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Information about changes to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature in Office 365

INTRODUCTION
This article contains information about changes to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature in Office 365. We will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.
MORE INFORMATION
Starting January 2015, Microsoft is making changes to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature. Customers who currently use this feature will continue to have access to the feature for a minimum of two years after the changeover date of March 9, 2015. New customers who subscribe to Office 365 after the changeover date won't have access to this feature. Moving forward, Office 365 customers will have access to industry-leading third-party offerings that will enable them to have a public website that provides a complete online solution and presence.
Why is Microsoft making this change?
As part of the evolution of the Office 365 service, we periodically evaluate the capabilities of the service to make sure that we’re delivering the utmost value to customers. After careful consideration, we concluded that for public websites, Office 365 customers would be better served by third-party providers whose core competency is public websites. Therefore, we’ve made the difficult decision to discontinue the SharePoint Online Public Website feature so that we can focus our efforts and investments on delivering capabilities in Office 365 that will bring more value to our customers.
What does this mean for existing Office 365 customers?
Currently, the SharePoint Online Public Websites feature is primarily used by a small percentage of our Office 365 customers for their own external-facing websites. Office 365 customers who currently use the SharePoint Online Public Website feature will continue to have access to the feature for a minimum of two years after the changeover date of March 9, 2015. Moving forward, these customers will have the option of subscribing to third-party solutions for public website functionality. These customers should plan to move to one of the third-party solutions within the next two years.
What does this mean for new Office 365 customers?
As of the changeover date of March 9, 2015, Microsoft will no longer offer the SharePoint Online Public Website feature to new customers. New customers who subscribe to Office 365 after the changeover date won't have access to this feature. Instead, they'll have the option to subscribe to third-party solutions by using links from Office 365.
How will this change be communicated to Office 365 customers?
All Office 365 administrators who have provisioned SharePoint Online will receive a notification of this change in the Office 365 Message center.

Overview of third-party offerings

What is the third-party solution offering?
Office 365 customers will have access to tools and services that are provided directly from leading partners in the public website industry for building and managing an online presence. These offerings will be available to all Office 365 customers but are designed specifically to improve the experience for small and medium-sized businesses that need either a basic online presence or a complete web experience.
Who will be providing the third-party offerings?
More information about the third-party offerings is available at the following Microsoft website:
How does the new third-party solution offering compare with existing SharePoint Online public sites?
The existing SharePoint Online Public Website feature was designed for customers who need only a basic online presence. These new offerings will provide more robust tools and solutions that are needed for delivering, supporting, and managing a complete online presence.
Will other options be available in the future?
As part of the evolution of the Office 365 service, we will continue to evaluate the capabilities of the service and other third-party options to make sure that we are delivering the utmost value to our customers.
Where can I learn more about these third-party solution providers, their experience, and their capabilities?
More information about the third-party solutions will be available directly from the providing partners. Links will be provided in the Office 365 experience and will direct Office 365 customers to external websites where they'll see the special offers for Office 365 customers. These websites are managed by the partners and will provide details about their solutions, their experience, and their capabilities.
What discounts or incentives are provided with these third-party solution offerings for Office 365 customers?
The specific offer details will vary by partner and market. Customers will see the offering details when they follow the links that are provided in Office 365.
Will I receive these discounts if I have an Office 365 trial subscription?
Specific offers and discounts are available to all Office 365 customers. This includes those who use an Office 365 trial subscription. Offer terms and details will vary by partner and market.
Will these solutions be integrated within the Office 365 experience?
Links will be made available within the Office 365 experience for accessing the third-party solutions. These links will direct Office 365 customers to externally managed websites and processes for accessing, managing, and setting up a public website. This experience is designed and managed by the providing partner and is separate from the Office 365 experience. Two in-product screen shots are provided at the bottom of this section. They showcase the Office 365 experience and level of integration for organizations with and without the SharePoint Online Public Website feature.
Subscriptions with the SharePoint Online Public Website featureScreen shot of the subscription that has the SharePoint Online Public Website feature
New subscriptions without the SharePoint Online Public Website featureScreen shot of new subscriptions without the SharePoint Online Public Website feature
Will Microsoft provide training content or documentation for these new offerings?
No. Content and documentation about these new offerings will be owned and managed by the third-party solution providers. However, Microsoft is committed to making sure that a seamless and complete experience for Office 365 customers exists, and will continue to monitor these offerings and address any gaps as needed.
When will the links to these solutions be available in my Office 365 admin center?
General availability started in January 2015 and will follow a rolling release process. Therefore, specific availability and timing will vary by market and geography.
Which countries and languages will be available at release?
At release, most of the Office 365 customer base and underlying markets will be supported. For more information, go to the following Microsoft website:
Whom do I contact for support for the third-party solutions?
Support is provided by the third-party solution providers and can be accessed by following your selected partner’s existing support contact information. Review your selected partner’s support page for contact details.

