Looking for Office 365 for IT Pros? The 4th edition of the book has now been retired, and Office 365 for IT Pros, 5th Edition is now available. Here's my review.
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Back in 2015 the first edition of Office 365 for IT Pros was released. The book was originally titled Office 365 for Exchange Professionals, reflecting the audience focus at the time. All the authors, myself included, were Microsoft MVPs with backgrounds in Exchange Server. So the focus on Exchange was natural. Later the book was renamed to Office 365 for IT Pros as the coverage expanded to more topics.
Office 365 for IT Pros, 5th edition has now been released. I'm no longer involved as an author, but I still use the book as my main reference for Office 365. Along with the official docs on Microsoft's website, it is the first place I look for information. So for this edition I can take an outsider's view and write a review of the book.
Can One Office 365 Book Cover Everything?
To write a technical book you need to decide how many topics to cover, and how deep to go on each topic. For a subject as broad as Office 365 that is a challenge. Office 365 is huge, complex, and used by different organizations in different ways.
Office 365 for IT Pros covers the main workloads of Exchange Online, SharePoint Online/OneDrive, and Skype for Business/Teams. There is also coverage of the foundational identity topics, such as integrating on-premises AD with Azure Active Directory. Complementary features such as Groups, DLP, Flow, Information Protection, auditing and reporting are also covered. You can read through the full table of contents to see the full list of chapter titles.
At more than 1000 pages of content the coverage of each topic is deep. That said, it's possible that you won't find a specific answer that you're looking for. That could be due to one of two reasons. The answer you're looking for could be something brand new that hasn't been added to the book yet. In that case it's just a matter of waiting for an update to cover it. Or your question is very situational and isn't directly addressed in the book. In that case you can still use the book to learn how a feature works, then through your own further exploration find the answer you're looking for.
Is it Too Big?
Huge technical books used to be all the rage. Nowadays they're less popular. This is for two reasons.
First, a +1000 page book, along with several hundred more pages of content in the companion book, is a lot of material to get through. If you're reading it cover to cover, yes I agree. That's a lot, and it will take a long time. But that's not how I like to consume technical content these days, and it's not how I recommend using this book. Instead, pick the area that deals with your immediate challenge. If you're planning a migration, focus on those chapters. You don't need to read all the intricate details of other features that you will be adopting later. Focus on what is relevant to your immediate tasks. Then later as you move on to new challenges, you can dive into those sections of the book.
Second, technology moves fast these days. Especially cloud services like Office 365 and Azure. Writing 1000 pages of content takes several months, even with many authors working together. Then there's the work to edit it all and get it ready for publishing. This is why traditional publishers are struggling in the tech industry today. By the time a large book gets published, the technology has changed enough to make the book out of date.
Keeping the Book Updated
With Office 365 for IT Pros the team deals with that problem by releasing regular updates. The book is only available as an eBook. There's no print edition. So changes can be made and new files downloaded by customers as often as necessary.
The fourth edition got released in June of 2017. An annual overhaul had become necessary to keep the book aligned with the ever-changing world of Office 365. Regular, smaller updates were also made throughout the life of each edition to maintain accuracy.
For the fifth edition the team says they have settled on a monthly update cadence. In other words, if you buy the 5th edition today you can expect monthly updates and corrections at no extra cost until an entire new edition gets released (which has been each year so far). That sounds about right to me, because a lot of the changes each week are minor and not worth downloading a whole new book for.
There is one caveat though. Amazon Kindle buyers don't get the same number of updates. That's a limitation of the Kindle platform that Amazon imposes. If you want the best update and reading experience, buy the book in PDF/EPUB formats. I like my Kindle library, but I value the updates more. EPUB works great on tablets, and that's where I use this ebook the most.
I still think that Office 365 for IT Pros is the best book on the topic available today. All the other books on the market are either out of date, or are not as comprehensive.
Please note I am not able to assist with customer service issues or questions that you have about the 5th edition. Please contact the new team at [email protected] if you have any questions or concerns.