If you've been watching SharePoint Online news from Microsoft recently, you may have noticed the company is making some distinct changes. And, most of those changes being reported are resulting in specific features and functionality being trash binned. There's even rumors that Microsoft may be working to eliminate SharePoint altogether at some point, in lieu of a new product built strictly on Office 365.
Today we learn, thanks to a just released KB Article (3027254), that the Public Website feature of SharePoint Online will soon be dropped. Public Websites is a feature intended to give SharePoint Online customers the ability to put up external web sites quickly using content stored in the online service. The feature was never been intended to provide a rich web site experience and really just add-on capability to increase product value.
(A big nod to Mary Jo Foley for the tip on the KB Article)
The feature will deprecated in January 2015 and current customers will be notified through the Office 365 Message Center. Existing customers using the retired feature will have up to two years to continue using it. New customers will not even be offered the feature. The two years is being given as a grace period to allow customers to choose an alternative solution. Microsoft is putting the responsibility of migrating any current data and content on the customer, stating that it is currently a manual process to be completed by the customer.
In its place, Microsoft will be making announcements about possible third-party solutions that will be linked to in Office 365, though the company has no communication ready to give names. The reveal of the third-party solutions will also be communicated in January when the Public Websites feature is officially removed from the service, and it seems that the third-party solutions will cost extra, though Microsoft will offer a discounted pricing deal.
Why is Microsoft making the change? Microsoft states the reason as wanting to focus on future investments and broaden its partnership with industry leaders.
You can read full details here: Information about upcoming changes to the SharePoint Online Public Website
It's interesting that Microsoft has used its KB Support site to make the announcement.
What do you think about this change? Will this impact your organization?