The Story Behind Office 365 for IT Pros

An Idea Grows

The story began in August 2014, when Tony Redmond started to write about Office 365 while on vacation in the South of France. Microsoft Press had published my Exchange 2013 book in September 2013, and I wanted a new book project. However, the problem with Office 365 was that everything changed all the time (it still does, as Paul Cunningham describes here).

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In any case, the range of topics that needed coverage and the ever-changing nature of Office 365 meant that more authors were needed, so I signed up Michael Van Horenbeeck and Paul Cunningham, with Jeff Guillet as the Technical Editor, and we launched into the new project in December 2014.

Ignite 2015

By April 2015, we had a book and approached Microsoft to ask whether they’d like to launch it at their new Ignite conference in Chicago the following month. Microsoft agreed, and also agreed to publish some paper copies of the book. That was quite a project because a professional editor had to transfer our Word documents into Adobe Indesign to create the PostScript files for a printer. But it all worked and 500 copies of “Office 365 for Exchange Professionals” appeared at Ignite 2015. Perry Clarke of Microsoft is holding one of the printed copies in the picture below.

Office 365 book launch at Ignite 2015
Michael Van Horenbeeck, Perry Clarke (Microsoft), Tony Redmond, and Jeff Guillet at Ignite 2015

The printed version was about 550 pages. We have dabbled at printing other editions, but once the book got to around 900 pages, the exercise proved just too difficult. In any case, a printed book goes out of date as soon as the ink hits the paper, and the whole point of doing an eBook is to avoid that problem.

The Desire to Update

We always knew that we needed to update the book but had not figured out how best to do it in quite the best way. The IT/DEV Connections conference in Las Vegas in September 2015 seemed like a good target, so we launched the second edition there with the help of Binary Tree, who paid for a nice party, and gave away copies of the book on USB sticks signed by the writing team (below).

The original Office 365 for Exchange Professionals Writing Team Celebrate the book’s launch

Third Edition

Our third edition appeared at Ignite 2016. By now, we had sorted the update process and were able to ship updates as we needed. But Office 365 was changing and the initial focus on moving email to the cloud had passed. People wanted to do more with Office 365 than email and we needed to change the focus and content of the book.

Fourth Edition

This brought us to the fourth edition, released on June 1, 2017. We renamed the book to be “Office 365 for IT Pros” to reflect the new focus on the breadth and depth of the service and included coverage of many new topics. We welcomed a new technical editor in Vasil Michev too, and began to enjoy the unique experience of his probing questions about arcane but important details that we had never considered before.

The 4th edition lasted 13 months and received 51 updates in that time. Some 315 separate chapter updates were applied. It was a crazy release schedule, but it was needed because of kind of changes that happened inside Office 365 during this period. Teams appeared in November 2016 and reached General Availability in March 2017. We also had to deal with Planner, Stream, StaffHub, big changes in Azure Information Protection, and so on. In any case, the fast cadence of change forced a pace that we kept up with, but it was hard work at times.

Fifth (2019) Edition

Now we are in the fifth edition and we have a new writing team. Again reflecting that Office 365 is much more than email, we’ve added people with real expertise in SharePoint and OnDrive for Business, app development, and security. Paul and Michael have stepped down after four versions but their legacy remains in some of the content, especially in the new companion volume.

So that’s the background story of how Office 365 for IT Pros came to exist.

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