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Are we allowed to enable Publishing Features on our Public Website?

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Question to Microsoft I suppose:

I cannot possibly understand why SharePoint Online (with one of the most powerful Web Content Management Systems) was so thoroughly limited by cutting back to a really basic template editor.

I can only assume it is because Microsoft assumes the average user won't know how to use SharePoint, so wanted to provide a simpler user interface.

This is fair enough (especially for the Small Business model), and if this IS the reason there should be no reason why I can't go "behind the scenes" and setup the site any way I like (at my own risk .. as it were).

I have an Enterprise Plan so if this is the case is there any reason why I can't manually activate the Publishing features for my public website site collection?

(I am .. after all .. a full Site Collection administrator .. as long as this is "at my own risk")

All Replies
  • Hi Martin,

    A lot of the restrictions come in the form of being proactive in terms of the security of customer environments.

    Another reason is that, with multi-tenant environments, a change made to one is a change made to all. In terms of having access to the Hosted environments - there are only a select few who are able to access them; any kind of modification enabled or disabled there is very carefully evaluated.

    In terms of enabling features within the Site Collection itself, there's a full slew of facets that can be enabled or disabled within Site Administration (within the Enterprise-level offering) and, to a lesser degree the Small Business plan.

    Could it be enabled by default in future updates?  Absolutely.  But at the moment, the product is as it's described in the Standard Service Description (

  • Mike,

    Thank you for your input! And from a server / infrastructure / farm level I completely agree.

    I'm not sure I 100% understand regarding the Site Collection Features. From what I understood reading through all of the Service agreements, usage terms and detailed T&Cs (when I finally found them) there is nothing that prohibits activating / deactivating features .. or uploading / deleting such content or Sandbox Solutions ... however it did state that doing this meant your site was no longer supported.

    I suppose I'm just looking for official clarification on this:

    Given that the Site Collection Administration rights, and the features provided, allow me to Activate and enable the Publishing Features, is my system in a supported state if I do that?

    Furthermore, would I be in breach of the usage agreement if I did that?

    thanks again


  • Hi Martin,

    Absolutely. If there's a feature in your site that's able to be activated, you're still within the terms of your agreement if you activate it.

    If you go outside of the features and try to activate, say FASTSearch (in Enterprise) and are able to somehow access the FASTSearch service, that would not only be a considerable breach of security, but also a breach of the usage terms.

  • Did you have any further questions regarding this issue Martin?

  • No thats all good. I would mark it as "answered" but I have another problem.

    I moved my vanity domain from my old P1 Small Business plan over to my new E1 Enterprise Plan.

    I therefore have the same login (martin.hatch (at) but this is now running under a completely different Office 365 plan.

    The end result is that there are now two different Claims accounts for the same user name! I can't login as my old one, which mean I can't delete it or rename it either)

    (which is why my current username is "MartinHatch" .. but my original one had a space in it .. "Martin Hatch").

  • Hi Martin,

    Glad that I was able to address those questions.  With regard to the Claims issue, you'll need to submit this on your E3 level account.  Within the Service Request, please let us know every detail of the issue so that, when we escalate the incident, that the experience will run smoothly.


  • Were you able to create a Service Request Martin?  If so, would you please provide me with the Service Request number?

  • Yes I have, and had a reply thanks

    It's all in order ;)

  • The SharePoint Online public-facing website does not grant use rights to leverage the publishing portal components in Office 365. These features are only supported for intranet sites within the private site collections you create from the SharePoint Online Administration Center. For now, the public-facing site is configurable by use of the Site Designer ribbon tool. Microsoft only supports what Site Designer enables. The feedback from this thread, and companion posts in and outside of the Office 365 Community site, are important in helping guide planning for how Microsoft may offer web content management (WCM) driven public websites that can leverage the SharePoint's powerful publishing infrastructure components and are licensed appropriately. I, too, will take the action item to add additional clarity on this same point within the next update to the SharePoint Online service description here:

  • Mark,

    Appreciate your reply to this thread. Just to avoid any and all further confusion, what exactly is meant by "does not grant use rights" and "<not> supported"?

    Is this a "we won't help you fix it"

    or is it "this is in violation of the agreement and your account might be deleted?"

    In other words if I DO turn these features on (and bearing in mind .. this is a zero code approach, using the officiall supported "out of the box" tools) then what are the repurcussions?

  • Bump.  

    Hoping Mark can provide the clarification that Martin has asked for regarding the definition / ramifications of enabling the publishing features.  

    In my case, the goal is to create a public site on our E3 instance with the help of a SharePoint Designer 2010-savvy contractor, and end up with something that's easily portable should we wish to move it to our own server where we can deploy more custom-coded features, integrations, etc.  While on O365, we plan to keep it simple...

    Thanks in advance, Mark.  

    And thanks to you, Martin, for your blog post describing the method, and your pursuit of license / support ramifications here!

    -- brian

  • So is the response above by a MSFT moderator incorrect?

    "Absolutely. If there's a feature in your site that's able to be activated, you're still within the terms of your agreement if you activate it."

    Could we get a straight answer?

  • mch,

    From my understanding (and from speaking to Mark by email) this is a "no".

    What that means in effect however ... ?

  • Hi Mike

    There is some conflict between your answer and that provided by mark-kashman. It would be appreciated if you could confirm which one of you is correct? Maybe both with some caveats/clarification?

    The O365 proposition would be greatly enhanced if publishing features could be activated (and supported) on the public-facing site, in order that O365 could be a viable option for public-facing websites.



  • Hi Gus. The SharePoint Online service description has been updated with what looks like a pretty clear statement on the publishing features on the public site

    "The public website does not grant use rights to leverage the SharePoint publishing portal components. These features are only supported for intranet sites within the private site collections created in the SharePoint Online Administration Center. The public website is configurable by use of the built-in Site Designer ribbon tool"