For years, Microsoft has encouraged users and companies to submit their Office templates for wider distribution. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Access templates submitted through the proper channels, and approved by Microsoft, became available to everyone using recent versions of the Office products.
In Office, when you click File, New, and go online to choose a template -- or if you go straight to the Office template search page -- all of those user-submitted templates are available, indexed, and ready to kick-start new documents. Microsoft even has a rating system and tools for managing and publicizing templates.
The same process also applies to posting stock images and videos, although they weren't as heavily used.
All of that's going away. According to an Aug. 8 Office Blog post by Microsoft's Doug Thomas, "Microsoft has recently made a decision to retire these community features." Although Microsoft will continue to supply its own internally developed templates, images, and videos, everything submitted from the outside world is due to disappear on Oct. 1.
Microsoft advises users to download any contributed files they want to keep. The process is simple: Log on to Office.com with the Windows Live ID that you used to submit the files. In the upper-right corner, click Welcome (your user name). If you have any submitted templates or other content, you will see a pane on the left that says Profile. Under Profile, click Images or Templates or Videos. Then click View All. If there are any templates, videos, or images that you want to download, click on the title and you'll get full download instructions.
If Microsoft's action seems a little abrupt, well, it is. Microsoft sponsored a 2011 Calendar Template contest last September, and the Office Templates blog lists a $10,000 prize for a PowerPoint presentation in March. Microsoft even announced a badge program to help people publicize their templates in January.
If you, your company, or your users have ever submitted templates, images, or videos to Office.com, now's a good time to get 'em back.
This story, "Microsoft pulling user-submitted Office templates," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.