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SharePoint Online Updated – What’s New?

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At the end of the year, Microsoft completed the first update to SharePoint Online.  The main goals of this update were to enable greater reach to both people and external data, while at the same time increasing the number of supported devices and Web browsers.  However, there were many other new additions like the following:

Business Connectivity Services (BCS)

All Office 365 midsize and enterprise customers worldwide have access to BCS in SPO which enables them to connect to external data sources via Windows Communication Foundation (WCF) Web Services endpoints in both read and write modes.  What that means is that you can design solutions that extend collaboration capabilities that include external business data, such as line-of-business (LoB) applications that sit behind customer firewalls, or are being transitioned to the cloud (think SQL Azure).  Best yet, you can download SharePoint Designer 2010 for free to help make the connections.

External Sharing

Now you are supported when working with people who are not part of your company, such as vendors, business partners, and customers. Leverage these external sharing capabilities to invite external users to view, share, and collaborate on your SharePoint Online sites. Although this feature is turned off by default, a SharePoint Online Administrator can enable external sharing for the whole company enabling individual site collection owner administrators to decide if they wish to share externally.

Improved Connections

It’s easier than ever to connect to your own SharePoint Online sites now that more browsers are supported.  In addition to earlier versions of Internet Explorer and Firefox, SPO now officially supports Internet Explorer 9 and Chrome.

SPO is also better connected with other LoB applications like Microsoft Dynamics CRM, giving CRM users access to rich, SharePoint Online document management functionality directly within the Microsoft Dynamics CRM application. Users can create SPO Document Libraries dynamically within CRM—when and where they are needed as well as adding Document Management capabilities to entities such as Accounts, Opportunities, Cases or even custom entities in Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

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By Socius, an Ohio SharePoint Partner

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