What are Microsoft Lists really

Stefan Bauer
3 min readSep 19, 2023

Microsoft Lists is just a new user interface for SharePoint Lists, and they are SharePoint Lists we always had and used for a very long time.

Microsoft Lists logo with a question mark

So, Microsoft Lists only describes the new user interface of lists with new possibilities for managing views.

Don’t believe me? I created an Employee onboarding list based on the template on my Office 365 home. This list ended up in my MySite.

Screenshot of Microsoft Lists

Personal Microsoft Lists get stored in the old mysitehost — not the ideal place

The previous screenshot shows that the list was created directly in the good ole “MySite”, where you don’t want your user to create something important as employee onboarding. Nevertheless, when it is a shareable list, it should be stored in SHAREPOINT, not in the old-school MySite.

Another issue with the Microsoft List application is it takes lists out of SharePoint’s context. A regular project site sometimes and, in most cases, contains a couple of lists.

Screenshot of a SharePoint List in Microsoft List app

To which list does this site belong to — hard to spot when dealing with multiple lists

Working on a couple of projects, you end up with lists. Your Microsoft Lists overview can become pretty intense, with all the data out of the user’s context without an easy way to navigate back to, for example, document libraries.

Verdict

I appreciate the new user interface that Microsoft Lists provides. Microsoft has done a great job of modernising the old list views we had in the past. We now have a Kanban view, a modern Calendar or a Gallery View.

Sadly, the customisations for Microsoft lists fall short. SharePoint Framework provides a field customiser, just a field customiser to view fields.

Suppose you are looking for something like defining a phone number, with separated fields for country code, area code, telephone prefix and line number. In that case, this cannot be done with such customisation.

You can write a new list form customiser when just one field must behave differently — buying a cow when all you do is drink a glass of milk.

Overall, Microsoft Lists has a lot of pitfalls, downsides and usability challenges to address in future to become useful. A Microsoft List is a SharePoint list with a pimped user interface — a product Microsoft can market as the next cool thing.

Hopefully we will see some major update in usability and extensibility of those Microsoft lists in future. Otherwise; I am afraid it was a well meant attempt to market a piece of SharePoint that is just a feature and not an App.

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Stefan Bauer

Sharing ideas about art, design, web and development. I'm a professional #SharePoint consultant and developer. Microsoft Community Contributor Award 2011/2012