Special Feature
Part of a ZDNet Special Feature: Working from home: The future of business is remote

Microsoft throttles some Office 365 services to continue to meet demand

Microsoft is making temporary adjustments to OneNote, SharePoint and Stream video conferencing features in order to try to maintain Microsoft 365 and Office 365 performance.

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Credit: Microsoft

It's not surprising with many working and studying remotely as a result of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic that demand for cloud services is up. Microsoft has been monitoring that situation in regard to Office 365 and has started taking action to preserve overall performance by throttling some services.

On March 16, Microsoft posted to Microsoft 365/Office 365 admin dashboardds a warning about "temporary feature adjustments" that it might take. That warning told customers that Microsoft was "making temporary adjustments to select non-essential capabilities." Officials said they did not expect these changes to have significan impact on users' experiences. Among the examples of the types of changes Microsoft might take would be things like how often its services check for presence; intervals in which other parties typing are displayed; and video resolution.

Today, March 24, Microsoft started cautioning Microsoft 365/Office 365 commercial users of some other "temporary changes" they should expect. The list:

OneNote:

  • OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial tenants, excluding EDU. Users can go to OneNote for the web for editing.
  • Download size and sync frequency of file attachments has been changed.
  • You can find details on these and other OneNote related updates as http://aka.ms/notesupdates.

SharePoint:

  • We are rescheduling specific backend operations to regional evening and weekend business hours. Impacted capabilities include migration, DLP and delays in file management after uploading a new file, video or image.
  • Reduced video resolution for playback videos

Stream:

  • People timeline has been disabled for newly uploaded videos. Pre-existing videos will not be impacted.

Tony Redmond, owner and principal of Redmond & Associates consulting and lead author of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook, noted that service degradations and problems weren't surprising given the demand caused by new users of a number of its Microsoft 365/Office 365 services. Just last week, Microsoft noted the number of daily active users of Teams, its group collaboration service, was up significantly, hitting 44 million. Associated services, including SharePoint Online, OneDrive for Business, OneNote and Stream are all likely to be experiencing increased demand, as well, Redmond noted. 

Microsoft officials said they will continue to apprise customers of further restrictions and tweaks they will be making to their services to continue to meet demand.