Last week, the Office 365 home page of one of my customers suddenly turned blank.
In the past, my first reaction in this situation was to ask the user what they had changed, and fire the developer tools on IE or Chrome. I often work with power users, and as they say, they know enough about SharePoint to be dangerous!
These days however, my first move is to check the Office 365 version number.
In Office 365, Microsoft is now pushing minor updates on a regular basis, without your consent or even letting you know. Result: my customer’s Office 365 is different from my own Office 365, and also different from his neighbor’s Office 365.
What happened in my customer’s case is that he was on version 184.108.40.20602 while I and others were still on version 220.127.116.11xx. The page went back to normal within 24 hours, so I guess there was a bug with the release and Microsoft fixed it.
A similar case happened 3 months ago, when Marc Anderson reported on his blog a change in SharePoint pages that I couldn’t see. It turned out that here too the version he was using was different from mine.
With Office 365 rolling release model, such situations are becoming common, and when you report an issue to your advisor you should expect a “it works on my cloud” reply. So my recommendation, whenever something unexpected happens on your Office 365 pages, is to check the version number as part of the debugging process. How? Simply by appending /_vti_pvt/service.cnf to your SharePoint domain. In my case for example, to get my Office 365 version number, I would type the following url:
If you’d like to have that url handy on your site, simply add a link, for example in the quicklaunch, with /_vti_pvt/service.cnf as URL (no need to include your domain name).
If like me you work across multiple Office 365 sites, you can add a bookmarklet to your usual browser. In Chrome for example, go to the Bookmark Manager, add a page, and the URL field enter:
Side comment: I’d really like Microsoft to use us advisors, rather than the end users, as guinea pigs, and push Office 365 updates to us first!