SharePoint Online upgrades cause problems for some users, developers

Microsoft says the problems aren't widespread nor systemic, and that it's actively fixing them

By , IDG News Service |  Unified Communications, Collaboration Software, SharePoint Online

In addition, the company plans to publish a "comprehensive blog post" this week as well as reach out to SharePoint Online administrators to "help mitigate known changes and articulate required steps to prepare."

Office 365 customers that are moved to the 2013 edition of SharePoint Online are being put in what Microsoft calls "14 mode", which means that the customers don't get access to any new 2013 features or user interface changes. These customers are running on top of SharePoint 2013 but won't have access to the new features until the product officially ships, according to the company.

Meanwhile, SP Marketplace has been having to regularly tweak its applications for SharePoint Online since around November, and it now views Office 365 as a problematic platform for its software, said CEO Darrell Trimble.

"We have to check every day to make sure everything is running okay, and we have also asked our customers to tell us if something isn't running well," he said. "The minute we learn something has changed, we push out an update. We've been proactive."

Ironically, SP Marketplace isn't having this issue with third-party hosting companies of the stand-alone SharePoint Online, because they typically don't change their version of the software often, and when they do, they give advance notice and details about what they'll change.

The issue SP Marketplace is having is with the SharePoint Online instances that run within the broader Office 365 suite, which is hosted exclusively by Microsoft.

"I don't know if the issue is that Microsoft doesn't understand that people are relying on that platform and on its features and functions to do what they have to do," Trimble said.

Right now, it seems to Trimble that Office 365's SharePoint Online "isn't really in the 2010 edition nor in the 2013 edition -- it's somewhere in between," and that's a big problem for SP Marketplace, which started building applications for SharePoint on-premise versions about two years ago, and modified them for SharePoint Online about a year ago.

"When you're trying to run applications or build things on top of that, it's a little hard to do because it becomes an unstable environment," Trimble said.

It's also a problem for SP Marketplace's customers, since the applications are for core business processes.

"We had very few issues until Microsoft started to talk about the 2013 upgrade and started to change things in SharePoint Online under the covers," he said.

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