Discussing the vision, plans and improvements for this new Office 365 Network.


@Michael Holste kindly agreed to more openly discuss the vision, plans and improvements coming for this new Office 365 Network. I'm sure @Anna Chu and the rest of her team will pitch in. There has been many reactions, reviews and critiques written and discussed since the launch of the Preview of this network. Remember that it is a Preview and it's our opportunity as a community to shape this network into what we want and keep the conversation going. 

So, Mike, Anna and team. What can you share of the vision and future plans for this network, that will help members transition from Yammer to here and grow it? 

  • Will there be a mobile app and when is it likely to be released?
  • What are current and future features of the platform that will help create community? Following, collaborative groups, co-authoring spaces, a feed for all conversations and people I follow...
  • ...What would you ask the Office 365 Network team about it's future and vision?

I realise there is an Ideas forum here and keep posting your ideas. But do ask your questions on this thread too about the future of this network. It helps to keep the conversation together.

60 Replies

I understand that vision is "community + scale." But vision is more than that, for those of us trying to gauge whether this site offers us both means and motive to try to rebuild or freshly build communities we've relied on.


If you're truly going to trim sails out here, make significant vs. incremental changes in direction, please say so. Nobody enjoys me being negative, particularly me; and yet I don't hope for the hell of it; I need reasons.


It may feel awkward for your team to be transparent in acknowledging areas of functionality that aren't great, that won't change soon... that's required for trust. Otherwise I'll feel stuck reading between the lines, and you won't like my conclusions any better than I will! Smiley Happy

The current Office 365 Network on Yammer fostered a new openess between Microsoft and it's customers using the Office 365 platform. It gave us access to Product Group personalities so we could ask questions and discuss the vision of products and features. 

Sometimes the openess meant being transparent about when things failed or didn't turn out as expected. The community appreciated that openess and continued to contribute useful feedback. 

That is the new Microsoft spirit. I hope that this platform can continue to offer the same openess and accessibility to the people and inner workings of Microsoft, where it's not commercially sensitive. 

best response confirmed by Michael Holste (Microsoft)

Thanks for kicking this off. I'll share what I can at the moment and please remember that we have many things in the works. Also, thank you for highlighting that this is in Preview, so many things are subject to change. We wanted our community with us on this journey, and the nearly all of the feedback we've received has (in some way or another) been incorporated into our issues logs, immediate fixes, ongoing fixes, and long-term planning. Many of these features also help bring in even more internal PMMs and Engineering, which will make the network a more valuable place for everyone.


Please keep in mind: This thread is to discuss our plans and improvements for this community on this network. We'll try to share as much as we can. Let's stay positive if possible.


- Will there be a mobile app? As @Jeff Medford noted on the announcement thread on the old site, we are developing a responsive mobile web experience. We are looking at the need for an app, but don't have anything solid to share right now. 


-What are current and future features of the platform that will help create community? Following, collaborative groups, co-authoring spaces, a feed for all conversations and people I follow.. Too much to mention everything, but I will make note of some big ones. 


1. As you can see, I am already using a neat feature here that improves readibility, emphasis and ultimately accuracy of information exchange. Rich text editor! We can embed videos, use bold + italics, <insert code> and even add spoilers. While tangentially related to community, I did want to call this out.


 2. Scale. As many of you know, this community helps us scale and helps us reach the many, many folks who are in the Office 365 Community but not the Office 365 Network. 


 3. Discussion styles. We have numerous ways to have conversations here. Including blogs, boards, idea exchanges (vote on it!), contests. We can pick the right medium for the right time. 


 4. Permissioning. I may have just created that verb. We can set a large number of permissions for the styles in no. 3 so that the right folks can see the right information. We can pin, read-only, set as private, stage things, open things and lock posts. While this has obvious community management benefits, it also helps us find, surface, and promote solutions and discussions, which helps us all. 


5. Search. Try it. The search is powerful and will help new members and unathenticated members discover what they are looking for. If content is king, this is the red carpet. We also have analytics relating to search results (and when no results are shown). This helps us fill gaps in content, documentation, and product needs.


6. Community structure. This helps EVERYONE navigate the network. By having a structure of nested groups, our community now has clearer paths to information and subcommunities. Please note: we are currently working on this structure to surface more information (like the nav menu links) and reduce scrolling, clicks, etc. Please be patient here. 


(Coming Soon).

UserVoice Integration. An integrated way to share your ideas and feedback, all within this community experience. This also means there will be a whole lot more MS engineers patrolling these waters.


UI Improvements. Improving the functionality, look and feel. We’re hearing this feedback loud and clear. We don’t want to hold the release of Preview until the details were hammered out. You’ll see changes every day. Some big, some small.


Events. Have a User Group meeting or other industry-related event you’d like to promote? We’re building an events area and process to help you highlight your events.


Ignite. Big things here. Stay tuned!


Thanks for reading and I am excited for the things to come! There are TONS of other features to make note of, and I'll do my best to respond to as many people as possible, but now we need to get back to work building and improving this network. 


-Mike (Community Team) 

Disappointed at the focus on mobile web. Biggest impediment to making this place a community rather than just a reference (in what I would describe pretty overwhelming feedback)

I'm curious, for transparency sake, how much of that revolves around microsoft doesn't own the lithium platform and the platform doesn't support mobile apps or 3rd party tools (like tapatalk), so microsoft can't really custom develop it?