Implications for new customers

Will the price for affected Office 365 offers be reduced?
No. This change is aligned with our commitment to deliver a superior productivity experience in Office 365 and won't affect the pricing of Office 365. The third-party solutions will be offered at discounted pricing rates for Office 365 customers, where available.

Can I use other website hosting services, or do I have to use one of the third-party solution providers that Microsoft provides links for?
Customers can use any website hosting service and aren't limited to the third-party solutions that are provided in Office 365. However, the third-party solutions that are available in Office 365 will be offered at discounted rates to Office 365 customers, where available.

What if I'm using my Public Website to share content with anonymous users?
If you’re using your Public Website for anonymous access to content and need an alternative solution for the future change, go to the following Microsoft website for more information about sharing content anonymously from your SharePoint Online sites:

Implications for existing customers

What do the new third-party offerings mean for customers who already use the SharePoint Online Public Website feature?
Office 365 customers who currently use the SharePoint Online Public Website feature will continue to have access to the feature for a minimum of two years after the changeover date of March 9, 2015. Moving forward, customers should plan to move to one of the third-party solutions that are offered or to a different solution of their choice.
How does a customer enable the SharePoint Online Public Website feature?
Customers who want to enable the SharePoint Online Public Website feature or would prefer to maintain access to the feature for two years after the changeover date must meet the following criteria:
  • You have a SharePoint Online subscription.
  • You signed in to Office 365 as an administrator for the organization.
What is our guidance for customers who now use the SharePoint Online Public Website feature?
Customers can continue to use and develop their existing sites for a minimum of two years after the changeover date of March 9, 2015. During that time, existing customers should plan to move to one of the third-party solutions that are offered or to a different solution of their choice.
When will the existing SharePoint Online Public Website feature be discontinued?
Microsoft will support the SharePoint Online Public Website feature for existing customers who are using the feature for a minimum of two years after the changeover date of March 9, 2015. In accordance with our policy about significant service changes, we provide at least one year of notice before we make any significant changes to the Office 365 service.
I use the existing SharePoint Online Public Website feature. How do I switch to one of the new third-party solutions?
You can migrate your SharePoint Online Public Website to a partner website. For more information, go to the following Microsoft website:
Will customers or users lose any content while they make the transition?
All migration of content and data is currently a manual process and must be completed by the customer. To avoid disruption and data loss, customers should back up all content and data from the SharePoint Online Public Website feature before they switch to any new solution or service. This will minimize potential disruptions.
Will existing customers see price changes after these changes?
This change is aligned with our commitment to delivering a superior productivity experience in Office 365 and won't affect the pricing of Office 365. The third-party solutions will be offered with discounted rates.

I have subscriptions to Office 365, but I haven't activated SharePoint Online yet. Will I still have access to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature after this change?
No. In order to be considered an existing user of the SharePoint Online Public Website feature and to maintain access for two years following the changeover date of March 9, 2015, you have to activate your SharePoint Online subscription by the changeover date.

Third-party information disclaimer

The third-party products that this article discusses are manufactured by companies that are independent of Microsoft. Microsoft makes no warranty, implied or otherwise, about the performance or reliability of these products.


Still need help? Go to the Office 365 Community website.
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Article ID: 3027254 - Last Review: 04/23/2015 15:53:00 - Revision: 10.0

Microsoft SharePoint Online

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