Microsoft outlines plans to refresh SharePoint's UX and add Copilot AI capabilities

May 2, 2023
Microsoft's 22-year-old SharePoint platform will be getting a number of sharing, authoring, video and AI capabilities through early 2024. OneDrive is getting some UX changes, too
A montage of new SharePoint brand center text and imagery

Microsoft is giving its SharePoint content-management platform a number of new features, including Copilot AI capabilities, starting in the next few months and continuing through early 2024. Microsoft officials updated the SharePoint roadmap on May 2 at the Microsoft 365 Conference in Las Vegas.

Microsoft's goal with the SharePoint refresh is four-fold, officials said: To enable simpler authoring; the creation of better-looking sites, pages and videos; new integrations into email, Teams and Viva; and the ability to tailor SharePoint sites to specific workflows and applications using templates, the SharePoint Framework and Microsoft Graph application programming interfaces (APIs). In short, the company is looking to AI and other changes to help users design and develop sites themselves, which could take some of the load off IT and ‘super-users’ in business units.”

As it has done for almost every Microsoft 365 app since earlier this year, Microsoft is planning to add Copilot AI capabilities to SharePoint. The Copilot AI functionality will help users create customizable sites and pages more simply and quickly, execs said. They said users could use a prompt such as "Create an employee onboarding site for Product Managers and use this Onboarding PowerPoint to get started," to set up a SharePoint site, for example.

A preview of SharePoint Copilot will be available before year-end, according to Microsoft. (Microsoft still has not revealed Microsoft 365 Coplot pricing or licensing but did say recently that the model would likely be very similar to what's in place with GitHub Copilot.)

SharePoint users also will be able to coauthor SharePoint pages with team members using the Fluid Framework technology that underlies the Microsoft Loop functionality. A new Brand Center in SharePoint will allow users to specify fonts, colors, logos and other design elements that are connected to customers' own organizations. Updates to the Microsoft Streamvideo web part will allow users to stream all types of video inside their pages.

According to a roadmap slide, Microsoft plans to make available the new Stream web part, page sharing, news in Outlook and advanced image editing in the next few months. During the fall, the content pane for page authoring, new SharePoint Start and video pages will be coming. And by the end of the year, in addition the preview of Copilot in SharePoint, Microsoft also will make available design ideas for page sections and Brand Center. Page coauthoring preview and general availability are slated for early 2024.

In other Microsoft 365 Conference news today, Microsoft also announced plans to revamp OneDrive for work and school accounts. Of course, there's an AI angle here: The new OneDrive Home experience includes a "For You" area with "AI-powered file recommendations" that officials said will be "coming soon." (There seems to be a Microsoft edict that every single product and service announcement MUST mention AI somehow.)

A new OneDrive Shared experience, providing users with a way to see all files shared with them in a single place will roll out later this quarter. A People view, which organizes files by the people someone is working with is coming "later this year," as is a view organizing all meetings, along with chats, notes, and Loops in a single experience.

On the admin front, Microsoft also made a few OneDrive and SharePoint administration and security announcements. SharePoint Data Access Governance Insight is now generally available, allowing users to see the top sites that are overshared and take actions on them. Microsoft also made restricted access control policy for SharePoint sites generally available, which allows organizations to restrict access to any SharePoint site, even if it's connected with Teams or Microsoft 365 Groups. Microsoft also is making a preview of SharePoint cross-tenant content migration available which will enable new scenarios like mergers and acquisitions.