Some Google searches indicate lithium focus on mobile web only, so seems like microsoft just HAS to follow suit

It's gonna be alot easier to just accept it if it is a truly technical limitation, and not a choice to just ignore it
Are you going to announce new features when they are released so we can provide feedback? I recommend to do it so you can evaluate what we think about them...for me usability is key, so I expect many improvements on that area
I agree, transparency on what's possible or not would be much appreciated

Will give your post more thorough consideration, Mike, I promise. Meanwhile, if search is king... will it find people?


Am I doing it wrong? How do I find people with search?

@Michael Holste wrote:

[..] we are developing a responsive mobile web experience.  [..]

Hey Mike,

quoting you from your message above: By "responsive" I assume that you are talking about different layouts for the destop/tablet/mobile experience as determined by different layouts for each screen/platform.

The current status seems to be that the platform is locked in what I'm guessing is the tablet layout.

Will this change?

@Juan Carlos González Martín wrote:
Are you going to announce new features when they are released so we can provide feedback? I recommend to do it so you can evaluate what we think about them...

To some degree. There are numerous small changes that will go out daily. Some larger bundles will go out as planned updates. Today, you can see we have resized the network and are fixing the hover over card. 



@Juan Carlos González Martín wrote:
...for me usability is key, so I expect many improvements on that area


@Deleted wrote:

Will give your post more thorough consideration, Mike, I promise. Meanwhile, if search is king... will it find people?


Am I doing it wrong? How do I find people with search?

Hey Melanie, I believe I said 'content is king'... but I can help! 


Use the search bar to type in someone's name. Hit enter. Toggle the result to show User. 





Ah. I have become overly reliant on auto-generated results, rather than going to full. Spoiled, I guess.

Melanie - Suggested search will appear, it just doesn't show users as you would think. For instance, if I search "Anna" it will show conversations she has made, but will not bring up the account unless you press "Enter" and toggle to "Users". The suggested results are driven by conversations, posts, and topics. 

@Michael Holste (note: typed @Holste to find you)... what are your plans to enable blogging here? As I think about ways to bring over my content in search-friendly format, I wanted to consider the blog option... But all the clicking I could do here didn't bring up any option to create one.


(Editing because my displayed post didn't seem to show that the @mention was successful... But now this edit option seems to indicate that it was... I am just finishing this cup of coffee, but it's not helping me figure this out.)

Thank you Mike for starting to lay out the future of the network so we can give feedback. One successful way the Yammer network encouraged interaction was use of the app and notifications. It was easy to receive, visit the conversation and respond. Most importantly, you had the mechanism to join an almost live conversation.
Email notifications with full content, that can be replied to meant someone on the move who didn't have the app could participate easily.

What is planned for this new network in regards to notifications that drive conversation? Will the email notifications be reply-able?
Is your team ready to share more about whether or not there will be an app?

I posted this in the Yammer area, not knowing this existed:


As a role model for a highly usable, high volume, I suggest Digital Photography Review ( See as an example.  Usability features I like:

  • Condensed listings (very little wasted space vertically)
  • Threaded listing vs Flat display of posts (easiliy toggled)
  • Last post date/time in thread list, Up votes displayed in thread view, 
  • Dark and Light themes
  • Strong profiles, tagging, Private Messaging
  • Clear replying and easy quoting
  • alerts on threads
  • blocking users
  • strong moderation of clearly defined communities

I know there is no point in talking about the Yammer community going away, so I hope providing examples of good forums and identifying the usability features, you will get some good ideas.  Not sure why I am posting this in the Yammer forum, but there is no "meta" discussion area.


I think the O365 Network (Yammer) has/had a lot of power users. I think a key is going to make a community that works for both the newbies and power users. I think DPreview does that well.


Good luck with this, I hope for some fast evolution!!



At the moment, we are limiting the blogging feature here to our product teams and engineering.


Note on @mentioning ... in 'Quick Reply" you need to type the name. The link will still work and send a notification, but it doesn't search for a user like it does in the 'full' reply. 

What's with the blogging restriction? The reason I'm interested is that I don't see any way to create content in a way that parallels Yammer "Notes" functionality. I'd hoped something in blogs might offer a way to centralize/stream some of the content I'd want to bring over. Similarly, I haven't found anything that parallel's Yammer's view of a user's files / notes, rather than simply an overview of all the conversations.


Is blogging functionality still in config stage? I mean, if we created junk blogs, you could delete them, right?


Or are you thinking you won't open blogs to anyone other than Microsoft, long-term?


I'm still at a loss as to how to format content to bring it over other than vanilla posts, and the clock is ticking, hence my active exploration on this. 

Hey Melanie, the blogging restriction is to prevent thousands and thousands of blogs from individual users. The blogs here will be authored by marketing and engineering.


To accomplish something similar to Notes on Yammer, you can simply make a post. You have a rich text editor here now and attach files as well. If you wanted to centralize info, you could link the posts together (you can edit a post once it's live), making an aggregation similar to our Weekly Roundups. You could also post them in reply to each other. Another work around is to add a unique message tag. Search will pick up the most relevant documents around terms and a unique tag would group your content together.


We don't have any plans at the moment to give everyone blogging rights. 




Mike, help me understand the approach here. I don't see it as black-or-white. Are you hamstrung by code such that you can't offer individual users the right to blog?


In the earliest days of the community, when you badly need people to engage and quality content for people to consume, why would you not enable blogs by the people most passionate about your platform? 


I have to assume that if you didn't like the blog or even an individual post, you would have rights to kill it. What's the risk here? That there's some minimal community management in the earliest days of a community struggling for establishment?


I'm not asking you for universal blog rights in some future 10-million-person platform.


I'm asking you for a blog. In a preview platform with less than, what, 1,500 posts right now?