Find out first - News and announcements in the Office Blog


Are you interested in understanding Microsoft's perspective, strategy, and vision for Office 365?  Do you like hearing announcements and news from the Office 365 product group leaders?  If you answered yes, the Office Blogs may be perfect for you!


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The Office Blogs is where Microsoft announces exciting new services and applications, provides insight into the thought process behind our innovation, and shares best practices and success stories from other organizations like yours.  Much like a newspaper, the content is interesting, consumable, and applies to the broadest possible audience.


How do the Office Blogs compare and contrast to the Office 365 Roadmap and Message Center?  Great question, and thanks for asking!  The Office Blogs are like a newspaper, and the information is high level, general, and always interesting.  The Office 365 Roadmap contains additional details and is more comprehensive in listing each service, application, feature, and functionality.  The Message Center communications are posted within the Admin Center based on the organiztion's subscriptions, geography, and First Release status.  In general, features and services are announced in the Office Blogs.  They will then show up in the Office 365 Roadmap (appearing in NDA/Premier version at the same time or slightly earlier), and once the feature or service begins deploying to Production tenants, a notification is posted in the Message Center.

12 Replies
I like the blogs, but they lack of scheduling detail can be very frustrating. It would nice if the authors would update the posts as more information comes available and if old blogs could be flagged somehow to indicate that a newer post supercedes the old one.

This is a great suggestion!  In some cases, blog posts are updated with new information, but it is not a consistent practice.  Here's an example blog post where the author made modifications and called them out at the top.  However, expecting you to go back and reread articles to see if anything has changed seems unrealistic.  At the very least, we should reference previous blog posts and confirm when it superscedes the previous.


More generally, I am hearing a need to clarify release timelines and ensure relevance of availability communications.  What we've been finding is that Message Center notifications are a better way for providing this information.  We're able to capture feedback (and follow up if an email address is included) right within the tool, and because it's associated with your tenant and identity, we can ensure that the communication applies to the organization's subscription, geography, and First Release status.


You may still find a gap between the blog and Message Center where the Roadmap website plays a role.  However, I know there aren't dates/months listed there either.  For Partners and Premier customers, there is an NDA version published monthly that includes additional details.

For me, I dont follow the blogs site, i strictly get exposed to articles on Yammer and Twitter, that is where I see others post or tweet links to the articles that I then go read.  I almost never just GO to the blogs site for kicks.


Note, this is also not typically from Microsoft accounts, sometimes it is, but many times just a retweet or a post from a community expert that beat everyone else to the punch.

The Change Alerts group on the Yammer based Office 365 Network was born from a need as a community, to make each other aware of observed changes. Many of those changes had not been announced or blogged. We could follow the Yammer group and hear about observed changes as soon as they were posted, and join the discussion. Later, we might see a blog post or announcement somewhere.
This was my primary way to keep up with Office 365.
I agree. The community discussion allowed feedback to/from other companies and users about things we were seeing that had no official statement from Microsoft.

This is great to understand, and I'm really pleased to hear that the community is helpful!  I'm optimisitc that this group will serve a similar purpose and deliver even greater value.


Do you recall any specific changes that were identified first in the group and only communicated officially later?  This is an experience that we're seeking to avoid, so opportunities to learn from suboptimal examples is useful.

I think the Modern Doc Library experience is the most impactful one, although I have had questions about where things like Site Contents have been identified on the Road Map. We like to tie back the changes taking place to the Road Map and use that as our guide - what to expect over the next x months. Things like the Recycle Bin, that just pop into FR. While it sounds small, end user interface changes of any kind need change management on our end, so we appreciate the identification of the change in the Road Map followed by the Change Alert as it hits FR and we can test with our FR users.


Additionally, there are often things that don't behave as they should, or as we would anticipate. Again, I think the new Doc Library experience threads in the Yammer community speak to the number of "odd" experiences and code tweaks required. We are currently experiencing weird things with the new Recycle Bin.


Hope that answers your question. Not trying to slam - I personally love the cloud-first approach and the quick cycles of innovation. I also would love more buttoned up identification of impactful changes and Change Alerts that tie back clearly to items listed on the Road Map. That allows larger institutions to manage change within our organizations for overall success - both our team and your team succeeding.

@Amanda Downing, thank you so much!  Your feedback is incredibly helpful and insightful, and it does not read like a slam by any means!  The perspective that you shared is exactly what I want to understand, and it enables us to continue refining how we think about impactful changes and improve communications.


Would you mind sharing a bit more about your change management approach and how you define impactful changes within your organization?  For example, do you have a Change Advisory Board that reviews and approves new applications?  Do business units have adoption leads and subject matter experts, or do all computer related questions get routed to your help desk?


I would love to learn more about how your organization and everyone else's are approaching change management and communications.

I think you have to understand the purpose of office.blogs. These are not grand technical descriptions of features at a depth that will satisfy those who want to understand how new features work. They are marketing announcements designed to drive awareness of new features and to give some indication of when the features might appear in tenants. There is a huge gap between announcement and delivery in terms of technical information that is useful to administrators, flighting to tenants, showing up to users via different clients, and so on. I treat the blogs as heads-up announcements of things that I should investigate, but invariably it takes some time before the necessary information appears. Such is life. I'm used to the cadence now, appreciate the fact that announcements happen, and accustomed to researching the finer points in due course thereafter.

We don't look to the blogs for that information. We use them, combined with the road map, for a conceptual heads up and understanding. The gap, as you mention, is in the technical information that allows us to understand the change and prepare for it.


I like the frequent change and the cadence. I find it tricky that feature deprecation and/or absence would not be noted as a matter of course by the developers involved. I think it is a gap that could be shored up fairly easily.