Microsoft goes public with its Office 365 for business roadmap

Microsoft has made available its promised roadmap for some of its coming features for Office 365 for business. It also is launching a new Office 365 dogfooding program, too.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Earlier this year, Microsoft execs said to expect the company to make available a public roadmap for some of its features for its Office 365 for business service.


On Thursday, the company delivered. The Office 365 for business roadmap, available to anyone via this Web site, shows information about Office 365 features the company has launched and made available to all users; is in the process of rolling out; are in development; or have been cancelled.

This roadmap, just to be extra clear, does not apply to Office 365 Home or Personal.

Microsoft announced the roadmap availability in a June 19 blog post.

The roadmap provides, in most cases, a couple of months' view, though in a few cases, it also provides information about updates that are further out, such as the "Oslo" application and the coming Office Graph machine-learning-powered technology.

Also as officials promised earlier this year, Microsoft is rolling out its promised "First Release" program for Office 365 for Business. Customers who opt into First Release will be able to get "a small selection of significant enhancements to the Office 365 user experience, SharePoint Online, and Exchange Online first."

Participants in First Release will get the selected feature updates a minimum of two weeks before customers in Microsoft's standard release group get access to the features. The goal is to help business customers to work out potential conflicts and problems before Office 365 updates get pushed to the masses.

What's not part of the First Release program? According to Microsoft's June 19 blog post, updates to Lync Online, Exchange Online Protection, Office 365 Pro Plus and other "related services" are not currently part of the program. The "vast majority" of service updates to Office 365 will be made available using Microsoft's standard release process, not First Release, executives acknowledged.

Currently on the roadmap site, Microsoft is listing 10 "rolling out" updates that are not yet available to all applicable customers. Among those: Customizable SharePoint Online navigation bar; Document Conversations for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online; the First Release program itself; OWA for Android Phone; and Smart Search for OneDrive for Business. Microsoft began allowing administrators to enroll in the First Release program earlier this week, according to the company's blog post. 

There are 35 "in development" updates listed on the roadmap site, including the previously mentioned Oslo and Office Graph. Others in this category include Card View in Outlook Web App; custom themes; email reminders for meetings in Outlook Web App; the increase in storage for OneDrive for Business to one terabyte and more.

There are currently no features listed as "cancelled."

Both the Office 365 for business public roadmap and the First Release program will use the Office 365 Message Center to notify customers about updates and changes to their service.

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