As posted previously, there were several rumors floating around the Internet that Microsoft would drop the public facing web site feature from Office 365.
Microsoft has just announced officially that this feature will be dropped from Office 365 starting in January 2015.
As part of the evolution of the Office 365 service, we periodically evaluate the capabilities of the service to make sure that we’re delivering the utmost value to customers. Today, we’re making a difficult decision to discontinue the SharePoint Online Public Website feature. This lets us then focus on future investments while broadening our partnership with industry leaders.
For customers currently not using this feature, it will no longer be available as of January, 2015.
If you currently use this feature, you will have two years to keep your web site running and then it will shut off. If you continue to want to run your public web site on the SharePoint platform, Microsoft is recommending you turn to “third party solutions for public website functionality.” It’s not clear what this means but additional details will be provided in January, 2015. One can assume this is a reference to offerings such as FPWeb who provide hosting of standard on premise versions of SharePoint 2013, allowing organizations to have the complete control over their SharePoint environment.