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It seems like organizations had only just got used to the idea of SharePoint 2017 when Microsoft is telling them that it’s time to start looking at upgrades again. At its Ignite conference in September, the Redmond, Washington based giant announced that the new 2019 versions of SharePoint would be go into preview in the middle of next year. SharePoint, though, is the not the only Microsoft productivity story. Over the past year there has also been a lot of movement in the Office 365 space most of it designed to tighten up the different apps available through Office 365, as well as offering users more functionality and more capabilities.

In this respect, voice, IM and video calling are likely to be a big part of the SharePoint/Office 365 story in 2018 with Microsoft already working on replacing Skype for Business with Microsoft Teams. That's in the future, though, and over the past year we haven’t’ been short of things to talk about. Here are our CMSWire's top 10 SharePoint and Office 365 stories of 2017:

10. Is Microsoft Teams the 'Portal' We've Been Looking For?

On day one of Microsoft Ignite, the company announced its Teams collaboration product would become the “hero client” for all communications functionality in Office 365 going forward.

Teams will subsume the functionality of Skype for Business for Office 365 users, bringing voice, video calling and even plain old telephone services under the Teams umbrella. If your company isn't all-in on Office 365, Microsoft promised a new version of the Skype for Business server. At this point I am assuming the current Skype for Business client software will remain available to enterprises not on Office 365, but that wasn't spelled out in the announcement.

9. Developing a Digital Workplace Strategy for SharePoint

Shifting to a digital workplace is as much about a cultural change as it is about technology. Most companies have the tools and systems in place to move from an email and document-centric model to a digital workplace, but fail to recognize the process changes that come with this shift in work habits. 

8. How SharePoint Communication Sites Impact Governance

Microsoft recently released SharePoint communication sites for Office 365 which enable organizations to quickly create great looking sites that can communicate information through a combination of images, static and dynamic content.

For many organizations, the ability to create SharePoint communication sites without the need for IT is a huge win. The hope is that features like this will help organizations use SharePoint as more than just a document repository, but a full-fledged corporate communications platform.

7. Is Office 365 Going to Eat Your Lunch?

It’s no secret Microsoft has been trying to take over the workplace for a while now — just ask WordPerfect.  But with the advent of Office 365, it appears to be taking this to a whole new level. The potential number of capabilities and technology domains Microsoft has the ability to own (or at least try to) with the Office 365 stack is huge, and the moves it's making suggest it's gunning for at least some of them right now.

6. SharePoint Emerges From Its Ugly Duckling Phase

Two moments summarized Microsoft's May 17 SharePoint Virtual Summit for Sam Marshall. One was a quote from SharePoint VP Jeff Teper, "Intranets aren't just a project for some people, and it’s a career." This was followed by a discussion about how people felt they could make a positive impact in their company by driving the digital workplace

The second was during a demonstration by Naomi Moneypenny, senior product manager at Microsoft, where she copied a table in Word and pasted it into SharePoint without the layout fouling up. This received whoops and applause like it was a glimpse into Utopia.

5. Mark Your Calendars: Microsoft Announces Mid-2018 SharePoint 2019 Release

On day two of Ignite, Microsoft announced plans to release preview versions of Office 2019 and SharePoint Server 2019 by 2018. According to Jared Spataro, general manager for Microsoft Office, the preview edition of SharePoint Server 2019 will be out by the middle of the year. Spataro didn't divulge any further details about the upcoming release. According to a number of SharePoint professionals contacted by CMSWire, this is the first time a specific time frame has been given for the product, even if everyone knew it was on the way.

4. SharePoint Intranets: To Buy, To Build or To Wait?

Over the last two years, organizations have dramatically changed how they approach creating new intranets on SharePoint. Instead of partnering with a development agency, they are looking for ready-made, easily adaptable and quickly deployable solutions. Products such as Interchange, LiveTiles, Powell 365, Unily and Wizdom offer businesses a fast-track start.

3. Office 365 for Mac: You've Come a Long Way, Baby

The relationship between Microsoft applications and services on macOS (formerly OS X) over the years can be described as shaky at best. It epitomizes the up and down relationship between the two companies. But lately things seem to be changing for the better. When Satya Nadella took over as Microsoft CEO three years ago, he brought with him a renewed desire to see Microsoft thrive on all platforms and contexts. Under his watch, Microsoft has renewed its commitment to macOS.

2. Microsoft Integrates Power BI in SharePoint Online

Microsoft made another significant step in pulling SharePoint Online deeper into the wider Office 365 productivity suite early in the year. In a little remarked-upon announcement on the Power BI blog, Senior Program Manager Lukasz Pawlowski announced the availability of the Power BI report web part for SharePoint Online. SharePoint Online enterprises will now be able to take Power BI content and pull it up directly in SharePoint.

1. Microsoft Teams and Yammer: Why the Two Are Fundamentally Different

Ever since Teams launched late last year, many people have found it difficult to understand the difference between Teams and Yammer, and to establish where each platform fits in the Microsoft collaboration ecosystem. Several thought-leaders have offered their advice on the matter.

People work in different modes. Some tasks and responsibilities rest on the shoulders of individuals, some on teams and some on groups These differences make up a great deal of the different requirements for collaboration software and they are the reason why there is no “one size fits all” tool.