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SharePoint Communication Site Feature Gets Mobile App Support

SharePoint is getting mobile application support for the new Communication Site feature, along with list improvements, Microsoft announced this week.

On the mobile side, Microsoft announced this week that the most recent SharePoint Mobile Apps for iOS (version 3.0) and Android (version 2.0 beta) now support the Communication Site feature. The Android 2.0 App is expected to hit general availability sometime this month.

Some organizations may lack support for the Communication Site feature. Microsoft's announcement clarified that "Communication Sites are rolling out gradually to all organizations."

During Microsoft's SharePoint Virtual Summit event in May, Microsoft officials had explained that the Communication Site feature would get rolled out worldwide sometime in the third quarter of this year. A Communication Site is designed for broader communications compared with a traditional Team Site, which is seen as more appropriate for intragroup communications.

List Type Improvements
On the lists side, a couple of SharePoint list types, namely "Links" and "Announcements," are getting performance and responsiveness improvements. Those improvements will start rolling out "around August 8, 2017," according to a Microsoft Tech Community notice by Chris McNulty, a senior product marketing manager for SharePoint and Office 365.

These two improved list types "are not supported by the Lists web part," McNulty clarified. "If you need to add links or updates in a web part on a modern SharePoint page, we recommend the Quick Links and News web parts," he added.

SharePoint Online Site Mailboxes Transition
Microsoft also this week recapped that the Site Mailboxes feature of SharePoint Online has been deprecated. In essence, Microsoft wants organizations that used Site Mailboxes to shift to using Office 365 Groups instead, the company explained, in a Microsoft Tech Community notice.

Organizations have not been able to create new Site Mailboxes since March. Existing Site Mailboxes created before March continue to work, but Microsoft's notice warned that "over time we will stop support for the product completely." Possibly, that support for existing Site Mailboxes will end next month, which is also when Microsoft had indicated that it planned to deliver a transition solution to move Site Mailboxes to Office 365 Groups.

Microsoft originally gave notice that SharePoint Online Site Mailboxes would get deprecated back in January, according to an Office 365 Admin Center notification that was captured in this Petri.com article by Microsoft MVP Tony Redmond. He outlined options for organizations. For instance, it's possible to use the Exchange Online Shared Mailboxes approach as an alternative to SharePoint Online Shared Mailboxes in some cases, he noted.

Organizations waiting for Microsoft's transition solution for SharePoint Online Site Mailboxes got some encouraging words this week, but no specific rollout date. Here's how Microsoft's announcement explained it:

We understand that we have a lot of customers still actively using site mailboxes and that this deprecation will affect their day to day operations. We assure such customers that we are working on providing a solution for the transition process. By the end of 2017 we will have a process in place which will let you connect your classic experience SharePoint team site to an Office 365 group. As a start, you can check out Use Office 365 Groups instead of Site Mailboxes to know how to move to groups.

Microsoft's document, "Use Office 365 Groups Instead of Site Mailboxes," further explains Microsoft's rationale for the shift to Office 365 Groups. It doesn't say when the transition solution will arrive. However, it does state that a procedure to shift Team Sites to Office 365 Groups is expected to arrive "in November."

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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