For enterprises and consumers subscribing to Microsoft Office 365, the cloud storage application OneDrive for Business has quickly become the ubiquitous tool it was intended to be. Users save files and documents to OneDrive like it was just another folder on their hard drives because that is the way it is supposed to function. For the most part, they are content with OneDrive for Business and don't give it a second thought.
However, some customers do provide reasonable feedback and requests for improvement, and Microsoft continues to use that data to add features and tweak the operation of OneDrive for Business. In an April 12, 2016, blog post the Office 365 Team announced that Microsoft was rolling out several new features to OneDrive for Business. Some of the new features are subtle, and many users will be blissfully unaware of them. But other new features could change how the app is used altogether.
OneDrive for Business is one of the most useful applications you get with an Office 365 subscription. Having every file and document automatically saved to the cloud without having to do anything more than click the Save button is something people have come to depend on. I know how important it is to me.
Of course, there is always room for improvement. New features rolling out in April 2016 include additional support for Windows 8.1 and integration with Office 2016. Shared documents on OneDrive will now appear in the list of files shown by an Office 2016 app, so there will be less hunting for the correct document.
Updates to the OneDrive sync client allow users to pause syncing, specify files that are to be synced, and block files that should not be synced. In addition, users will now be able to view documents online without having to load a specific application. This is particularly useful if you are on a mobile device.
New procedures and support have also been added to the sharing features of OneDrive for Business. Sharing documents with third parties that don't have access to Microsoft products and that exist outside the enterprise domain is much easier now. Those users will still have to create a Microsoft account to view the shared document, but the new process will require only an email address or phone number and a password.
Enterprises with users who share lots of documents will appreciate new tools designed to help them manage the shared documents list. Users can now remove a shared document from the list without actually deleting the document from OneDrive. This feature alone should be a great help to the collaborative process of many enterprises.
This update will also help users of Android and iOS mobile devices by adding features like Outlook mobile integration with OneDrive for Business. Users can share files through email no matter which smartphone operating system they are using.
Microsoft is making some much needed tweaks and enhancements to OneDrive for Business. Many of the changes have been asked for time and time again by customers, so the enhancements are welcome and a bit overdue.
With each update, Microsoft improves the functionality of OneDrive for Business and increases the overall usefulness of one of its most widely used Office 365 applications. The rollout of the changes will take a few weeks to reach everyone, so be on the lookout.
- Microsoft Office 365: The smart person's guide
- Windows 10: The smart person's guide
- Microsoft's OneDrive short URLs pointed attackers right at your private files
- Microsoft OneDrive for Business to get SharePoint document sync by year-end 2016
- Microsoft updates its OneDrive for Business roadmap
Do you use OneDrive for Business? Have you noticed the new features rolling out? Share your impressions with fellow TechRepublic members.
Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.