Microsoft OneDrive for Business to get SharePoint document sync by year-end 2016

Microsoft is starting to roll out a number of Spring updates to its OneDrive Next Generation Sync Client, many of which are aimed at OneDrive for Business users.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is rolling out over the next few months, starting today, a number of new 'Spring' features for the next version of its OneDrive Next Generation Sync Client.


Officials disclosed the features for the updated NGSC -- "which we now refer to as the new OneDrive sync client," in execs' words -- on April 12. Microsoft rolled out the initial release of OneDrive NGSC for Windows and Mac users in December 2015.

According to the company, here's what's coming to users starting today, and continuing on for the next several months:

Windows 8.1 support: This completes our commitment around Windows OS support (7, 8, 8.1 and 10).Office 2016 integration: In conjunction with an Office 2016 update currently rolling out, key features such as real-time co-authoring, open documents from the Most Recent list and share documents from within the Office app will be available.

Improved setup: Now it's easy for anyone to get and install the new OneDrive sync client. No more registry keys needed on Windows or Terminal window on Mac.

Seamless client migration: If you are running the previous sync client (groove.exe), this update seamlessly transitions without requiring a resync.

Pause sync: A handy feature when you want to suspend syncing for a period of time, like when you are tethered to your phone or using Wi-Fi on an airplane.

View files online: You can now right click any document in Windows Explorer and select "view online" to navigate to the OneDrive for Business file or folder in the browser.

Sync any file type you want: We've added support for .json, .aspx, .swf files and more; you can now add any file type to your OneDrive for Business.

Block file types: IT admins can now block certain file types from syncing, such as PST or MKV files protecting limited bandwidth.

Performance and reliability improvement: Give small files in particular a big boost in upload and download speed.

Officials said "most" of these new capabilities will be available to all OneDrive for Business users within one to two weeks. The Office 2016 integration (including the associated Office 2016 update) and Pause sync features "will continue rolling out during the course of the summer," they noted.

In March 2016, officials said they were planning to deliver Windows 8.1 support in Q1 of 2016. Groove.exe takeover and pause sync were listed as Q2 2016 deliverables on Microsoft's updated OneDrive for Business roadmap.

Additional sync updates are coming beyond that, including:

Manage bandwidth: By the end of June, we'll deliver IT controls to throttle bandwidth consumption of the client. (This was listed as a Q2 deliverable on the March OneDrive for Business roadmap.)

Extended Windows Explorer integration: A simple right-click action to get a link or share files directly in Windows Explorer.

SharePoint Document Library Sync: We're adding SharePoint Online document library sync, starting with a preview in the third quarter of 2016, with general release by the end of 2016.

The SharePoint Document Library Sync is one of the most sought-after OneDrive for Business features -- and one that Microsoft execs, until today, on which officials weren't pinning a definitive ship target. In early March, Microsoft execs said they were committed to providing this functionality, but wouldn't say when.

There's still no official update as to when and how Microsoft plans to provide something to replace OneDrive Placeholders functionality that the OneDrive team removed in Windows releases following Windows 8.1.

In other Microsoft cloud services news, Microsoft updated its Skype for Business clients for iOS and Android today, April 12, adding the ability to view meeting content on Android and improvements to the meeting experience on both platforms, even when you are experiencing spotty Internet connectivity.

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