If you're trying to learn about Office 365 and books are your preferred way to learn new skills, then you face a bit of a problem.
Office 365 is a rapidly changing service. Most of the books written about Office 365 in the last couple of years are terribly out of date. And I don't just mean a few screenshots that could use updating, some of the technical details in the books are now just completely wrong. As as author myself I can empathise with the pain that those writers must be feeling, knowing that their hard work was quickly outdated by the sheer pace of evolution in the cloud.
But all is not lost. If you want to learn from books you can still do so, you just need to be a bit more selective in your choice of titles. While you can certainly go for titles that are about “Office 365” (and I'll recommend some below, don't worry), you can also look for books that will teach you about the technologies that closely related to Office 365, or that Office 365 has been built upon. And although there may not be one single book that perfectly covers the topics you want to learn for your specific job role, by choosing the right two or three books to read you will get a very broad coverage.
So with that in mind, here are my recommendations for books about Office 365.
Office 365 for IT Pros
Full disclosure, if you're not already aware, I am a co-author of this book. But there are good reasons why I'm leading with it.
Firstly, it's written by MVPs based on real world experience, not theoretical concepts or sales pitches. We didn't align with any exam objectives, instead we included what we know is important for IT pros dealing with Office 365. There are chapters on migrations, Hybrid connectivity, mobile device management, transport and email hygiene, security, compliance, identity integration, and more. And with each chapter we share a lot of lessons learned in the field, things that you should watch out for in your own deployments that will save you time and trouble.
Secondly, unlike other Office 365 books, ours is kept up to date with changes in Office 365. We released the first edition in May 2015, and continued to update and expand in subsequent editions. The ebook is currently up to the 4th edition and contains every more new and updated content. And we'll keep updating it as Office 365 evolves, so you can be confident that the edition you buy will be accurate and relevant.
Note: When you buy direct you get the eBook in PDF and EPUB format, free updates for the life of that edition, and we offer a steep discount to upgrade to the next edition when it is released. Unfortunately, Amazon does not allow us to offer the same Kindle buyers.
Microsoft Exam Reference Guides
There are two certification exams for Office 365, and if you want a way to prove that you possess a level of understanding of Office 365 then the certification exams are a good start.
Both exam reference guides for Office 365 are published by Microsoft Press and are up to date for the exam objectives (which may themselves be slightly out of date with the current service).
Even if you've worked on a few Office 365 deployments or migrations already, there's a chance that you didn't cover all of the exam objectives. So it's certainly worth taking a look at the table of contents of each exam reference before you book your exam in case there are areas that you need to study up on first.
Managing Office 365 services involves a lot of PowerShell. It's simply the most efficient way to make changes, and not only that, it's the most consistent interface as well. The web-based administrative interface changes from time to time, whereas PowerShell generally stays the same (you might need to learn a new cmdlet every now and then).
PowerShell is PowerShell, and learning PowerShell the right way is a good investment of your time. That's why instead of recommending an Office 365 PowerShell book here, I'm actually recommending one of the best general PowerShell books, which is Don Jones' Month of Lunches book.
As the name suggests, you can work through this book on your lunch break at work, one lesson at a time, and after 30 days you'll be proficient in using PowerShell the right way.
Extra recommendation: after your first month of lunches move on to learning PowerShell toolmaking.
I admit, I'm not a big fan of SharePoint. I had some bad experiences with the on-premises versions that have probably coloured my view of the product.
But Office 365 does remove a lot of the pain associated with on-premises SharePoint deployments. And since SPO is included with Office 365 it's almost inevitable that your employer or customers are going to want to use it.
Fortunately Microsoft Press has published a book about SharePoint Online, and it's only recently released so it is reasonably up to date, and at 272 pages isn't as intimidating as those 1000-page monster technical books that you've seen before.
The first few chapters of this book certainly helped me to understand SPO more, but it's still a pretty dry topic for me. Still, if you've got to learn it then this will be a good start.
Office 365 is more than just email, it's becoming more and more about mobile access to the services and data that are hosted in the cloud. Which is where the Enterprise Mobile Suite (EMS) comes into play.
Protecting your users' privacy, your corporate data, and securing mobile access without compromising productivity is the goal, and this book from Microsoft Press is an experts guide to achieving that goal.