Microsoft to make OneDrive differential sync available for all file types later this year

Microsoft is adding new features to SharePoint, OneDrive for Business and Stream video, and is continuing to push ahead with its 'SharePoint Spaces' mixed-reality technology.

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Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft is adding some new features to SharePoint, its Stream business video service and OneDrive for Business -- all of which officials are talking up today at the Microsoft SharePoint Conference 2019 in Las Vegas. As with all Microsoft products announcements these days, the emphasis is on making the company's wares smarter, more collaborative and more secure.

While Microsoft does offer differential sync for Office 2016 files stored in OneDrive for Business, it still doesn't yet provide this capability for other file types. (Differential sync is the ability to sync only the parts of files that had changed, not entire files.) 

But at the SharePoint Conference today, officials are promising that differential sync will be available for all file types in OneDrive later this year. Other types of file types likely to be supported include image formats like GIFs, JPEG, TIFF and more; AutoCAD DWG; audio/video media files like MP4; ZIP files, EPUB files; Open Office formats such as ODP, ODS, ODT; etc.

"Currently OneDrive supports differential sync for modern Office file formats. Later this year, differential sync will support all files stored in Microsoft 365," according to Microsoft's blog post.

Microsoft has had a few false stops and starts in its road to enabling differential sync in OneDrive. That feature, which officials have said is one of the most user-requested capabilities for OneDrive, has been on (and off) the OneDrive roadmap since at least 2017.

Microsoft also is taking the wraps off a new SharePoint feature called SharePoint Home Sites during the event today, May 21. A SharePoint Home Site is an Intranet landing page for organizations which supports the new unified Microsoft Search; broadcasts relevant news and content to each employee based on their role in an organization; and includes Yammer and Microsoft Stream video content. Microsoft is promising that customers can deploy Home Sites in minutes and customize/brand the sites without coding.

Speaking of Microsoft Stream, officials are announcing today that users can securely record, upload and share Stream videos from the Stream mobile apps for iOS and Android. Users can insert polls, surveys and/or quizzes into their videos using Microsoft Forms, as officials are expected to demonstrate today. 

Finally, for those wondering what's going on with SharePoint Spaces, Microsoft is providing an update. SharePoint Spaces is a capability Microsoft debuted last year that will allow users to create and view mixed-reality content visible from tethered headsets (not its HoloLens) and browsers. Today, Microsoft officials say more than 1,800 companies have applied to be part of its SharePoint Spaces preview announced a year ago. 

Microsoft will talk more about what's happening with SharePoint Spaces at Ignite 2019 in November 2019, officials said. Last year, officials said Microsoft is planning to make SharePoint Spaces an option for anyone with an Office 365 commercial (business) plan. To use it, users will be able to work with templates for creating mixed-reality environments, to which they can add 2D files, 3D video, documents and other data they are storing in SharePoint.