May 20, 2013

SharePoint Online – Sharing Content Outside Your Organization

Joshua Grear

Joshua Grear

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Microsoft has introduced an exciting new feature for all Office 365 and SharePoint Online plans. This new feature has the ability to share sites, lists, document libraries, and documents with external users. External users are defined by Microsoft as “users who are not employees, contractors, or onsite agents for either you or your affiliates.” As you can imagine, this type of capability has many useful applications – from sharing a single file with another individual to multiple people collaborating on content within a site.

Sharing is Easy

Sharing content in SharePoint Online is easy. First, you decide how much content you wish to share. This could be an entire site, a list, a document library or a single document.  In all cases, a single-click starts the process.

  • Site – Click the “SHARE” link in the top right area of the ribbon (shown below)

  • List or Library – Click the “Share With” link in the list or library’s context ribbon

  • Document – Click the  “Share” link in the file ribbon or the file preview

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Next, as shown below, you will be prompted to supply the email address of the external user(s). Likewise, you can define a personal message, whether an email invitation should be sent and the level of permissions the external user(s) should have for this content (view or edit).

The Shared Experience

An external user invited to the shared content will receive an email invitation (assuming the option was selected) directing him or her to the content. The user will then be asked to log in with a Microsoft account (formerly Live ID) or be instructed to create a new one. Once logged in, the user has access to the shared content and even has access to use Office Web Apps to view and/or edit the documents!

While this new functionality is a great advancement for sharing and collaboration, it is not without limitations. First of all, the features available to the external user are the features available to the licensed customer and their Office 365 plan. Likewise, external users cannot create new sites, My Sites, or act as site administrators. Finally, external users are not able to access the Search Center. These limitations are not that restrictive however. Keep in mind, these users are not licensed; therefore, it is FREE.

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To The Cloud

To take advantage of this new feature, you must have an Office 365 implementation since this new feature is not available for on-premise implementations. In general, Microsoft has decided to invest heavily in Office 365 and the Cloud. Microsoft believes the Cloud is the future of computing, and at Credera, we agree. As consultants, we are seeing more and more of our clients taking the plunge. Whether piloting trials in Office 365, building out hybrid environments, or moving all of their on-premise properties to the Cloud.

If you are considering a move to the Cloud, we would love to come alongside your team and help navigate the skies ahead. If you are interested in learning how Credera can help, please contact Credera  or send a tweet to @CrederaMSFT.

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