What’s New In Office 365 (November 2019)

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With Microsoft’s Ignite Conference right around the corner, it is typically tough to find exciting content for this month’s blog post. That is NOT the case this year. We have big changes to announce, some have already caused controversy with IT Admins, others have the potential for causing controversy, and still others are sure to make some end users’ lives a bit easier. We will be covering the unveiling (somewhat unceremoniously and with little heads up) of the self-service purchase capabilities for Power Platform products, and the end of support for Windows 7. New features that may excite IT Admins, or not, include form customization in SharePoint Lists and Libraries and the ability to rename SharePoint Site URLs. The new feature that is sure to delight many end users is live captions (English-US) in Teams meetings.

Self-Service Purchase Capabilities for Power Platform

Applies To: All, except Government, Education and Non-Profit

You read that right! Microsoft will very soon (starting 11/19) be rolling out self-service purchase capabilities for Power Platform (Power BI, PowerApps, and Flow) for commercial cloud customers. Besides the fact that this is highly controversial, and many IT Admins are up in arms about this, I think one of the most enraging parts of this whole ordeal is that there was no warning. While there is a part of me that can see this may be intentional, it is also difficult for me to see reason in keeping something this big a secret until less than a month from release. While the idea of self-service isn’t new, it still comes with a whole host of challenges for IT Admins. My first reaction was “this is going to be a governance nightmare!”.

After reading more on the subject, including Microsoft’s FAQ, released on October 25, my fears have been eased a bit; especially when it comes to data governance. This is a quote from the FAQ: “Admins maintain control over what services and products are enabled within their tenant based upon their data governance and compliance requirements. Additionally, all data management and access policies, which your organization has enabled, will apply to self-service purchased enabled services.” However, there are still many questions and kinks to be worked out. A few of the things I still feel really uneasy about are: pricing (self-service pricing may be higher than when making central purchases or partner prices), handling licenses when a self-service purchaser leaves the organization, and the process or lack of process they have in place for centralizing self-service purchase licenses.

What is the roll-out schedule?

Power BI will be available for self-service purchase in the US starting November 19, followed by PowerApps and Flow and additional geographies beginning December 4. This capability will not be available for customers who are eligible for Government, Nonprofit or Education offers.

How does this affect me?

As an admin, you will have a view of all self-service purchases within your tenant. You will also be able to see how many licenses users have purchased and which Azure Active Directory enabled users those licenses have been assigned to.

This view will only be available in the new admin center. If you haven’t enabled it yet, you can opt in by selecting the Try the new admin center toggle located at the top of the Home page.

To view self-service purchases: In the new Microsoft 365 admin center:

  • Go to the Billing > Licenses page
  • Use the filter to refine results to see Self-service purchases

Organization Filter

Note: For users that have purchased any of the products directly, they will now have access to a scoped version of the Microsoft 365 admin center that is limited to their purchases.

How are the self-service purchases managed?

Self-service purchasers are responsible for managing their own billing information, subscriptions and license assignment.

Note: Self-service purchasers cannot view or manage purchases and licenses at the organization level or those owned by other users or departments.

Individuals will be able to create support cases and get support directly from Microsoft if they need help related to their purchases.

What do I need to do to prepare for this change?

The self-service purchase capability arrives automatically and is not configurable, so there’s no action you need to take. We suggest that you update your training and documentation as appropriate.

Windows 7 End of Support and Office 365 ProPlus

Time flies! If you haven’t planned to move your devices to Windows 10, it’s time to move that to the top of your to do list. Windows 7 will be out of support after January 14, 2020; and while that may seem like a lifetime away, you only have about 2 months. It may be important to note, using Office 365 ProPlus on older, unsupported operating systems may cause performance and reliability issues over time. If your organization is using Office 365 ProPlus on devices running Windows 7, we strongly recommend your organization move those devices to Windows 10.

Even though Windows 7 will no longer be supported after January 2020, we understand Office 365 customers may need more time in their migration to a supported operating system. Through January 2023, Microsoft will provide security updates for Office 365 ProPlus on Windows 7. But, during that time, if the device is still running Windows 7, Office 365 ProPlus won’t receive any new features updates.

