Office 365: Part 4 – SharePoint Online

SharePoint Online delivers SharePoint as a cloud service. It helps businesses create sites to share documents and insights and enable collaboration between colleagues, partners, and customers. People can also customize these capabilities to address specific business needs. This means that people can share ideas and expertise and find the information they want—all without the need to set up SharePoint in their organization’s data center. Plus, SharePoint Online provides high availability, comprehensive security, and simplified management.  SharePoint Online provides sites to:

  1. Manage and share important documents. (My Sites)
  2. Keep teams in sync and manage important projects. (Team Sites)
  3. Stay up-to-date with company information and news. (Intranet Sites)
  4. Share documents securely with partners and customers. (Extranet Sites)
  5. Market your business using a simple public-facing website. (Internet Sites)

Given below are some of the key features of SharePoint Online in Office 365:




500 megabytes (MB) per user account

Site storage quotas

Up to 50 gigabytes (GB) per site collection

Site collections


Total storage per tenant

Up to 1 terabyte per tenant

File upload limit

250 MB

Works with Microsoft Office 2010

Microsoft Access 2010, Microsoft Excel 2010, Microsoft InfoPath 2010, Microsoft OneNote 2010, Microsoft Outlook 2010, Microsoft PowerPoint 2010, Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010, Microsoft Word 2010

Browser support

  • Internet Explorer 7
  • Internet Explorer 8
  • Firefox 3
  • Safari 3.1.2 on Macintosh OS X 10.5

Mobile device support

  • Windows Mobile 6.5.x
  • Nokia E series and N series devices
  • Apple iPhone 2.0

Points to note on storage are:

  • The storage is aggregated/pooled among the users. For example, an organization of 1,000 users has 500,000 MB (~500 GB) of storage.
  • Users can purchase more SharePoint Online storage in GB increments charged monthly
  • The SharePoint Online service administrator can set the storage limits for site collections and sites created by users. The maximum storage available for any site collection is 50 GB
  • The maximum SharePoint Online storage available to a single company is 1 terabyte
SharePoint Online Capabilities

As in on-premise SharePoint 2010, all the 6 primary capabilities are available in SharePoint Online: Sites, Communities, Content, Search, Insights and, Composites. A detailed feature comparison between SharePoint Online and SharePoint 2010 is provided in Appendix B: SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server Feature Comparison of the Microsoft_SharePoint_Online_Standard_Beta_Service_Description_Final.docx document.

note: Not all the features in SharePoint 2010 are available during the Office 365 Beta and also may not be available at General Availability of SharePoint Online. Some features will be made available to SharePoint Online users in subsequent updates released quarterly. These are highlighted clearly in the service description document.

Office integration

SharePoint Online works with familiar Office applications. You can easily create Office documents and save directly to SharePoint Online, or you can coauthor documents with Microsoft Office Web Apps. Access important documents offline or from mobile devices and set document-level permissions to help protect sensitive content. With one click you can communicate in real-time with colleagues, customers, and partners from within SharePoint sites.

Some highlights of the new functionality in Microsoft Office 2010 that interoperate with SharePoint Online include:

  • Backstage View: The Microsoft Office Backstage™ view allows users to manage their documents and related data—they can create, save, and send documents; inspect documents for hidden metadata or personal information; set options such as turning on or off AutoComplete suggestions; and more.
  • PowerPoint Broadcasting: Presenters can broadcast their slide shows to people in other locations, whether or not they have PowerPoint installed.
  • Document Co-Authoring: With new co-authoring capabilities, multiple users can edit the same document, at the same time, even if they are in different locations. Users can even communicate as they work, directly from within the desktop application.
  • Outlook Alerts: Users can stay updated on changes to documents and list items on their SharePoint site by receiving notifications of changes as alerts and Really Simple Syndication (RSS).
  • Using SharePoint Workspace to Manage Documents Offline: Users can synchronize SharePoint 2010 libraries and lists to their computers with just a few clicks. They can easily update documents and lists offline, and be confident that everything will automatically synchronize to the server when they are back online.

Together, Outlook 2010 and SharePoint Online support:

  • Read/write access to SharePoint Online items such as calendars, tasks, contacts, discussions, and documents.
  • Synchronization for offline support of document libraries and lists.
  • Ability to check out and edit SharePoint site documents when offline.
  • Roll-up views of calendars and tasks across multiple lists and sites.
  • Unified view of personal and SharePoint tasks in Outlook 2010.
SharePoint Designer 2010 Support

Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2010 is a Web and application design program you can use to design, build, and customize your Web sites on SharePoint Online. With SharePoint Designer 2010, you can create data-rich Web pages, build powerful workflow-enabled solutions, and design the look and feel of your site. The Workflow Designer in SharePoint Designer 2010 can be used to create rules that associate conditions and actions with items in SharePoint Online lists and libraries. Changes to items in lists or libraries then trigger actions in the workflow.

note: Backup and restore from SharePoint Designer is not supported in SharePoint Online

Data Backup

Data protection services are provided to prevent the loss of SharePoint Online data. Backups are performed every 12 hours and retained for 14 days.  This is not available during Beta.

Virus Filtering

Forefront Security for SharePoint is included with SharePoint Online to help protect the SharePoint Online environment from viruses while maintaining uptime and optimizing performance.

Developer Help

You can find articles, videos, and training for the developer features available in SharePoint Online at the SharePoint Online Developer Resource Center. Start by viewing Video: Developing for SharePoint 2010 Online: Understanding the boundaries - In this video from Tech Ed North America 2010, developer evangelist Chris Mayo helps define what the developer can and cannot do with SharePoint Online to help you understand where the boundaries lie.

Sandboxed Solutions

SharePoint Online allows tenant administrators to upload custom solutions without Microsoft review with a new feature called sandboxed solutions, which run at the site collection level and use a subset of the Microsoft.SharePoint namespace.

Client Object Model

The unified client object model in SharePoint Online provides a streamlined development experience and easy access to SharePoint functionality from remote clients. SharePoint Online supports Web 2.0 types of applications that are hosted in the browser and written in ECMAScript (JavaScript, JScript) or Microsoft Silverlight 2.0, and classical .NET client applications. Refer to:

Besides these options, you can enrich solutions be leveraging Excel, InfoPath Forms, Visio, and Access Services and also use the Web services available in SharePoint Online to interact with your SharePoint data remotely.

Administrator Help

The SharePoint Online Administrator manages site collections, sets up site collection administrators, ensures that storage quotas are maintained, and enables features on site collections. The SharePoint Online Administration Guide contains procedures for the SharePoint Online Administrator.

SharePoint Online Planning and Administration contains planning guides to help guide site collection administrators and site owners through the steps involved in setting up and using SharePoint Online for Microsoft Office 365 Beta.

End User Help

SharePoint Online for Enterprises

SharePoint Online for Small Businesses


Note: this post is part of a series of posts on Office 365 Beta. Links: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4