Thinking about hosting your public web site on Office 365? Here's what you should know… 

Tags: SharePoint, SharePoint 2010, SharePoint 2013, Cloud computing

Have you been tempted by Microsoft's latest Office 365 packages which now include a public-facing Internet web site for your organization? I know I have. We currently use our on-premises SharePoint Server to host our public site, and I wanted to see if moving the site to Office 365 Web Site offering was viable.

Video: Video: Get started with the Public Website

Office 365's video demo of the web site editing process looked really compelling at first, but what we needed to know is whether it had the SharePoint publishing features we've grown to depend on for our web content management. We've made really heavy use of some awesome SharePoint features in our web site including:

  • Publishing pages
  • Content types
  • Workflow
  • Language variations
  • Sub sites

To make a long story short, we could not use the Office 365 Web Site feature for our public site. I found this really handy table (see below) comparing Microsoft's SharePoint Online Website offering with SharePoint Server's web content management capabilities. Turns out there were some pretty critical gaps. So at least for now, our web site has to stay out of Office 365.

Feature name

SharePoint Online Website SharePoint Server Internet

Feature summary

Browser-based page editing checkmark checkmark Create and edit web pages using just a web browser
Publishing pages checkmark checkmark Use SharePoint publishing pages with drafts, revisions, and so on
Master pages and layouts checkmark checkmark Access to master pages and publishing page layouts
Design Manager checkmark checkmark Advanced web design tools used to create, customize websites. (See note.)
Composed looks checkmark checkmark Gallery of themes that can be applied and then modified for the website
Term-based navigation checkmark checkmark Website navigation is based on SharePoint term sets
Friendly URLs checkmark checkmark Easy to read URLs that describe the page (like
Image renditions checkmark checkmark Render an image in different ways based on image templates
SEO settings checkmark checkmark Optimize the site’s appearance in public search engine results
Hosted online checkmark   Website is online, in the cloud at all times, no uploading required
Public website features checkmark   More themes, site features, social media, embedded CSS, and so on
Marketplace apps checkmark   Ability to browse and install website apps from the SharePoint Marketplace
Site address, domain tools checkmark   Online tools to manage your website address (URL) and domain names
External sharing checkmark   Ability to securely share the site with external reviewers and designers
Publishing templates   checkmark Site templates you can use to create a new Internet-facing website
Sub-sites, site hierarchies   checkmark Ability to create hierarchies of sub-sites that make up the website
Content types, columns, fields   checkmark Reusable collections of metadata for categories of items or documents.
Search features   checkmark Customizable search with query rules, result sources, and result types
List and library Web Parts   checkmark Ability to add list or library Web Parts to a page with custom views
Content Search Web Parts   checkmark Applies styling and rendering to dynamic content in SharePoint
Cross-site publishing   checkmark Supports multiple site collections with content reuse and delivery
Variations, translations   checkmark Syncs content from a source location to other locations by audience
Catalog pages   checkmark Renders search-based catalog content on publishing pages
Business Connectivity Services   checkmark Integrate external data sources and services into the site
Publishing workflows   checkmark Create and customize workflows that controls when content is published
Analytics processing, recommendations   checkmark Add and configure personal usage events and generate reports from it


Source: Websites in SharePoint Online and SharePoint Server

Posted by Eugene Rosenfeld on 18-Sep-13
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