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SharePoint Online upgrades cause problems for some users, developers

Microsoft says the problems aren't widespread nor systemic, and that it's actively fixing them

By Juan Carlos Perez
January 8, 2013 12:15 PM ET

IDG News Service - Recent back-end upgrades by Microsoft to Office 365's SharePoint Online are causing problems for some users and developers whose workflows and applications have been disrupted by a variety of bugs.

At SP Marketplace, a Sacramento, California, developer of business applications that run on SharePoint, staffers are now constantly monitoring their software in case Microsoft back-end changes break functionality in their products.

Meanwhile, ObjectSharp, a Toronto provider of Microsoft software development, consulting and training, had to scramble late last month to troubleshoot a problem for one of its customers that was also linked to SharePoint Online upgrades.

Other users and developers are voicing similar complaints and concerns in discussion forums, blogs, Twitter and other social media channels.

The problems highlight the perils of using or building applications for hosted software: vendors can change the code and inadvertently affect the functionality for some users and developers.

Microsoft acknowledged that it has been making changes recently to the SharePoint Online back end in Office 365, and it listed the bugs triggered by the updates in a knowledge base support note. It is pruning the list as issues get solved.

According to Microsoft, it recently did a service update for the SharePoint Online version based on the 2010 edition of the product. It has also started to gradually upgrade SharePoint Online customers from the 2010 edition over to the new 2013 edition, which hasn't been officially released but is due to ship "early" this year.

The note with the list of bugs addresses issues caused by both the service update and by the move from the 2010 to the 2013 edition of SharePoint, Microsoft said in a statement.

It also said that it is motoring through the issues, fixing almost half of them "within the first few days." And it maintained that the problems are neither widespread nor systemic.

"We, too, have updated numerous processes in our service update methodology to avoid events in the future," the emailed statement reads.

The problems included design changes between the 2010 and 2013 editions, while others were "isolated customers' configuration issues."

However, Microsoft also acknowledged it has spent "a large amount of resources to improve the service update" and it paused its roll out "until all possible fixes were in place."

In addition, the company plans to publish a "comprehensive blog post" this week as well as reach out to SharePoint Online administrators to "help mitigate known changes and articulate required steps to prepare."

Office 365 customers that are moved to the 2013 edition of SharePoint Online are being put in what Microsoft calls "14 mode", which means that the customers don't get access to any new 2013 features or user interface changes. These customers are running on top of SharePoint 2013 but won't have access to the new features until the product officially ships, according to the company.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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