to be a user in your domain). You can still share folders with someone outside (if your permissions are set to allow this), however, the person(s) you share with will have to have a Microsoft account. It can be an Office 365 account, or a live, outlook or even an account attached to an X-box.

Interestingly enough, if you want to share your OneDrive for Business documents, you can set up that sharing without the recipient having to have a Microsoft account. So documents can be shared without a sign-in, but not folders. I’m not sure if this will change or not.

Installing the Preview

I have installed the preview on my desktop and can do the selective sync. Everything synced up well at first, but I see now I have a ‘processing changes’ message on my cloud that isn’t resolving. I’ll be working on that as time allows. Next week, I’ll have a video or step-by-step on how to install the preview.

New Browser Enhancements

When previewing your documents in either OneDrive or SharePoint, you’ll see what’s called ‘rich preview’ snippets instead of blank looking icons. Of course, you’ll need to set your view to icons and not list to see the snippets.

Here’s a look at some of my OneDrive documents in this preview. It is helpful and saves time when trying to locate a document quickly and you may not remember the name.

rich snippet preview OneDrive for Business

Also new with the preview is the ability to select multiple files and have them download all at once in a zip file that can easily be extracted.

One feature not in the preview, but will roll out is having all your SharePoint sites appear in the left sidebar of your OneDrive for Business. I was looking for this setting all over the place until this video said it will be rolled out.

Eventually, we will also be able to move folders and documents from OneDrive to SharePoint and visa-versa (at least I think it goes both ways). I’m anxiously waiting for this one.

Mobile Improvements

On iOS and Android, when someone shares a file with you, you’ll be notified. On Android, the scan feature, you’ll now be able to do multi-page scans and have an entire document in one pdf instead of multiple files..

Also new is the ability to to get analytics on how many have looked at files you’ve shared.

There were no announcements or enhancements for Windows Phone. If you have a Windows Phone (I gave up mine because of lack of apps), then get used to the fact that anything for you, even Microsoft-related, will be last on their list or even entirely left out.

Office Integration Improvements

Documents can be shared directly from the web apps as well as co-authoring documents. If you open a document and someone is currently working on it, you’ll see the notification. Comments can be left on any document and your analytics are also available from the web.

In the backstage view, you will see the files you’ve most recently looked at. That part isn’t new, but a new feature will be a backstage view on seeing what documents are being shared with you.

Admin Enhancements

If you are the admin/leader for your organization’s Office 365 tenant, there will be some admin tweaks that will make your life easier. It seems to me whenever I log in, there’s a new look to the Admin Center. I’m always having to look for a setting and wonder where they’ve moved it. I know they are ‘improvements’, but it seems they make it pretty hard to get to settings.

Anyway – here are the latest round of improvements coming in the next few months.

  • ability to change and update settings for all users from your admin panel
  • a dedicated OneDrive For Business console where you can enable and disable settings for everyone in your organization regarding who they are allowed to share with
  • limit sharing to people in your organization or to specific domains
  • limit what external users can do, i.e. set folders or documents to read only and not allow downloads
  • set storage limits by user

 

Conclusion

I’ve been watching several presentations on OneDrive and SharePoint Sync from Ignite and the team has delivered on so many things from last year’s Ignite meeting. With this preview available now and the rest of the upgrades rolling out the rest of this year and probably finishing up in early 2017, sync problems and limitations should be a thing of the past.

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