Microsoft Stream

Office 365 video migration to Office Stream imminent – Get Ready!

This post was most recently updated on July 16th, 2020.

7 min read.

While this post will mostly be about the highly topical migration from Office 365 Video to Microsoft Stream, there’s also a fair amount of rambling about Microsoft’s partner strategy and a bit of history included. I’m starting with the main stuff and then proceeding to the ranty parts, so just skip the last 75% of the post if you don’t care about that kind of stuff!

On to the content, then!

Microsoft Stream is taking the world by storm

There’s been a lot of buzz about Microsoft Stream lately, probably largely because of the phenomenal integration it has with Microsoft Teams and the visibility it’s gotten at Ignite and in channels like the Intrazone podcast. But it’s still competing for usage with it’s predecessor – Office 365 Video.

While Microsoft first started pushing Stream usage with surprise forced migrations from Office 365 Video Portal to Microsoft Stream already in 2017, they had to stop that (probably due to a lot of customers getting upset) and continue the uneasy co-existence of the 2 competing services for quite a while.

However, Microsoft is again pushing people gently towards their Stream video service. And that’s understandable – Stream is honestly a pretty impressive piece is engineering. It’s basically an Enterprise-class YouTube replacement with better integration to the Office 365 productivity stack and far smaller privacy concerns. And of course it’s more or less a more modern version of Office 365 Video Portal.

Let’s take a look at features that set Stream apart – namely from Office 365 Video, but to some extent from actual competitors as well.

Features that Microsoft Stream has but Office 365 Video doesn’t:

  • Private Videos (and other permissions on a per-video level)
  • Office 365 Groups support, allowing a video library for every Office 365 Group
  • Hashtags, time code links, and web links in video & channel descriptions
  • Sub-channels within a group
  • One Video in multiple channels
  • Personal watch list to get back to videos later
  • Comments and likes directly on the video
  • User page – see all videos & channels for a user
  • Admin defined employee consent before use
  • Share link to start playback of video at specific time code
  • Create table of contents in video description by linking to video time codes
  • Start playback at specific time code when embedded
  • Standalone License available
  • Detailed portal, group, channel analytics
  • Android App
  • Both Android and iOS apps have offline playback
  • Awesome intelligent features:
    • Deep search within automatic audio transcript (speech to text)
    • Automatic closed caption based on what’s spoken in the video
    • Face detection – jump to where face appears
  • Microsoft Teams tab for a Channel
  • PowerPoint integration
  • Live Streaming
  • Support for Hive (P2P), Kollective (P2P), and Ramp (cache proxy and multicast) as eCDN providers
  • Microsoft Teams meeting recordings

(Source: – updated in February, 2020)

That’s a pretty impressive list. Microsoft Stream is far, far more advanced tool than Office 365 Video – and at this point, everyone should go with it instead of Office 365 Video.

And actually, you won’t have much of an option anyway! The migration is starting in March 1, 2020.

Migration Schedule

The schedule for the migration is different for different regions, but in any case as a tenant admin, you will have the option to start the migration (supposing Microsoft has prepared your tenant) or delay it (up to a point).

In case you don’t change any settings, automatic migrations will begin by March 1. 2020.

The following describes this in more detail. It is mostly lifted from here.

The transition from Office 365 Video to Microsoft Stream will be a phased approach.

Public regions timeline

  • Now – Migrate or delay (Phase 1)
  • March 1, 2020 – Automatic migrations begin if you didn’t delay (Phase 2)
    • Automatic migrations begin for organizations who didn’t change the migration setting to delay or delete my content
    • Tenant admins will receive several Office 365 message center notices about the upcoming automatic migration if the migration timing setting isn’t changed
    • If your organization would like to put a plan in place for migrating to Microsoft Stream on your own schedule, your admin will need to click delay before this date
  • April 1, 2020 – iOS App retired
    • Office 365 Video iOS app is retired and removed from the Apple App Store
  • March 1, 2021 – Automatic migrations even if you delayed (Phase 3)
    • Office 365 Video is retired, automatic migrations begin for remaining organizations who delayed the migration
    • Tenant admins who opted to delay the migration will receive several Office 365 message center notices leading up to this date as reminders
    • Organizations who delay should put a plan in place to migrate to Stream via the migration tool before this date
  • March 1, 2022 – Redirection removed
    • Redirection for links and embed codes from Office 365 Video to Stream will no longer be maintained

Government Community Cloud (GCC) timeline

For GCC customers Phase 1 and 2 will likely be combined. GCC admins will receive a message center post when their organization is entering the start of Phase 2 giving them a 2 months notice to change their migration timing setting to delay before automatic migrations begin. The O365 Video retirement date for GCC will be announced later.

