What’s New in Office 365 (January 2020)

It’s a new year, a new decade (depending on your point of view), and we have some new Office 365 features to tell you about. Most of these features aren’t beginning rollout until mid-January, but that will be here before you know it. As always, there is some great content being shared on the Tech Community blogs, so check them out when you get a chance. The updates we are covering in this post are from the Office 365 Message center.

 Microsoft Search Change to suggested Q&A 

Action required by Jan 10, 2020 

As of January 10, 2020, the suggested Q&As provided by Microsoft in Microsoft Search will be removed. These suggested Q&As were provided as a guideline, but customer feedback indicated that customers prefer to create their own Q&As. Admins who are interested in keeping the suggested Q&As, can follow the steps below:

To export the entire set of Q&As as a CSV file for safekeeping:

  1. Visit the Microsoft Search admin center
  2. Select Q&A
  3. Select Export

To edit and publish suggested Q&As:

  1. Visit the Microsoft Search admin center
  2. Select Q&A
  3. Select Suggested (the ones that have a blank “Answer Description” field need to be edited)
  4. Look for a question your users might ask. Then select Edit and add an applicable answer.
  5. Publish (or Save to draft)
  6. Repeat steps 4–5 for all suggested Q&As you want to publish or save

screenshot of Microsoft Search Admin Centerscreenshot of Microsoft search admin center

Add Participants to Teams Meeting Chat 

This feature was rolled out in Mid-December. Users who are already part of a private meeting chat can now add users to the chat. Prior to this addition, it was not so easy to add participants to a private meeting chat thread. Now it is as easy just a few clicks.

To add a user to a meeting chat: 1) Click the people icon in the top right corner, 2) Click Add people in the dropdown

TeamsMeetingChat1

3)Type the name or names separated by a semicolon, choose an option (see below) for including chat history, and click Add.

  • Don’t include chat history
  • Include history from the past number of days: indicate how many days
  • Include all chat history

TeamsMeetingChat2

Users added to the chat will also be able to join the meeting. After selecting the Join button in the meeting chat header, the added users will be able to send/receive messages as well as view recordings and other meeting artifacts.

Email Notifications for Comments and @mentions in Word, PowerPoint, and Excel 

The email notifications for comments and @mentions in Excel, PowerPoint, and Word will soon be changing (gradually rolling out in mid-January, completed by end of February).

With this update, when a user gets an email notification that someone has @mentioned them or who has replied to their comment, the email may now show both the comment thread and the surrounding document context without requiring them to open the document. In addition, users who receive the email will be able to reply to the comment without needing to open the document.

screenshot of a sample notification email

Sounds great, doesn’t it? For the most part it is. My biggest complaint is that there is a character limit on how much of the comment will be displayed in the email. As long as the author isn’t long winded with their comments, this shouldn’t be an issue. I just caution both authors and responders to be mindful that long comments will not be fully displayed in the email, and it may not always be that obvious that the message is cut off.

One other thing is the availability. See the chart below – while Excel has this up and running in all versions, you will have to wait a bit for Word and PowerPoint.

chart showing availability of notifications

Sometimes users may get email notifications that do not include the comment thread, context, or ability to reply from the email. This can happen:

  • If the person who left the comment is using a version of Office that does not yet support this feature.

This feature is Onby default. Admins can use a SharePoint PowerShell cmdlet to turn off context previews:

  1. Install the latest version of the SharePoint Online Services Module for Windows PowerShell.
  1. Connect to your tenant using Connect-SPOService.
  1. Run the following cmdlet: Set-SPOTenant AllowCommentsTextOnEmailEnabled $false

Power BI, retiring TLS 1.0 and 1.1 support, June 2020 

Action required by May 31, 2020 

Microsoft will be retiring Power BI support for Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol versions 1.1 and 1.0 beginning June 2020. All online services are moving to Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2+ to provide best-in-class encryption and to ensure service is more secure by default.

If your organization uses older versions of browsers and operating systems that only support TLS versions 1.1 and 1.0, once this change is made, users with those older browsers and operating systems will no longer be able to view Power BI content. In order to avoid any disruption in your users’ ability to use Power BI, make sure to update operating systems and browser versions before June 2020.

Custom Search Results Pages for SharePoint Sites 

While this is not a new feature for classic SharePoint Sites, until now it has not been available for modern sites. Microsoft will gradually start rolling this out to Targeted Release customers in early January, with a complete rollout by the end of February. Custom search result pages can be used to filter search results in specific ways. For example, if you have the need to sort your files searches by specific types of media files or sort your search results by different geographical areas.

This feature will allow tenant admins or SharePoint site owners to build custom search results pages. Once the page is built, either an admin or SharePoint site owner will need to enable it. To do so, go to Site Settings > Site Collection Administration > Search Settings. Then input the new page URL in the Results Page URL field.

Screenshot of search settings page

The custom search page and the SharePoint site must be on the same domain but the search page does not need to be in the same collection.

Changes in Office 365 App Launcher and Office.com 

Changes in the Office 365 app launcher and Office.com will be gradually rolling out to targeted release customers in mid-January 2020, and should be complete by early February.

With this change, users will see the same set of applications on Office.com that they see in the Office 365 app launcher. By default, both will display all launched apps. In addition, admins can now pin up to three apps to the top of the Office 365 app launcher. These apps will also appear on Office.com by default.

Notes for your end users:

  • Initially, users may find that their list of launched apps on Office.com is temporarily out-of-sync with the list in the Office 365 app launcher due a sync lag.
  • Users can no longer explicitly pin an app to the Office 365 app launcher.
  • Users can unpin any app from Office 365 app launcher, including those pinned by admins. App tiles in the app launcher will have an unpin option from the context menu. Office.com will introduce an “x” upon hover for each app tile.
  • Users will need to refresh the page after making a change in the Office 365 app launcher or list of launched apps on Office.com for the two views to appear in sync.

If Admins want to pin a third party or line of business application to the Office 365 app launcher, first configure it as an Enterprise Application in Azure Active Directory (AAD).

To pin an Enterprise Application:

  • Go to the AAD portal
  • Go to Enterprise applications – User settings
  • Scroll to Office 365 settings and add the default applications (up to three)

EnterpriseApp

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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