Microsoft Will No Longer Offer A Public Site Option in Office 365 As Of Dec/Jan

?RIP: Office 365 Public Sites!UPDATE:You heard it here first!!
http://support2.microsoft.com/kb/3027254

“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.”
Microsoft is throwing in the towel on the Office 365 public site option. According to a Msft source, it will be removed from the Office 365 Sharepoint Online offering as of an update scheduled for Dec 2014 / Jan 2015. Existing accounts using the public site will not be affected by this dramatic change, but can expect the already lacklustre support to dwindle further. It may be telling that the inclusion of a public site has already been removed from the feature list in the Office 365 “compare plans” pages.

The public site has long been the “runt” in Msft’s foray into cloud computing, a fact that was reflected in the option’s halfhearted functionality and support. The inability to anonymously access list items was a clear indicator from the start that balancing the needs of a functional public facing site with the need for private site security on the same server was a tricky problem to overcome. Hosting 3rd party apps on Azure was a compromise solution, but was awkward, unintuitive and unpopular with users.
Limited functionality is one thing, but Microsoft’s unwillingness to address the growing list of missing or broken public site features is an even clearer indication of their wavering commitment to the public site model. The recent rash of users complaining about problems with the public blog may have been pivotal in pushing Microsoft towards a decision to abandon the public site offering. Customers trying to create a business web site are hardly going to be reassured when support’s all too typical response to an issue is: “submit feedback”.
Learning from their early experience with the Office Live service – which ended up being almost exclusively used as a public site platform – Msft took a barebones approach to public sites in Office 365, and refocused the service on Sharepoint’s user and data management capabilities.
Savvy Sharepoint followers have long wondered about the role of a stripped down public site offering in Msft’s cloud business model. And in the face of declining use and mounting customer dissatisfaction, apparently Msft has now decided the considerable resources needed to maintain and support public sites can no longer be justified.
Questions?

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Retain Custom Branding For Office 365 Sharepoint Online Sub Sites (Non Publishing Sites).

?If you want to create sub sites that have the same custom design as a parent site from a template, you’ll find that non-publishing sites don’t give you that option through the browser. The master page is included in the template but an option to switch over to a different master page isn’t. The easiest workaround I’ve found is to:1/ Include elements like logo etc in the parent site master page design (using css and/or maybe a little html).
2/ Use Sharepoint Designer to designate which master page to use.

Master Your Master Page

Including collection wide elements like a logo in a master page are outside the scope of this article, and in truth, it’s pretty easy to insert a logo once you’ve built a sub site. Calling up the right master page is a bit more tricky. Basically what you need to do is make a small change to the code in each page file to call up the right master and then designate which master page that is in the master page library, using Sharepoint Designer.
Each page gives you the option to use either the “default.master” or the “custom.master”. You can associate any master page you want as the default and custom. That allows you to leave the admin pages with the standard Sharepoint look, but apply your customizations to the site pages only. Or you can use one consistent look for ALL pages. I like to designate my custom master page as the “custom” master page rather than the “default” because I think it’s clearer and sometimes customizations can interfere with the functionality of back end, admin pages, but it’s up to you.

If you want to use a custom master page:
Open the PARENT site in Sharepoint Designer
For each page you want to affect, change”default” in this line to “custom:”
<%@ Page Language=”C#”Inherits=”Microsoft.SharePoint.WebPartPages.WikiEditPage” MasterPageFile=”~masterurl/default.master” MainContentID=”PlaceHolderMain” %>

custom-master1

Now you can save the site as a template and each site created using the template will use the”custom” master for the pages you changed. One more step is needed to ensure SP grabs the right master page.
TIP» If you have a lot of pages, and don’t want to make this change in all of them, you can leave the master used as “default.master” and set your custom master as “default” in the below step.

Setting The Master Page

Once the site is created, open it in SPD.
Open the”Master Pages” folder.
Locate your custom.master and right click it to open a context menu.
Select”Set as custom master page”.

custom-master2

Your new sub site should now be using your custom master page.
Questions?

Visit my forum » if you have any questions. For development work, you can contact me here ». And if you think this would be useful to others, feel free to share it by clicking one of the share buttons up top!