Microsoft to axe SharePoint Online Public Website service next month

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Microsoft has announced it is shutting down its SharePoint Online Public Website service, effective January 2015.

“Starting in January 2015, Microsoft is making changes to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature,” a statement from Microsoft reads.

“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.”

“Today, we’re making a difficult decision to discontinue the SharePoint Online Public Website feature. This lets us then focus on future investments while broadening our partnership with industry leaders.”

The Redmond’s SMB site-building offering allowed Office 365 users to create public-facing websites in SharePoint and customise it with in-browser tools. Its features include custom domain names, search engine optimization tools, social media integration and search-friendly URLs.

While existing sites will remain alive for two years, Office 365 customers will have the option to subscribe to third-party solutions for public website functionality. “Customers should plan to move to third-party solution within the next two years,” Microsoft said.

The company has assured that it will help users access third party tools and services to build and manage their “online presence.”

Furthermore, the Redmond will no longer accept sign-up for SharePoint Online Public Websites beginning next month. However, new customers who subscribe to Office 365 after the changeover date won’t have access to the SharePoint Online Public Website feature; instead, they will have the option to subscribe to third-party solutions by using links from Office 365.

The software giant is expected to announce more details about third-party solutions in January 2015. Office 365 Message Center will notify current customers of the change.