Wanted to make you aware of some changes coming to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature. I know some of you have customers utilizing this capability as part of Office 365 or you may be utilizing it yourselves as your primary company website to promote your organization.
Starting this month, existing customers of this feature will continue to have access for another two years. New customers who subscribe to Office 365 after the changeover date will not have access to this feature. Moving forward, Office 365 customers will have access to third-party offerings that will enable them to easily integrate their public presence with their Office 365 service. More information about these solutions will be made available later this month.
I would encourage you to review Information about upcoming changes to SharePoint Online Public Website for additional information about the change. I have also included some pertinent info from that site here.
Why is Microsoft making this change?
As part of the evolution of the Office 365 service, we periodically evaluate the capabilities of the service to make sure that we’re delivering the utmost value to customers. Although it was a difficult decision to discontinue the SharePoint Online Public Website feature, this change lets us focus on future investments while we broaden our partnership with industry leaders.
How will this change be communicated to Office 365 customers?
All Office 365 administrators who have provisioned SharePoint Online will receive a notification in the Office 365 Message Center.
What is our guidance to customers for existing SharePoint Online Public Websites?
There is no immediate change for existing customers. Office 365 customers who currently use the SharePoint Online Public Website feature will continue to have access to the feature for a minimum of two years after the change. Moving forward, customers will have to plan to move to one of the third-party solutions offered or to a different solution of their choice.
What are the third-party solution offerings?
Office 365 customers will have access to industry-leading tools and services that are provided directly from third-party solution providers for building and managing your online presence. We will provide more information about the third-party solutions in January 2015.
I have subscriptions to Office 365, but I haven't provisioned SharePoint Online yet. Will I still have access to SharePoint Online Public Websites after this change?
No. If you haven't used SharePoint online yet, the situation will be the same as if you were a new customer. To be considered as an existing user of the SharePoint Online Public Website feature and maintain access for two years after the changeover date, you must take action by the end of January 2015. Our guidance going forward is to use the third-party options after they become available.
Because the existing SharePoint Online Public Website feature was designed for customers who needed only a basic online presence, the ultimate benefit to customers with this change is that the new solutions will provide more robust tools and solutions that are required to deliver, support, and manage a fuller online presence.