Microsoft to update SharePoint with deeper personalized search support

Microsoft is readying new smarter SharePoint search capabilities, as well as several other new features for SharePoint customers.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft officials previewed the company's plans for its next set of SharePoint updates and features during the SharePoint Virtual Summit webcast on May 15.


While Microsoft will continue to support its SharePoint Server on-premises users and will release a second Feature Pack for SharePoint Server 2016 later this year, a number of its coming SharePoint updates will be available first (and in some cases, exclusively) for SharePoint Online/Office 365. SharePoint Server Feature Pack 2 will begin providing SharePoint Framework component integration.

More than 60 percent of Microsoft's total SharePoint seats are currently in SharePoint Online, rather than SharePoint on-premises, officials said. More than 250,000 organizations currently have SharePoint somewhere in their companies, officials said, with the number of SharePoint active monthly users up 90 percent compared to the previous year. (Microsoft is not providing a SharePoint user total figure, but has said that there are more than 100 million Office 365 Commercial seats, which means there are close to 100 million SharePoint Online users.)

On the roadmap front, Microsoft is readying personalized search for SharePoint in Office 365, which will show results not just for Sites and Files, but also People.

Over the next few months, Microsoft will roll out the capability for recommendations regarding recent documents, relevant content and news and the like to appear instantly when users click on the Search box in Office. Recommendations about people who may provide related information also will be surfaced based on information in their Office 365 profiles. The People Cards that are activated will provide pertinent information from users' profiles.

What makes the search results "personalized" is the underlying Microsoft Graph foundation. Over time, Microsoft has committed to bringing in more "signals" from Yammer, Microsoft Teams and Planner to the Microsoft Graph, which will affect the lists of Sites, Files and People that users see in their SharePoint Home results in a single tenant within Office 365.

This new personalized People search is how Microsoft will deliver the knowledge management capabilities that officials previously expected to deliver using the cancelled Infopedia portal on SharePoint.

Microsoft also is adding a simpler sharing experience by allowing users to share directly from Windows 7 and/or Windows 10 File Explorer, as well as Mac Finder, starting this June. Users will be able to share files or folders with specific people or send a link to allow anyone inside or outside an organization to access shared content.

Microsoft also is going back to modernize existing SharePoint Team sites by connecting them to Office 365 Groups. Microsoft also plans to add the ability to add SharePoint pages as tabs in Microsoft Teams later this Fall. Additionally, users will be able to create SharePoint Communication sites that can be viewed on the Web, PC or Mac, mobile browsers and/or in SharePoint apps.

Microsoft is adding more integration points between SharePoint and PowerApps and Flow. Users will be able to use PowerApps to create custom forms from inside SharePoint lists and libraries rather than relying only on default SharePoint forms. And new built-in approval forms will allow users to send customized email messages from inside SharePoint.

Microsoft will provide an update on its progress and more firm delivery dates on these new capabilities at its Ignite conference in September, officials said.

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