SharePoint Online Vs OnPrem: Feature Comparison

Standing in a side room this morning at SharePoint Saturday DC (#SPSDC) at the Microsoft Chevy Chase office, I was chatting with Susan Lennon (@susanlennon), Neil McNeely (@neilmcneely) and Adam Levithan (@collabadam) about the differences in features between online and on prem, and not sure where to point people when this question pops up. In the early days of SharePoint, the product team used to put together a “Good, Better, Best” document which walked through this comparison, but the platform has become far too large – and changes happen too frequently – to present this data in a single document or PDF. A quick search provides some detail about different aspects of SharePoint, but most sites point back to a TechNet overview of a SharePoint Online (and Office365) service description.

First off, you lose a lot of detail that came with the old format – and many of the links are less than informative (for example, ‘Governance’ hits all the check marks for each version, and yet the link provides absolutely no detail whatsoever as to what each version does to “solve” the governance dilemma. <snark>But apparently SharePoint has governance, so we’re good to go.</snark>

Second, the checklist of features is split between SharePoint Online and SharePoint on prem SKUs, making it difficult to compare even this limited information. So I grabbed the content and threw it into a single table, and add it here for your viewing pleasure:

Developer features SharePoint Foundation 2013 SharePoint Server 2013 Standard CAL SharePoint Server 2013 Enterprise CAL SharePoint Online Plan 1 SharePoint Online Plan 2
Access Services No No Yes Yes Yes
App Catalog (SharePoint) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
App Deployment: Autohosted Apps No No No Yes Yes
App Deployment: Cloud-Hosted Apps Yes1 Yes Yes Yes Yes
App Deployment: SharePoint-Hosted Apps Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
App Management Services Yes1 Yes Yes Yes Yes
BCS: Alerts for External Lists No Yes Yes No Yes
BCS: App Scoped External Content Types (ECTs) No Yes Yes No Yes
BCS: Business Data Webparts No Yes Yes No Yes
BCS: External List Yes Yes Yes No Yes
BCS: OData connector No Yes Yes No Yes
BCS: Profile Pages No Yes Yes No No
BCS: Rich Client Integration No No Yes No No
BCS: Secure Store Service Yes Yes Yes No Yes
BCS: Tenant-level external data log No No Yes No Yes
Browser-based customizations Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Client Object Model (OM) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Client-side rendering (CSR) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Custom Site Definitions No Yes Yes No No
Custom Site Provisioning No No Yes No No
Developer Site No No No Yes Yes
Forms Based Applications No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Full-Trust Solutions Yes Yes Yes No No
InfoPath Forms Services No No Yes No Yes
JavaScript Object Model Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
List and Library APIs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Remote Event Receiver Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
REST API Yes

Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sandboxed Solutions Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SharePoint Design Manager No Yes Yes Yes Yes
SharePoint Designer Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SharePoint Store Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Workflow 2010 (.NET 3.5) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Workflow 2010 (out of the box) No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Workflow 2013 No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Workload API: ECM APIs No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Workload API: Search APIs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Workload API: Social APIs No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Active Directory Synchronization No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Alternate Access Mapping (AAM) Yes Yes Yes No No
Analytics Platform No Yes2 Yes Yes Yes
Anti-malware protection Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Claims-Based Authentication Support Yes Yes Yes No No
Configuration Wizards No Yes Yes No No
Deferred Site Collection upgrade Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Distributed Cache Yes Yes Yes No No
Host Header Site Collections Yes Yes Yes No No
Improved Permissions Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Improved Self-Service Site Creation No Yes Yes No No
Managed Accounts Yes Yes Yes No No
Minimal Download Strategy (MDS) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
OAuth No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Patch Management Yes Yes Yes No No
Quota Templates Yes Yes Yes No No
Read-Only Database Support Yes Yes Yes No No
Remote BLOB Storage Yes Yes Yes No No
Request Management Yes Yes Yes No No
Request throttling Yes Yes Yes No No
Resource throttling Yes Yes Yes No No
Service Application Platform Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SharePoint Health Analyzer Yes Yes Yes No No
SharePoint admin center No No No Yes Yes
Shredded Storage Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Site Collection Compliance Policies No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Site Collection Health Checks Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
State Service Yes Yes Yes No No
Streamlined Central Administration Yes Yes Yes No No
System Status Notifications Yes Yes Yes No No
Unattached Content Database Recovery Yes Yes Yes No No
Upgrade evaluation site collections Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Usage Reporting and Logging Yes Yes Yes No No
Windows PowerShell Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Accessibility Standards Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Asset Library Enhancements/Video Support No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Auditing No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Auditing & Reporting (e.g. doc edits, policy edits, deletes) No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Content Organizer No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Design Manager Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Document Sets No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Document Translation in Word Online Yes3 Yes3 Yes3 Yes Yes
eDiscovery No No Yes No Yes
Email enabled lists and libraries Yes Yes Yes No No
External Sharing: External Access No No No Yes Yes
External Sharing: Guest Link No No No Yes Yes
Folder Sync No Yes Yes Yes Yes
IRM using Azure Rights Management No No No No1 No1
IRM using Windows Server AD RMS Yes5 Yes5 Yes5 No No
In-Place Hold No Yes Yes No Yes
Managed Metadata Service No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Metadata-driven Navigation No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multi-stage Disposition No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Office ProPlus (Osub) No No No No No
Office Online (edit) Yes3 Yes3 Yes3 No No
Office Online (view) Yes3 Yes3 Yes3 Yes Yes
Office Web Apps Server integration Yes Yes Yes No No
PowerPoint Automation Services No Yes Yes No No
Preservation hold library No No Yes No Yes
Quick Edit Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Records management No Yes yes Yes Yes
Recycle Bin (SharePoint admin center) No No No Yes Yes
Recycle Bin (site collection) Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Related Items Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Rich Media Management No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shared Content Types No Yes Yes Yes Yes
SharePoint Translation Services No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Site mailbox No Yes4 Yes4 Yes2 Yes2
Surveys No Yes3 Yes3 No No
Unique Document IDs No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Video Search No No Yes No Yes
WCM: Analytics No Yes2 Yes Yes Yes
WCM: Catalog No No Yes No Yes
WCM: Category page and catalog item page No No Yes No Yes
WCM: Search web parts No No Yes No Yes
WCM: Cross-Site Publishing No No Yes No Yes
WCM: Designer Tools No Yes Yes Yes Yes
WCM: Faceted navigation No No Yes No No
WCM: Image Renditions No No Yes Yes Yes
WCM: Managed navigation No Yes Yes Yes Yes
WCM: Mobile and Device Rendering No Yes Yes Yes Yes
WCM: Multiple Domains No No Yes No No
WCM: Recommendations No Yes Yes Yes Yes
WCM: Search Engine Optimizations (SEO) No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Word Automation Services No Yes Yes No No
Business Intelligence Center No No Yes No Yes
Calculated Measures and Members No No Yes No Yes
Data Connection Library No No Yes No Yes
Decoupled PivotTables and PivotCharts No No Yes No Yes
Excel Services No No Yes No Yes
Field list and Field Support No No Yes No Yes
Filter Enhancements No No Yes No Yes
Filter Search No No Yes No Yes
PerformancePoint Services No No Yes No No
PerformancePoint Services (PPS) Dashboard Migration No No Yes No No
Power View for Excel in SharePoint No No Yes No Yes
Power Pivot for Excel in SharePoint No No Yes No Yes
Quick Explore No No Yes No Yes
Scorecards & Dashboards No No Yes No No
SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) Integrated Mode Yes Yes Yes No No
Timeline Slicer No No Yes No Yes
Visio Services No No Yes No Yes
Advanced Content Processing Yes Yes Yes No No
Continuous crawls Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Custom entity extraction No No Yes No No
Deep links No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Event-based relevancy No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Expertise Search No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Extensible content processing No No Yes No No
Graphical refiners No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hybrid search Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Manage search schema Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
On-premises search index Yes Yes Yes No No
Phonetic name matching No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Query rules—Add promoted results No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Query rules—advanced actions No No Yes No No
Query spelling correction Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Query suggestions No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Query throttling No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Quick preview Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ranking models Yes Yes Yes Yes3 Yes3
Recommendations No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Refiners Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
RESTful Query API/Query OM Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Result sources Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search connector framework No Yes Yes No No
Search results sorting Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search vertical: “Conversations” No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search vertical: “People” No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Search vertical: “Video” No No Yes No Yes
“This List” searches No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Change the look Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Connections to Microsoft Office Clients Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cross Browser Support Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Custom Managed Paths Yes Yes Yes No No
Governance Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Large List Scalability and Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Mobile Connectivity Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Multi-Lingual User Interface Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
My Tasks No Yes Yes Yes Yes
OOTB Web Parts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Permissions Management Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Project functionality for team sites Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Project site template Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Project Summary web part Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Project workspace Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Public Website (SPO) No No No Yes Yes
SharePoint Lists Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
SharePoint Ribbon Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Task list Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Team Site: Drag & Drop Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Team Site: Notebook Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Team Site: Simplified Access Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Templates Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Themes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Variations No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Usage Analytics No No Yes Yes Yes
Work Management Service No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ask Me About No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Blogs Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Communities Reputation, Badging, and Moderation No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Community No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Company Feed No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Follow No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microblogging No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Newsfeed No Yes Yes Yes Yes
One Click Sharing No Yes Yes Yes Yes
People, Sites, Document Recommendations No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Personal Site No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Photos and Presence Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Profile No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Ratings No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shared with Me No No No Yes Yes
Site Feed No Yes Yes Yes Yes
OneDrive for Business Yes6 Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tag profiles No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tasks integrated with Outlook No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Trending Tags No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Wikis Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Additional Storage No No No Yes Yes
Azure Provisioned Apps: Access Services No No No Yes Yes
Azur
e Provisioned Apps: Custom Code in Azure LWR
No No No Yes Yes
Duet Online No No No No No

 

Most content and articles that discuss the disparity between on prem and online version lacks any real substance IMHO, focusing more on the business differences and justifications rather than the technical nuances. Few attempt to tackle the full breadth of features, but its typical to find bits and pieces of information within targeted topics.

In a CMSWire article from last fall, well-known SharePoint trainer and consultant Brian Alderman (@brianalderman) goes into a bit more detail on some of the main differences between online and on prem, identifying “the ability to use the new cross-site publishing feature and faceted navigation, key Business Intelligence (BI) components like PerformancePoint, Scorecards and Dashboards are not available, and the Content Search Web Part used to dynamically present data on a page based on a search query is not available.”

SharePoint MVP and consultant Jasper Oosterveld (@SharePTjasper) also jumped in with a post outlining the main differences between online and on prem, highlighting Full Trust Solutions, BCS limited, WCM limited, Performance Point Services, Search Control and Index, and Managed Paths.

I’m sure you can dig around on the web and find more examples, but you’ll improve your luck at finding the answers you need by researching specific topics, rather than looking for broad answers.

Hope this is useful to someone out there.

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.