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SharePoint Workspace is the Preferred Method for Daily Computing for SMBs with Office 365 SharePoint Document Libraries

Rehmani Consulting, Inc. offers a number of video training courses on SharePoint as offered on Microsoft® Office 365. We thought it would be useful to provide a blog post on how we found a method of maintaining persistent data communication with our Office 365 SharePoint E3 plan. In fact, we had encountered some obstacles when we first attempted to establish this persistent data connection; therefore, we hope the following information is useful.

It may be useful to note at the start that our interest in establishing a persistent data communication with our Office 365 SharePoint 2010 document libraries stemmed from an effort to improve our own adoption of SharePoint. Our reasoning went something like this: if all documents used by our office, on a daily basis, were to be stored in SharePoint document libraries, then we would certainly have adopted SharePoint procedures as a replacement for our “legacy” procedure of utilizing a computer running the OpenSuSe LINUX operating system as a file server. Once our staff would be thoroughly comfortable with this new procedure, then we can safely go on to setting up site columns and working on our business taxonomy and related term sets.

Our reasoning was sound, but our ability to implement a working system was not initially successful. We tried a variety of methods to get the system to work, including adding a network place for our SharePoint online site, loading Microsoft’s web client, SharePoint Workspace, and more. None of these methods worked. Our experience was, at best, poor, where each attempt to download a document was accompanied by an enormously protracted wait period, despite the fact that our office is connected to the wide area network via fiber optics network plant that gives us 35MBs up and down in term of data transfer speeds.

As we looked around for the source to our problem, we had to take a look at our office computing software. In fact, in our office we maintain several computers that operate over Microsoft’s Windows 7 Operating System. Each of these computers is equipped with 8 GBs of RAM. In the interests of fully exploiting the benefit to computer speed and overall operation of this amount of RAM we opted to implement Microsoft Office 2010, as well as Internet Explorer 9, in 64 bit mode.

We should note that our Office 365 plan is an E3 plan, which provides us with a free-of-charge method of periodically updating our Microsoft Office software. When we originally implemented this feature of our subscription, we noted that our list of programs on each of computers included a “Microsoft Office 365 Portal” application. What we were not aware of, was that this application actually amounted to a 32 bit version of Internet Explorer 9.0. In fact, as noted in a discussion on the Microsoft Office 365 Community web site, Unable to open files in Explorer view?, a 32 bit version of Internet Explorer 8, 9 or 10 (7 is soon to be sunset) is required to support the activex controls required for the persistent data communications session.

Once we used the right browser, we were able to establish persistent communication between our desktop copy of SharePoint Workspace and our SharePoint Document Libraries. If you would like further detail on how we got this system to work, please contact us.

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2012 All Rights Reserved
on behalf of Rehmani Consulting, Inc.