  • April 1, 2020 – iOS App retired
    • Office 365 Video iOS app is retired and removed from the Apple App Store
  • Other retirement dates to be determined

National clouds Germany & China timeline

Microsoft Stream has not yet been deployed to the Germany or China regions. As such the dates of retirement will be different than that above.

  • April 1, 2020 – iOS App retired
    • Office 365 Video iOS app is retired and removed from the Apple App Store
  • Other retirement dates to be determined

A Migration… But what’s missing?

So, this is happening again. Microsoft is pushing the customers to Stream, and the only thing you can do is postpone it by a bit :)

End of the topical part. If you hate rambling, history and some low-key politics, stop reading!

All the good stuff about Stream and the migration said, there’s a certain piece of functionality, that Microsoft Stream is still missing, and has been for a while: Public APIs. And while a lot of the features it DOES have are awesome, this puts a huge dent into the extensibility of the service.

But why does that matter? Why would anyone care about APIs? Well – this brings us to an interesting topic, namely about the roles of…

Microsoft and the partner community

Now, this ties to the bigger, higher level discussion about the balance between Microsoft and its partner network. Arguably, Microsoft’s biggest advantage against its closest competitors has been the partnerships the company has formed. This spans back years – at least to MS-DOS 1.0 which Microsoft licensed first to IBM, but then also to other companies boosting the popularity of personal computers and in the process making Microsoft the behemoth and household name it was in the 90s.

The crazy successful partnerships spanned through the legendary Wintel combo to the buzzing ecosystem that nowadays exists around Microsoft’s products. Almost my whole professional life has been revolving around different vendor/consultancy scenarios for Microsoft’s tools. Hence, this blog post, like most of the articles on this site, deals with Microsoft’s productivity platform and other cloud solutions – Office 365, Microsoft 365 and Azure.

The relationship between Microsoft and its partners has been complicated practically for the whole existence of the company, though. IBM (very reasonably so) felt it drew the blunt end of the stick (yes, that’s a saying) in the young days of PC. Wintel ended in a divorce and nowadays practically all of Microsoft’s partners are also (to varying degrees) competitors to the company.

How’s Microsoft Stream a problem to Microsoft’s partners?

Microsoft is offering a newer and arguably far superior product to replace their older product, but doesn’t offer any APIs for the new one whereas the older one had at least some APIs available. Additionally, the APIs were originally promised around 2 years ago, but have been constantly pushed back as each deadline has been approaching.

Now, finally, borderline at the same time cutting the wings of their partners who have built on top of the older product, Microsoft is forcing a migration without offering the partners tools to build on top of the new product.

“We’re not going to turn around and compete with our customers,” said Julia White, corporate vice president at Microsoft, at a Goldman Sachs tech conference in San Francisco last month.”

While not competing with their customers (unlike Amazon), there’s practically no way not to compete with their partners, since the space is so densely populated nowadays. Microsoft is always striving to add more value, and this means they’re eating the same cake with the partner community.

And that DOES drive the partners and the greater community to innovate more, and build on top of what Microsoft offers. It’s, at the end of the day, a good thing.

The speed at which Microsoft is constantly changing and improving its products in the company’s ever-growing need for innovating is mind-boggling, and difficult to manage even for the nimblest of its partners. But to keep the whole ecosystem healthy, Microsoft has done a pretty good job to offer its partners tools to offer additional value in all the gaps and special use cases that the Behemoth misses, just because it aims for the planet scale, not to serve each and every customer.

So, essentially, as long as given the tools, partners build the things Microsoft doesn’t. A pivotal key in this equation, however, are the APIs Microsoft offers its partners to empower them to offer that extra value.

While Microsoft is doing an awesome job in regards to some of the APIs (huge shoutout to Microsoft Graph!), SDKs (like SharePoint Framework, which they support with the greater community) and tools (.NET Core tooling, for example, is impressive regarding how young the technology still is) it offers, there are quite clear lapses in some other parts.

Back to Microsoft Stream!

The lack of APIs for Microsoft Stream is the big, glaring, menacing missing piece in the current Video/Stream migration plan. And to be precise, it’s not just about the lack of the APIs, but also the confusion communication and unreliable scheduling for the implementation of the APIs, that’s bugging the developer community.

This isn’t the first time Microsoft tries migration from Office 365 Video Portal to Microsoft Stream.

The APIs were first announced in 2017, and to be published a few months later, just in time for Microsoft’s last forced migration from Office 365 Video to Microsoft Stream was beginning. It’s been postponed ever since, and now scheduled some time 2020. The first migration was canceled as well, to be fair.

What’s Microsoft to do?

Microsoft learned from the first, kind of botched migration in 2017. The current migration seems far better planned and communicated – so big props there! However, the lack of any public APIs is still hindering any innovation around Microsoft Stream, and likely causing people to be more skeptical of the service than they would need to be.

Launching something like a beta version of a feature-wise limited API would at least re-establish some of the trust lost in this space.


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