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With SharePoint Online, does anyone know how to use a publishing site for an Internet site? I thought this was the most common scenario: SharePoint Online for a public website (meaning unlimited anonymous users) with custom URL... but I've searched online for a few hours and found very few options, none of which are ideal:

  • Publishing sites templates can't be used on root, or redirected / use a custom URL
  • Team site templates are defaulted on the root collection, but enabling publishing features on them causes permission errors with page templates
  • Public Websites were removed in 2014

Any ideas? If there is a way (which again - there MUST be it is such a common scenario IMHO) I would like the possibility to have public users who can't edit but can submit forms (that kick off a new fancy flow).

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Like mentioned by @MartijnE, public website option with anonymous access is no longer supported in SharePoint Online. This changed was introduced back in 2015 and you can find more details from following link - https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3027254. All sites in the SharePoint Online require authentication, so there's no longer an option to build Internet pages in there.

If you are looking into creating anonymous SharePoint site for Internet based access, you'd need to look on hosting this in some IAAS service (Azure, Amazon etc.) or alternatively expose that from on-premises to Internet.

  • Everything I read still talks about an "Internet" option. I assumed that meant anonymous access, with a login to interact. What am I missing? That this is a SharePoint 2013/2016 feature only... either on-prem or hosted? – Steve Hartzog Aug 24 '16 at 13:15
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This is not supported with SharePoint online and not possible. As you said, the public websites were removed and with that, anonymous visits are not possible in SharePoint online.

Summary: SharePoint is for collaboration, not for public sites.

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