Home > Work > #O365 #SharePoint Online–Information Rights Management #IRM–what works, what doesn’t in a business context-Part 5

#O365 #SharePoint Online–Information Rights Management #IRM–what works, what doesn’t in a business context-Part 5

This article is part of a series:

In the first article of this series we discussed what IRM was, some scenarios and high level device supportability.

Part 1: https://spandps.com/2015/09/21/o365-sharepoint-onlineinformation-rights-management-irmwhat-works-what-doesnt-in-a-business-context-part-1/

In the second article we covered file type support.

Part 2: https://spandps.com/2015/09/22/o365-sharepoint-onlineinformation-rights-management-irmwhat-works-what-doesnt-in-a-business-context-part-2/

In the third article we covered file type support in detail as well as the document library experience.

Part 3: https://spandps.com/2015/09/23/o365-sharepoint-onlineinformation-rights-management-irmwhat-works-what-doesnt-in-a-business-context-part-3/

In the fourth article we covered IRM permissions in comparison with SharePoint permissions.

Part4: https://spandps.com/2015/09/24/o365-sharepoint-onlineinformation-rights-management-irmwhat-works-what-doesnt-in-a-business-context-part-4/

Ok, next up is the client experience.  We all work in a connected world with multiple devices from mobile to desktop to web.

Let’s take a look at the experience people get across the various devices.  The devices I shall be looking at are:

  • Windows
  • Mac OSX
  • iOS – iPhone
  • iOS – iPad
  • Android
  • Windows Mobile
  • Web

For this test, I have a Word document which had its IRM rights applied last week with an expiry set to 1 day.

This is an example of the settings I am using against my list:


So without further ado:

Windows – Microsoft Word 2016

As per Word 2013 on windows, Word 2016 asks you to login to your work account to proceed.


Windows – Microsoft Word 2013

As we showed in earlier posts – expired content asks for it to be re-authenticated when off the network where the document came from.


Interestingly, if you are already on the same network, it re-authenticates in the background and it just opens the document.

Windows – Microsoft Word – Universal App

Now that we have Windows 10 upon us and the new rules around the Microsoft Office Mobile Apps being free (screens 10.1” or under), this feels likes a perfect opportunity to try this out on my HP Stream 7 running Windows 10 with the Microsoft Word Universal App.

As you can see, it recognizes the file and is prompting for the credentials to open the file!  Editing is not supported yet, but with the appropriate credentials it can call home and you can view the content.


Windows – Word Pad

The hacker in me likes to try other, non-standard avenues… WordPad doesn’t know what to do with the document…


Windows – Open Office

OpenOffice (Apache Foundation – 4.1.1 – latest) doesn’t know what to do either.  It doesn’t recognize the file format.


Windows – Libre Office

Libre Office, also based on Open Office, opens the file and it appears corrupted.  You cannot tell any of the original contents.


Mac OSX – Microsoft Word 2016

With the 2016 revision you can see it fully recognizes the file format and gives the ability to login with your work account!


Mac OSX – Word 2013

In Word 2013 on the Apple Mac, we can see that the document is protected but we do not have the ability to open with our work account.


iOS iPhone – Microsoft Word

Word on the iPhone supports IRM protection and in this scenario, I was off the network using my non-company account.

As you can see, it tries to load, tells me there’s a problem and states that it is under rights management.  Exactly the experience you would hope for from the Microsoft suite of applications.

I suspect a future release will expand on this area.

IMG_1685 IMG_1686 IMG_1687

iOS iPhone – Documents Free (Mobile Office Suite)

No support for IRM on a free MS Word alternative on the App Store.  Further proving that the protection is in the file as expected!


iOS iPad – Microsoft Word

As per the iPhone app, we get the same experience.  In a future release I suspect we will see a more expansive feature set when it comes to IRM.


iOS iPad – Documents Free (Mobile Office Suite)

No support for IRM on a free MS Word alternative on the App Store.  Further proving that the protection is in the file as expected!


Android – Microsoft Word

As you can see, the Android version of Office also supports IRM in terms of detection, but not in terms of opening or editing.  I suspect this will appear in a future release.


Windows Mobile 8.1 – Microsoft Word

As we can see, Word on Windows Mobile as expected doesn’t open the protected file, but rather than recognizing that it is protected with IRM, we get this…


Web – Office Online – Microsoft Word

Office Online understands that it is protected by IRM and stops access.


Interestingly however you cannot edit IRM protected documents online, which means you have to use the desktop application to update the documents.

You get a clue when you try to preview the document from within the library:


Then when you open it in Word Online, you have no option to edit:


From a usability point of view, I will be recommending to my users to always ensure that this setting is enabled to avoid confusion:


This will stop the preview of the document showing and it will only open in Microsoft Word

Web – Google Docs

We just get an unknown error from Google Docs…



So there you have it.  Although this doesn’t consider all applications, it covers most common and some uncommon applications across the majority of platforms (Sorry Blackberry users… just didn’t have the platforms around to test.).

It is fair to say that whether the application supports the SharePoint implementation of IRM or not, you are protected.  It is also fair to say that really you should limit your experience of updating files to the Microsoft Office suite.

To summarize the above findings; take a look at the table below:


Although I focused on the Word application in this post, Excel and PowerPoint on the core platforms (Windows, Apple OSX) work in the same way.

We are assured that the mobile apps that Microsoft produce for iOS, Android and Windows Mobile will support IRM properly soon, but no timeline has been given at the time of writing for this article.  (Please note we will be looking at Azure RMS support in the next few articles where mobile capabilities are available with latest releases)

Next Post(s)

I think we have covered the SharePoint IRM enough… Let’s take a look at Microsoft RMS (Rights Management Server) in Azure next.  It is a similar technology but not the same as IRM (Information Rights Management).

After we have had a look at that, I’ll compare and contrast against my scenarios here at work!

Till the next time… stay nerdy!

  1. Henry
    October 24, 2015 at 05:20

    Wow this is great stuff! Very helpful.

    Have done any work with Sharepoint Online DLP. There has been a lot of announcements about feature enhancements but it still looks to me to pretty limited.

    Thanks again!

  2. October 24, 2015 at 13:16

    Hi Henry,

    Thanks for reaching out. I haven’t really heard the term DLP outside of backup measures but a quick google highlighted the SharePoint eDiscovery center.

    If that is what you are asking about, then the answer is yes I have done a fair amount of work in that area for SharePoint On-Premise, SharePoint Online as well as surrounding technologies such as Yammer.

    I am very happy to discuss further. Send an email to me via the contact form and we take the discussion offline as I may not have the time to blog about it.

    Hope to catch up soon


  1. October 16, 2015 at 18:02

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