2015 was a year of transition for Microsoft. 

It was a transition to embody the "Cloud First" promise of acting like a smaller company: iterating features at a faster pace and opening communications directly to users. And we can see signs of that evolution in Microsoft's online roadmap.

Guiding Success

The roadmap isn't new, but the level of transparency within it is. This transparency represents lessons learned from Yammer’s client facing communications strategies. 

In this roadmap, Microsoft provides insight into canceled features, features in development, what's rolling out, what’s been released in preview and what has been successfully launched. The announcements offer a granularity of insight that would have been uncommon from the company even two years ago. 

Previously, only a very small circle of people within Microsoft were aware of the features that were being worked on for the next release (three years later). Now these features are being designed to be smaller steps, more rapidly deployed than ever before.

For example, the listing below for the Office 365 Roadmap. At first glance, it seems like a simple activity for Office 365 functionality, but when you open the filters you see that the features covered are across Apps (i.e. Outlook, Word, Sway), Services (i.e. SharePoint, Exchange) and Across Platforms (i.e. Online, iPhone).

Office 365 Customer Success Center

Opening one of the sections offers even deeper, though varying, degrees of granularity. 

When an item like Office 365 Video is launched you’re given a brief overview and a link to the feature’s website to gain full details of it’s features. Right below it, however, you have the granularity of a specific feature request, Office 365 Video — Embed, that is only a small piece of its parent and thoroughly described when expanded. These different levels of features allow us to view the different focus areas within the Office 365 world.

Spotting the Trends

Microsoft successfully delivering features is not a breakthrough for the company, but the roadmap reveals a dedication to the iterative development and a commitment to listening to end users. The roadmap offers a self-service portal for users to inform themselves on new items in development, and timeframes for new features that will affect you and your company.

As organizations start utilizing the features available in Office and Office 365, they will be able to provide even more feedback than today. I predict we'll see a much bigger roadmap over the next 12 months and the transition to the ‘Cloud First’ culture will become a reality.

Title image by Sylwia Bartyzel