Microsoft Announces Release of a New Version of SharePoint Online

Public announcements about products should be carefully timed and composed. Press releases, public appearances by company executives and even marketplace opinion pieces must all be closely coordinated with a product brand. Marketing communications efforts must adhere to the same guidelines.

But an apparent announcement by Microsoft® of a release of a new version of SharePoint Online, surprised us.

We maintain an Office 365 Enterprise E3 Plan account and recently completely a migration (actually, the migration occurred on April 6, 2013) to a new version of SharePoint Online. Our user interface is now consistent with SharePoint 2013, on premises. So what is this announcement all about?

Mystery can certainly be used to build market anticipation for a product. But the mystery enveloping yet another “new release” to a recently implemented “new release” for SharePoint Online, confused us. We expect lots of other SharePoint Online customers will experience the same confusion. Especially when the uncertain nature of the timing of the upgrade is factored in.

We think the public relations team could have done a better job at managing the public announcement of this “upgrade”. Unfortunately, this gaffe occurred soon after a couple of much more encouraging public announcements from Microsoft, which lead us to think (the prior two posts to this blog treated these announcements) the company had substantially, and successfully renovated its public relations strategy.

Reading the announcement on the Office 365 Blog, an article on the Redmond Mag web site, and some other opinions, we could not help but think how much better the announcement could have been handled by simply one spokesperson. A carefully composed notice, with specific details differentiating May’s “upgrade” from April’s “upgrade” would have been helpful.

Early stage ISVs grappling with how best to handle public relations can learn a lot from studying the activities of Microsoft’s PR team over the last month.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2013 All Rights Reserved

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