WHAT’S NEW IN OFFICE 365 (NOVEMBER 2018)

October was a great month for those of us in the IT Pro space in Office 365, especially with the SharePoint Online Admin center enhancements. Unfortunately, we have yet to see the Teams Administration Dashboard in our tenant or any of our customers tenants but hopefully by typing this up we will assure ourselves of sticking our foot in out mouth and it will pop up. While many of the “big” developments from October are geared towards IT folks, there were still a couple noteworthy updates for the user base as well.

Side-note: If you plan to be in or around Chicago, IL in the beginning of December and want to increase your knowledge on Office 365/SharePoint head over to the SharePoint Fest Chicago event being held 12/3/2018 – 12/7/2018. Don’t let the name mislead you, they cover a lot of SharePoint items, but you will also see many other Office 365 applications covered as well as Azure topics. The event has different levels of sessions for end users, power users, IT professionals and developers so it really is for everyone.

SharePoint Admin Center Enhancements

This has been “in the works” for some time but it’s finally here!  As administrators we have had access to the “modern” SharePoint Admin center for quite some time but there were a few gaping holes in the functionality:

  1. Unable to create and associate hub sites
  2. Unable to manage Office 365 Group owners for Modern Team Sites
  3. Unable to set storage limits and sharing options

We could get around these limitations easily with various PowerShell scripts that were not overly complex, but it felt overkill from an administration standpoint as Microsoft is really pushing the modern experience. The updated SharePoint Admin center plugs each of those gaps as illustrated below:

SP Online Admin Center Updates.png

Now let’s get the Teams Administration dashboard in the Skype for Business & Teams Admin center please😉.

Create a reminder in SharePoint Online

This one has been a common request, much like the “Request Sign-off” flow that was rolled out earlier this year.  The Request Sign-off flow isn’t perfect for every situation and it’s likely that you’ll want to check out the Reminder flow prior to using it as well. Just one problem: it was targeted for an October release and included in the message center updates, but we are not seeing it in our Targeted Release for everyone tenant. That means there’s a strong chance you won’t have it yet either.

Once it does get released we will get another option in our Flow drop down when we have a custom date column associated with a list or library, the Flow will likely be called Reminder or something along those lines. Based on the wording in the update it seems like the date for the reminder email will be set by the user “you can now create an email reminder a number of days in advance of the date column selection” but we shall see.  Important to note that if your organization doesn’t have MS Flow or Exchange Online this may not be the right solution for your reminder needs.

If you are impatient and really want this functionality ASAP you could always create the MS Flow for this yourself as well. There is a nice, short “How To” by Thomas Granheim called Send reminder emails using Microsoft Flow and Office 365 on Medium.  If you’re a business user taking your first steps with MS Flow just remember that computers are still “stupid” (for now anyway) so be precise with your inputs😉.

 

Improving the way we show user’s private OneDrive content in Microsoft Search in SharePoint

We rarely title things in the exact way Microsoft places them in the Message Center but we’ll make an exception on this one.  Many users have expressed confusion over the search results returned when using SharePoint Online search results as it also returns items from their OneDrive and MS Teams.  MS Teams search results are really SharePoint search results so there isn’t a lot Microsoft can do about that situation (train your folks if you’re going to be using MS Teams) but in November 2018 search results from a user’s OneDrive for Business will be labeled as “Results from your OneDrive”.  In the long run this is probably a positive change however, it’s a change so be prepared for questions or jump out in front of it by sending out a notification once it hits your tenant. We’ve made a point to clarify the search results in our previous trainings for site owners and users to ensure they understand SharePoint search is pulling back “everything” but we can certainly see how it causes confusion.

Search Explanation Image

Another important piece of this change is that on 11/26/2018 Microsoft will be changing the default scope for user queries issue via CSOM and REST search API.  If you are a developer and utilize those APIs in your solutions head over to the article SharePoint Online search results no longer includes private OneDrive for Business results to see what you need to change, if anything.  Per Microsoft you need to change something: “Only if you use the SharePoint Online search API to power a search experience, and users expect to receive results from SharePoint and OneDrive for Business, including their private OneDrive for Business content.”.  Changes required to continue getting the same results are minimal but make sure you stay ahead of the curve on this one.

Add Microsoft Teams to existing Office 365 Groups from SharePoint Online team sites

Filed under the “You will use MS Teams!!!” portion of Office 365 this update allows Owners/Administrators of Modern SharePoint Team Sites to join their Team Site to a MS Team. Owners of Office 365 groups have been able to take this action from MS Teams for quite a while but extending the option to SharePoint does make sense given the “push to Teams”.

Unfortunately, it remains to be seen if we will have an option for disabling this feature in SharePoint Online, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s not going to be possible or Microsoft will at least make it difficult for us to disable.  There are ways to create Modern SharePoint Teams sites without Office 365 Groups using SharePoint PnP PowerShell to avoid this completely (we’ve been doing this for a while) but there are no options for this via the user interface now and many users will want some of the functionality behind the Office 365 Groups, even if they don’t fully understand them. A script utilized to create Modern Team sites without Office 365 Groups is referenced below for your convenience:

Create A Modern Team Site Without An Office 365 Group Using PnP PowerShell by Sebastian Levert

Users will now receive emails with product training and tips for services in their subscription

Read this message center update title and thought “This is going to be a nightmare, so many organizations want to control what’s getting sent to their users, hopefully they let us pick and choose what applications information goes out”.  Read the message itself and thought “Wow, they included the steps to disable this in the body of the message…they must know most folks are going to disable this.”.

Microsoft is “taking a step back” to review suggestions so they are pausing the release of this feature which means we don’t really need to take any actions immediately. However, if you do decide you want to disable this service you may do so now by taking the following steps:

  1. Log into the Microsoft 365 Admin center
  2. Click on Settings
  3. Click on Services & Add-Ins
  4. Click on End User Communication
  5. Flip toggle to “Off”

End user communications screen

 

As always, please check in on the Rolling Out and In Development sections of the Microsoft 365 Roadmap regularly to get an idea of what new features, updates and enhancements are in the pipeline😊. Should you have any questions, comments or concerns related to Office 365 please feel free to connect with us.

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