A New Edition
We launched the first edition of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago in May 2015. At that time, the book was called Office 365 for Exchange Professionals and it was some 600 pages long. Indeed, it was short enough for Microsoft to print 500 copies for distribution to Ignite attendees.
Progress Since 2015
Like Office 365, we’ve come a long way in three years. The 4th edition has grown to 1,150 pages and covers much more than Exchange Online. In 2015, it was natural to focus on Exchange at the start because email was, by far, the biggest workload within Office 365. Things are different now and we’ve seen the advent of applications like Teams and Planner and the growing popularity of SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. To match this change, we have invested enormous effort to transform and expand coverage to the current position. As we transformed, we continued to focus on giving administrators insight into how Office 365 works the way that it does, with lots of practical examples of how to solve common deployment and management issues.
We published the 4th edition on June 1, 2017. We are now approaching the release of the 5th edition in early July 2018. The 2019 in the title refers to Microsoft’s 2018-2019 fiscal year (usually called FY19), which begins on July 1. When the 5th edition is available, we will stop updating the 4th edition. The 4th edition will remain online until October 1, 2018 to allow people who bought this edition to update their copies with the latest files.
Apart from being able to restructure the book to reflect developments inside Office 365, one of the reasons why we create new versions is to bring new authors into the writing team.
After four editions, MVPs Paul Cunningham and Michael Van Horenbeeck are stepping down from the author team to take up new challenges. I am delighted to announce that Office 365 MVPs Paul Robichaux, Brian Reid, Juan Carlos González Martín, Gustavo Velez, and Jussi Roine have joined the author team to expand the pool of expertise available to generate great content. I’m sure that many of you will have had the chance to read previous books and articles by these authors or listen to them speaking at conferences such as Ignite, TechEd, and Office 365 Engage.
Ståle Hansen and I continue as authors and Vasil Michev continues as our technical editor.
Two Fifth Edition Books
To make it easier to manage our content, we will split the 5th edition into two volumes.
- The “main book” is our focus for ongoing updates. It covers new topics like Flow, the transformation of Skype for Business Online to Teams, and includes big updates for SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. It continues to deliver comprehensive and updated content about Office 365 Groups, Teams, Compliance, and other emerging areas within Office 365.
- We have moved content that does not change as often into the “companion volume.” Here you’ll find chapters on hybrid connectivity, public folders, and so on. With the introduction of the companion volume, we are dropping the “bonus material” that we had for the fourth edition.
Subscribers will have access to both books and all updates issued for both books during the lifetime of the 5th edition. Together, the two books amount to roughly 1,250 pages (PDF).
Our normal practice is to offer previous subscribers who bought the book through Practical365.com a low-cost upgrade to the new edition. We will be in contact with subscribers soon to outline these arrangements. The upgrade fee covers all updates that we will issue for the 5th edition.
Unfortunately, we cannot offer an upgrade for the Kindle version. Amazon doesn’t have the facility to allow this to happen.
Like previous editions, you can buy the fifth edition in two ways. You can treat the book like any other traditional volume, buy it as a one-time purchase, and never update the content. You’ll still get great value, but given that Office 365 keeps on changing, we think that the traditional model is old-fashioned and not well suited to coverage of subjects like cloud technology where change happens all the time. This is why we adopted a subscription-based ongoing-update model from the start.
We plan to update the 5th edition for at least a year. We updated the 4th edition very frequently (51 updates for the book covering 315 separate chapter updates) to keep pace with change within Office 365. At times, it seemed like we were updating text as quickly as Microsoft updated features. The upshot was a constantly evolving, always changing book charting the progress of Office 365 over time.
Although we issue completely new books in PDF, EPUB, and Kindle formats for each update instead of forcing people to read original text alongside addendums and errata, some of our readers told us that a weekly update cadence is too frequent and that they were unable to keep track of changes. Accordingly, we will move to more of a monthly update cadence for the 5th edition. Subscribers will be able to download updated files as often as they want.
Kindle continues to be a challenge when it comes to making updates available. Amazon’s perspective is that they do not like asking customers to download updates because people lose bookmarks. This approach works well for novels and other material that does not change often. It’s obviously different when you have a book about a cloud service like Office 365. Before Amazon informs customers that they can download updated Kindle files, we must convince Amazon that sufficient change exists. We try to do this roughly once a month. Sometimes Amazon agrees, and sometimes they decline. We will continue to work with Amazon to make sure that customers have access to updates as quickly as possible.
We could not have executed this project without a great deal of help from fellow MVPs, Microsoft, and Quadrotech Solutions, our sponsor. Most of all, we appreciate the support we have received from people who bought copies of the book, including many who have purchased every edition. Without support like this, we would have no reason to keep pushing ahead to understand and document Office 365, to write the PowerShell examples, investigate hidden corners of the service, and push out regular updates. We hope that you will join us on the next stage of our journey.
Follow Tony on Twitter @12Knocksinna.