Microsoft Expands Office 365 Profiles; Shows the Value in the First Release Program

People are key to any organization and the easier it is to find them and their contributions will improve efficiency across the enterprise or company.

Richard Hay, Senior Content Producer

March 22, 2017

3 Min Read
Microsoft Expands Office 365 Profiles; Shows the Value in the First Release Program
Courtesy of Microsoft

Beginning with OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online for Office 365 customers in the First Release program, Microsoft is rolling new beefed up profiles for users in Office 365.

These updated and expanded profiles will help fellow employees discover the content created by and the roles others have in their organization. That in turn can help the entire company become more efficient because the right people are connecting to help accomplish the mission of the company.

With an eye towards improving this synergy and productivity, Microsoft is beginning to roll out this extended profile across Office 365 with a focus on three key areas.


"Traditionally, employees looking for specific information had to manually connect the dots between people and units of knowledge. By tapping into the Office 365 graph and machine learning, the new Office 365 profile card can identify information relevant to you based on the person you’re looking up. This can help you quickly look up documents that have been shared with you, independent of how they were sent."


"We’re also working to help employees connect with people across the organization that they don’t traditionally interact with. The new Organization view shows a complete picture of the highlighted user’s position in the company, including their direct reports and co-workers. Office 365 will also surface other people relevant to the person you are looking up based on their working habits and communication."


"We’re integrating the new profile card everywhere you see a person’s name—but it’s important that the experience doesn’t interrupt your productivity. We’ve made it easy for users to achieve these tasks with as little interruption to their workflow as possible. Hovering over a name provides a quick look at their most important attributes, such as contact details, recent documents and manager. More details are only a click away with the extended flex pane that displays additional information without navigating from the page."

If you are an Office 365 administrator and do not know about the First Release program or have not turned on this capability in your organization I recommend you take a look because this program has a key benefit for you and your company.

When you assign trusted users to First Release they can see the early roll out of new features such as these expanded profiles and test them within your company. These new features often get rolled out weeks and months ahead of their mainstream release for that very purpose. If you run into any issues you can have a direct dialog with the Office 365 team and help them find and fix any bugs or issues with the service. You might even get to provide input on a feature that could become part of the final product.

It is not unlike running a Windows Insider style program in your organization to test the latest builds of a new Windows 10 feature update. You get early access to new features and see how they impact your organization plus give feedback to the Windows team for any bugs and recommended fixes or feature request.

All of these early access programs seem like a waste at times but if they are put to use in a sound and methodically way, they can really be a huge benefit to you and your users.


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About the Author(s)

Richard Hay

Senior Content Producer, IT Pro Today (Informa Tech)

I served for 29 plus years in the U.S. Navy and retired as a Master Chief Petty Officer in November 2011. My work background in the Navy was telecommunications related so my hobby of computers fit well with what I did for the Navy. I consider myself a tech geek and enjoy most things in that arena.

My first website – – came online in 1995. Back then I used GeoCities Web Hosting for it and is the result of the work I have done on that site since 1995.

In January 2010 my community contributions were recognized by Microsoft when I received my first Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Award for the Windows Operating System. Since then I have been renewed as a Microsoft MVP each subsequent year since that initial award. I am also a member of the inaugural group of Windows Insider MVPs which began in 2016.

I previously hosted the Observed Tech PODCAST for 10 years and 317 episodes and now host a new podcast called Faith, Tech, and Space. 

I began contributing to Penton Technology websites in January 2015 and in April 2017 I was hired as the Senior Content Producer for Penton Technology which is now Informa Tech. In that role, I contribute to ITPro Today and cover operating systems, enterprise technology, and productivity.

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