The most useful and controversial changes in Office 365 (Part 2 of 2)

This is part 2. To read part 1, click (here).

In general, Corporate IT Departments want to control the end-user computing experience. Surprises are to be avoided. Pop-ups are anathema to Corporate IT because they result in annoying helpdesk tickets “should I click on this button?” (anyone who has ever served on a helpdesk, God bless them, is rolling their eyes because they know that non-technical people somehow cannot deal with pop-up messages. My favorite: “Should I accept this end-user agreement?” My sarcastic response: “Just click no, we can end this call now and close the ticket.” In all seriousness, surprise pop-up messages that are not communicated first by a trusted source, (“The IT Department”) can cause non-technical end-users to freeze up and panic. Therefore, changes in Office 365 that disrupt the end-user in any way (pop-up messages, etc) are seen as highly controversial (to put it mildly).

Here is a summary of the most controversial changes in Office 365 over the past six months.

The What’s new dialog prompt:

Why is this controversial? First, because this pop-up cannot be suppressed. The ‘What’s New’ dialog box will appear approximately once every 30 days to communicate changes directly to end-users. If the IT Department doesn’t proactively notify end-users about the contents of the pop-up, then this could lead to questions by end-users on whether it is a virus pop-up; many users have been conditioned (wisely) to not click on unfamiliar pop-ups.
Second, because it can advertise features that that IT Department may have disabled, leading to confusion among end-users. For example, if IT has disabled ‘Office 365 Groups’ then do you want a pop-up message to advertise features about it?

The “One-Click Archive” button in Outlook, announced on Feb 25th (here).

Why is this controversial? First, because it generates a pop-up message in Outlook that causes a non-technical person to have to make a decision.

This can lead to helpdesk requests from users seeking advice on what to decide (anyone who disputes this has never worked on a helpdesk before).

Second, because IT has no administrative controls to disable this feature. Why would someone want to disable this? Because if an Enterprise has enabled the Personal Archive feature then this button does not integrate with it, and instead creates a 2nd location to store archived messages. This leads to confusion by the end user on where to look for messages.

OneDrive for iOS App – take data offline -announced May 4th (here)

The OneDrive iOS can now take OneDrive and SharePoint files offline.

Why is this controversial? If you don’t have a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution such as Intune deployed, how will you wipe the offline files when the employee leaves your organization?

Docs.com – announced August 4th

Docs.com
provides a way for users to Publish Office Documents externally, directly within Word/Excel/PowerPoint, or by browsing to docs.com.

Why is this controversial? If your organization has limited external sharing (for security reasons) then Docs.com allows your users to bypass controls setup by IT/Security. IT Departments who have configured URL filtering to block Google Drive, DropBox and other 3rd party file sharing sites may elect to block Docs.com, since Microsoft currently does not provide any IT controls to disable this feature. For more information click (here).

Second, because your users will be receiving a pop-up notification to advertise this feature. So even if you block docs.com via a URL filter, you cannot suppress the what’s new dialog box.

Clutter is replaced with “Focused Inbox” – announced July 26th (here)

Focused Inbox is essentially a way to quickly filter an inbox to show the most important items, similar to what Clutter promised, but with the advantage of not moving it to a separate folder. This is the same feature that has already been available to the Outlook for iOS (if you are using it).

Why is this controversial? Users will receive a pop-up prompt in Outlook to opt-in to Focused Inbox. After they opt-in, Clutter will no longer move items to the clutter folder. Read this help article for more details on the prompts users will see and how to turn Focused Inbox on and off.

IMHO – Focused Inbox is really a much better way to solve the same problem of decluttering an inbox by simply providing a user a ‘view’ of their inbox. IT should communicate the value of Focused Inbox rather than resisting it or scrambling to disable it. Office 365 admins will have mailbox and tenant level control of the feature to stage the rollout in a manner that works best for their organization. However, I feel this is a good feature that should be left on when it rolls out to first-release subscribers in September.

Honorable Mentions:

Modern UI in SharePoint/OneDrive. Did I miss any controversial changes in the past 6 months? If so, please leave a comment.

Have you been caught off-guard by changes in Office 365? Patriot Consulting offers a monthly subscription service to help IT Departments understand and prepare for upcoming changes in Office 365. Watch a brief video about our service (here) or drop us a note at hello@patriotconsultingtech.com to learn more.