At the SharePoint Conference, March 2014, we saw a sneak peak of what was then called the Office 365 Video Portal. That's quite some time ago. The waiting is finally over because today (November 18, 2014), Office 365 Video is released and will begin rolling out to customers with the First Release option enabled in their Office 365 tenants over the coming weeks.
Thanks to my MVP status, I was lucky enough to play with Office 365 Video before the official release. In this article, I will describe my experiences with the video portal from both an end user and administrator perspective.
Welcome to Office 365 Video
The first time you open the video portal you receive a friendly welcome message. Simply click Let's go.
The Office 365 Video homepage shows an overview of highlighted videos, popular videos and three video channels.
To play a video, just click a thumbnail and the video starts playing.
The video comes with default metadata including the title, description, uploaded date, number of views and the corresponding channel. Unfortunately, you can't create custom metadata and attach these to your videos. But because the videos are stored in SharePoint Online document libraries, we can guess and hope that this feature will be available in the future.
The video portal provides suggestions for related videos from the corresponding channel under the header You may also like.
I hope we get to see videos from other channels in the future based on metadata, social data such as job title, expertise or skill, or data from Office Graph.
In this first release, videos don't come with an embed code so you can't display these at other SharePoint Online sites.
All the videos are displayed within a video channel. You can view all the available channels by clicking Channels.
Personally, I find the available list of channels a bit boring and static. When customers can add a picture per channel, that will make things a lot more interactive. I do like the homepage of a channel.
The channel starts with a selection of highlighted videos and three views:
These purpose of these views are very self explanatory. Unfortunately, you aren't able to create additional views.
Each video comes with a call-out menu to preview the video.
A popular video portal will contain a lot of videos. Click the spyglass at the left top of the screen to search for videos.
The following screenshot shows an example of video search results.
You can use the available refiners to quickly find the video you are looking for.
The administration and configuration of the video portal
The content and look & feel of the video portal is based at uploading videos and configuring the channels. The admin side of the video portal is really easy.
Create a channel
Let's create a new channel:
- Go to the homepage of all the channels and click New Channel at the right side of the page:
- Give the channel a name and your favorite color. Click Create to create the channel:
- You can now upload new videos by clicking Upload Videos. Select the video from your local drive and its starts uploading automatically. After uploading the video, the processing of the video starts:
- During this process you have time to enter a title and description. You do not have to wait for the processing to end. You can click F5 after one minute to enter these properties. Click Save to save the video.
Users with permissions to view this channel can now view your video.
Modify settings of a channel
A channel admin has the ability to change the settings of a channel:
- Click the cog icon to open the site actions menu:
- Choose Video channel settings and you'll see three options available: General, Permissions and Spotlight.
You can select videos you want to highlight at the homepage of the channel. Click a spotlight number and select a video:
- General settings allow you to change the name and color of the channel.
- Permissions settings allow you to configure the admin(s) of the channel and the visitors.
- The last option, Spotlight, is very interesting:
Awesome! You now have a really nice looking and interactive channel Home page. Office 365 Videos has only one spotlight template available. Hopefully Microsoft will release additional templates in the near future.
The video portal admin can also change the permissions of the portal:
You can appoint admins for the Home page and channels. The Spotlight page allows you to configure the look & feel of the overall video portal Home page:
Apart from picking the highlighted videos, you pick three popular channels or channels you want to highlight in your Home page.
While I was writing this article there weren't any mobile apps available for the video portal. The first version of the video portal uses Adobe Flash to play the videos. All the mobile devices that support Adobe Flash are able to play the videos within the native browser. Most of you probably know that Apple isn't a fan of Adobe Flash and doesn't support it. An app for the iPad and iPhone is scheduled to be released quickly.
My first experiences with the video are positive but I am still a bit reserved at the moment. I really like the user experience of the portal but there are some shortcomings:
- Can't assign custom metadata to videos
- No embed code available
- Can't create custom views for a channel
- Channel overview page is static and boring
- Spotlight menu only comes with one template
- 2 GB upload limit per video
Summarizing these points, I realize that this is the first release of Office 365 Video. The release can be compared with Office 365 Groups, which means its the first chapter and new features will be released in the future. I advise that you take a look at your requirements for a video portal. Does the current version match your requirements? Go for it! Doesn't match your requirements? Don't use the video portal and wait for a future release.
I also want to emphasize that the video portal is only for internal use, so forget about your ambitions for creating a new YouTube. All the users need to have an Office 365 license.
Do you want to learn more about the video portal? Click here for the official Office support page. My fellow IT Unity author, Jennifer, spoke at TechEd Europe about the video portal. Click here to view the recording and the slide deck. The session contains a lot of valuable information about the architecture behind the portal.
Are you excited to start working with Office 365 Video? Activate the First Release feature in your Office 365 tenant, and the feature will roll out to your tenant over the coming weeks!