The Best Office 365 Features Released & Announced in 2017

Best Office 365 features from 2017

The Best Office 365 Features Released & Announced in 2017

By Tracy van der Schyff | January 18, 2018

Keep in mind: This is my list of best Office 365 features released and announced in 2017. If you ask 10 people, you’ll most likely get 10 different answers.

That being said, let’s see what I got really excited about in 2017 around Office 365. (This does not include all the cool stuff in Microsoft Office, which we’ll look at soon in another post.)

SharePoint Communication Sites

This has to be my all-time favourite. The SharePoint Communication Site template changed the way we build Intranets, and it made it so much easier.

Now, we have the ability to build a basic Intranet in minutes, and then train end users to update their own content and pages. The SharePoint Communication sites are not only fully responsive, they include the Newsfeed on mobile devices. This is truly a game changer.

Topic, Showcase, and Blank Designs also allow you to customize your Intranet or Team site on SharePoint Online.

 SharePoint Communication Sites

Web Parts for SharePoint Online Sites

In addition to the many Web Parts that have been updated, new ones were also added.

New Web Parts include:

  • Planner
  • Microsoft Forms
  • Group Calendar
  • File Viewer
  • Twitter
  • Spacer & Divider

Updated Web Parts include:

  • Yammer
  • Image
  • Text
  • People
  • Events
  • Highlighted content

SharePoint Hub Sites

Though announced in 2017, SharePoint Hub Sites will be available in 2018. And it’s definitely worth mentioning since it will greatly influence your site architecture and planning. Now, we’ll be able to identify a hub site and associate various Team and Communication Sites with it.

Think of how we used to build SharePoint Sites in a hierarchical way to create relationships. In a way, we were forced to build subsites to allow us to have common navigation, search schemas, logos, branding, and aggregation of news and activities.

Hub Sites enables us to do all of that, but across various site collections. A site can also be “disconnected” at any time to support organization changes. However, if you’ve never had to build identity and relationships across site collections, you won’t really understand how many issues this resolves. (All I can say is, “Thank you Microsoft!”)

SharePoint Hub Sites

Column Formatting in SharePoint

The way SharePoint displays data in a list or library has always been painful for end users, especially when you’re trying to convince them to use a SharePoint list rather than an Excel spreadsheet. The answer is always the same: “Where’s my conditional formatting? And how will I make sense of my data?”

With this addition, users can add formatting features by going into the column settings and adding a JSON reference.

The following column types support column formatting:

  • Single line of text
  • Number
  • Choice
  • Person or Group
  • Yes/No
  • Hyperlink
  • Picture
  • Date/Time
  • Lookup
  • Title (in Lists)

The following are not currently supported:

  • Managed metadata
  • Filename (in Document Libraries)
  • Calculated
  • Retention Label

Standard list:
Standard list on SharePoint

Formatted columns with a bar showing size and colors to indicate statuses:
Formatted columns on SharePoint

File Viewers for OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online

File viewers allow organizations to view over 270 different file formats online in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint. Previously, we could not open files if the desktop application for the specific file was not installed. This addition will save a lot of time by simplifying the collaboration and sharing around these files.
 File Viewers on SharePoint
Here is a list of some of the file types that now support viewing online in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint.


csv, doc, docm, docx, dotx, eml, msg, odp, ods, odt, pdf, pot, potm, potx, pps, ppsx, ppt, pptm, pptx, rtf, vsd, vsdx, xls, xlsb, xlsm, xlsx


ai, arw, bmp, cr2, eps, erf, gif, ico, icon, jpeg, jpg, mrw, nef, orf, pict, png, psd, tif, tiff


3gp, m4v, mov, mp4, wmv


3mf, fbx, obj, ply, stl


dcm, dcm30, dic, dicm, dicom

Text and code:

abap, ada, adp, ahk, as, as3, asc, ascx, asm, asp, awk, bash, bash_login, bash_logout, bash_profile, bashrc, bat, bib, bsh, build, builder, c, c++, capfile, cc, cfc, cfm, cfml, cl, clj, cls, cmake, cmd, coffee, cpp, cpt, cpy, cs, cshtml, cson, csproj, css, ctp, cxx, d, ddl, di, dif, diff, disco, dml, dtd, dtml, el, emakefile, erb, erl, f, f90, f95, fs, fsi, fsscript, fsx, gemfile, gemspec, gitconfig, go, groovy, gvy, h, h++, haml, handlebars, hbs, hcp, hh, hpp, hrl, hs, htc, hxx, idl, iim, inc, inf, ini, inl, ipp, irbrc, jade, jav, java, js, jsp, jsx, l, less, lhs, lisp, log, lst, ltx, lua, m, make, markdn, markdown, md, mdown, mkdn, ml, mli, mll, mly, mm, mud, nfo, opml, osascript, out, p, pas, patch, php, php2, php3, php4, php5, phtml, pl, plist, pm, pod, pp, profile, properties, ps1, pt, py, pyw, r, rake, rb, rbx, rc, re, readme, reg, rest, resw, resx, rhtml, rjs, rprofile, rpy, rss, rst, rxml, s, sass, scala, scm, sconscript, sconstruct, script, scss, sgml, sh, shtml, sml, sql, sty, tcl, tex, text, textile, tld, tli, tmpl, tpl, txt, vb, vi, vim, wsdl, xhtml, xml, xoml, xsd, xsl, xslt, yaml, yaws, yml, zsh

OneDrive – Zip File Support & Files on Demand

In the webview, you’ll be able to open the zip file and only extract the files you need.

One of the challenges with getting users to use OneDrive has been the number of files that are synced to their desktops. You might have 1TB or unlimited storage in the cloud, but this does not represent the storage size of your computer. Files on demand allows us to view all of our files on our laptop, but be selective about which files it must download. (Genius, I’d say.)

New Sharing Controls from Windows Explorer

The sharing experience in Windows Explorer is being updated to represent the experience we have in the web when sharing content on OneDrive and SharePoint.

Photo intelligence (Auto tagging, OCR) and Metadata

With this new feature, OneDrive will be able to scan and automatically tag people and do text extraction from our photos. This will lighten the burden of expense claims for sure!

Audio Conferencing Preview in Microsoft Teams

Audio conferencing is now available in the public preview in Microsoft Teams.


There are hundreds of features and announcements that are currently changing the way organizations work and enable user productivity. As we move into the new year, it’s important to stay on top of the collaboration landscape and assess what your organization can do to stay up-to-date with its collaboration platform.

Let Metalogix help you with all of your Office 365 migration, management, and security needs. Check out a free 15-day trial of Essentials for Office 365 and see how you can supercharge your collaboration strategy in the new year.

Additional resources to check out:

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Tracy van der Schyff

Tracy is a Microsoft MVP and an energetic, hyperactive adrenaline junkie who sees challenges and issues as opportunities and thrives on improving processes, environments and the general quality of life. Her broad knowledge about IT and Business gives her the ability to communicate on both levels and convey meaningful requirements and narrow the (ever present) gap between the two.

Written By: Tracy van der Schyff