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

SP Marketplace tested its applications against the first preview version of SharePoint Online 2013 that Microsoft made available, and they worked fine, but they have been breaking as Microsoft has further modified the software, he said.

It doesn't seem like a good decision to update Office 365's SharePoint Online with the "14 mode" code of SharePoint 2013 if that edition hasn't shipped officially yet, he said.

"Being a good Microsoft partner, I'll do anything I can to help Microsoft, but it seems they're shooting themselves in the foot," Trimble said.

At ObjectSharp, a pilot SharePoint site built for one of its customers disappeared from end users' views in late December, sending ObjectSharp on a frantic, two-day troubleshooting mission.

At first, ObjectSharp's staff didn't suspect the culprit could be a Microsoft back-end upgrade, so it spent a big chunk of time trying to isolate the problem on its customer's end.

A 45-minute call to Microsoft support yielded no helpful clues, but on a second call a different Microsoft representative suggested the problem was likely related to the back-end upgrades.

Sure enough, when Object Sharp checked, their customer's SharePoint Online version had been moved to the "14 mode" version.

"But the user interface is still the 2010 interface," said Bruce Johnson, ObjectSharp's vice president of technology.

Neither ObjectSharp nor its customer got a notice from Microsoft that this SharePoint Online version would be switched over, he said.

"I assume that Microsoft thought no one would be affected," he said.

Eventually, ObjectSharp was able to regain programmatic access to the affected site.

"Microsoft has been so solid, so strong in keeping Office 365 servers up and running, that the idea that this might happen for something so silly as a back-end upgrade and not notify people, I found that simply stunning," Johnson said.

If its customer's site had been live, 20,000 internal users and any external visitors would have lost access to it. The customer has now decided to postpone rolling out this site until Microsoft completes the SharePoint Online move to the 2013 version and all the kinks have been ironed out, he said.

SP Marketplace's Trimble hopes Microsoft gets the situation under control as well.

"This has been a challenge. We're not saying don't go to Office 365. We're just sending a message to Microsoft to get a handle on this. We've got a lot of successful customers out there who love Office 365 and our apps, but they're nervous and it's not because of the platform itself, but because of the way Microsoft is managing it," Trimble said.

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