Forms Customization in SharePoint lists and libraries

Microsoft is making it easier to customize the visibility and ordering of fields in SharePoint list and library forms, or at least that is what they are saying. However, we haven’t seen it in targeted release yet, so we haven’t been able to test it. Their announcement said Targeted Release in late October, with complete rollout worldwide by early November. Not surprisingly, they are behind schedule. The jury is out on this one until we can test it. ;)

This feature allows users to customize the order and visibility of fields on forms in lists and libraries. Users can click “Show/Hide Fields” in the property form or the details pane to perform this customization.

  • Users who have permissions to create columns will see these options for those lists and libraries.
  • All users who view the form will be able to adjust property ordering.


SharePoint Site URL Rename

Soon it will be possible for SharePoint administrators to change site URLs. Sounds like a dream, right? Well, not entirely. I have mixed emotions about this one. In Microsoft’s announcement of this, they say “Automatically-generated redirects will ensure that old links do not break.” This leads you to believe that they have taken care of all the awful things that could happen if you change a URL. Not so. If you research further by reading the Change a site address documentation, you find at the very bottom a section titled: Effects of changing a site address. This is where it gets ugly folks. While the URL and sharing links are redirected, there are a whole host of other intricacies that are not updated automatically – for example, Flows, PowerApps, Hub Site associations all need to be recreated after the site address change; and even worse yet, Teams that are connected to an Office 365 group will no longer be able to view team files in the Teams app. That last one is a big deal! So, while I think this feature is great for fixing oopsies during development, I will be thinking long and hard about changing a site URL once the site is in production. I highly recommend that you read ALL the documentation before deciding about changing a site URL.

Live Captions Available in Teams Meetings (English-US only…for now)

Applies To: All customers

Starting in early November, Microsoft will be rolling out live captions for Teams meetings, with the plan of worldwide availability by the end of November. Live captions give participants another way to follow a conversation. They can make your meeting more inclusive to participants who are deaf or hard of hearing, participants with different levels of language proficiency, and participants in loud places. Although we don’t have this in our tenant yet, I am very excited for this feature. I’m hoping that it lives up to the hype in my head! Time will tell.

This default policy ensures only that live captions feature will be available to end users in the … menu. Live captions will not turn on automatically for end users. Attendees will need to select “Turn on live captions(preview)” from the … menu to enable live captions for their meeting.

Live Captions Preview

In addition, the EnabledUserOverride setting created and tested during the Technology Adoption Program is changing. Any instances of or calls to EnabledUserOverride will result in the use of DisabledUserOverride.

This user option is enabled for your tenant by default via the DisabledUserOverride policy.

  • If you want to disable the option of live captions for Teams meeting attendees, run this command in PowerShell: PolicyName -LiveCaptionsEnabledType Disabled>
  • If you want to re-enable the option of live captions for Teams meeting attendees, run this command in PowerShell: PolicyName -LiveCaptionsEnabledType DisabledUserOverride>
  • Where PolicyName is any custom policy you may have created. Global would refer to tenant-wide global policy.

The EnabledUserOverride value for the setting will be treated in the same way as DisabledUserOverride (if set in existing Policies). Admins are encouraged to modify policies with EnabledUserOverride set for the LiveCaptionsEnabledType setting to DisabledUserOverride to avoid confusion.

Learn more:

New File and Sharing Experiences coming to MS Teams…finally!

On 10/30/2019 Mark Kashman posted an article on the Tech Community Blog for SharePoint: Rich, new file and sharing experiences throughout Microsoft 365, now in Microsoft Teams.  This is great news but if I were a “nitpicky” sort I would say isn’t this the feature that was on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap that was originally scheduled for deployment in June of this year and I would also note that some of the folks that are getting the feature now are having some issues crop up😉. With my minor rant/vent out of the way it’s safe to say this is a positive step forward, provided it’s functioning correctly.

Essentially this is taking the OneDrive/SharePoint Library view experience and moving it directly into MS Teams to expose more functionality and a familiar experience directly within the MS Teams application. The backend for document management in MS Teams has always been SharePoint so it makes sense to get the same experience in MS Teams.  This will also alleviate some of the “training/adoption hurdles” as the consistent experience makes it easier to onboard OneDrive, SharePoint and Teams together.

As always remember to keep an eye on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap and your Message Center to stay on top of the latest, greatest updates.

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