Microsoft Forms is now available for preview for business users

Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Blog Posts, Export

Microsoft Forms originally was announced in June 2016 for Office 365 Education customers. The product allows creating simple surveys and quizzes. Now the preview of Microsoft forms is also available for commercial users that opted to receive “first release” Office 365 product builds.

What Microsoft Forms is about?

Jeremy Thake of Hyperfish wrote in his blog that:

It was released due to pressure from Google Apps in the education market with Google Forms.”

As it was previously mentioned, Microsoft Forms was targeted to education users. This FAQ article describes Microsoft Forms as:

“Microsoft Forms is a simple, lightweight app that lets you easily create surveys, quizzes, and polls. In educational institutions, it can be used to create quizzes, collect feedback from teachers and parents, or plan class and staff activities. In business organizations, it can be used to collect customer feedback, measure employee satisfaction, improve your product or business, or organize company events.”

Undoubtedly, Microsoft knew that business users would also love to have an ability to make surveys and questionnaires for employees and external customers, and then act on collected data. I can see it being used for internal forms like – polls for next teambuilding activities, voting for fun shirt design for next staff party, post-event feedback forms etc. It also allows anonymous forms for customers outside of the organization.

Yet another attempt to replace InfoPath?

Naturally, in our line of business when you hear “Forms” in the context of SharePoint you think of InfoPath. Unsurprisingly Microsoft Forms does not compete with InfoPath or pretends to be an alternative. Microsoft’s position on the future of InfoPath these days is clearer and it suggests using a combination of SharePoint lists, PowerApps and Microsoft Flow as a replacement.

Microsoft forms - infopath replacement

Microsoft Forms in action

Let’s take a look at the product and build a simple form, shall we?

You start with this screen:

Microsoft forms - create new form

When you click a new form, you get to select what types of questions you want to put in the form. You are limited to four option:

Microsoft forms - field types

  • Choice: Create a question and provide a pre-defined answers as list of options
  • Text: Create a question and allow manual text entry
  • Rating: Create a rating-based question (5 stars or a number)
  • Date: Create a question and allow participants to provide a date (great for scheduling appointments)

Microsoft Forms also offers additional settings to configure who can fill in a form and options for responses.

Microsoft forms - who can fill out this form

I have designed a simple one questions form with 5 predefined answers. This is how it looks in the editor:

Microsoft forms - form in the editor

This is how the form loo kin the preview mode:

Microsoft forms - form in preview mode

When the form is created, there are several options to share it:

Microsoft forms - share a form

It can be configured for internal use or for external to allow truly anonymous forms.

What I really liked about Microsoft Forms is the real time evaluation of responses. It even allows exporting the results to Excel for advanced analysis.

Microsoft forms - responses

Conclusion

Microsoft Forms is available in preview for “first release” subscribers and is gradually being rolled out to business users. The product was created as a competitor to Google Forms in education sector. Enterprise niche for survey and poll products is taken by product like Survey Monkey and Microsoft Forms are not likely to be a contender there. To no one’s surprise, Microsoft Forms is not a replacement to InfoPath. Microsoft’s position on InfoPath replacement is – PowerApps + Microsoft Flow + SharePoint lists.

While Microsoft Forms looks pretty simple product competing with Google, their direct audience – universities – have also corporate requirements and goals. We do not believe supporting multiple products is easy in general. So, having both Forms and Power Apps will require different skills and raises a lot of questions from form users. Thus, we insist that PDF forms are much more preferable – it’s convenient, widely and deeply known format, which does not require any changes on a customer side (unlike Power Apps) and still pretty easy to create and use, while absolutely powerful. PDF Share Forms offers unprecedented level of  PDF integration into the SharePoint 2010, 2013, 2016 and Office 365.