WHAT’S NEW IN OFFICE 365 (MARCH 2020)

This month we are going to be delving into a great addition to SharePoint Online’s sharing options, Teams cross channel posting and the looming death of Skype for Business Online.  We also get into some speculation regarding Classic SharePoint and the Power Platform release plan becoming available for download.  Also, it’s worth noting that if you happen to find yourself in Chicago, IL on 4/15 & 4/16 you may want to check out Microsoft Ignite the Tour!

Default Sharing Link Site to Site to People with Existing Access

One of the most commonly requested sharing control features in SharePoint Online is finally coming.  SharePoint Administrators will be able to set the default sharing link type to “People with existing access” via PowerShell initially and it will eventually be making its way to the SharePoint Admin center (no estimated time of arrival on this one though).  Previously the only options available via the SharePoint Admin center were specific people (only the people the user specifies), only people in your organization or anyone with the link (available only if Anonymous access was enabled in the tenant).  Using any of those options creates instances of broken permission inheritance and if an organization is performing routine audits this can be a real pain.

There were workarounds available to administrators by configuring permissions on the site collections as well as some PnP and CSOM we could run but this was not ideal from an administration standpoint.  As of today we can run a “one-liner” script via the SharePoint Online Management Shell:

Set-SPOSite -Identity https://yourTenantName.sharepoint.com/sites/yourSiteName -DefaultLinkToExistingAccess 1

This was briefly discussed on the SharePoint Roadmap Pitstop February 2020 episode of the Intrazone podcast but we think this one is a pretty big deal and will be huge once available via the SharePoint Admin center.  User training can only take you so far when it comes to SharePoint and security…this is a much-needed administrative control for a significant number of organizations😉. Along the lines of Sharing, it was also noted that Microsoft will be rolling out a feature to help manage “Unhealthy Links” that is worth a quick read as well.

Teams Channel Cross Posting Editing

This feature has been available for a bit however many users aren’t even aware of its existence as they rarely click on the option to format their conversations.

Cross Channel Posting

This feature allows users to post conversations across multiple teams and channels but if you needed to edit the posted conversation or post the conversation in additional channels after the initial post you were unable to do so.  Starting in March the enhanced editing capabilities will will be rolling out to tenants near you.  This is a quite powerful feature and it should go without saying but please use this responsibly folks.

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Upgrading from Skype To Teams

On 2/19/2020 there was an interesting post in the Tech Community blog for Microsoft Teams titled: Why wait? The top 10 things you need to know about upgrading from Skype to Teams written by Nydia Cavazos who is a Senior Product Manager at Microsoft.  I agree whole heartedly that 7/31/2021 (Skype for Business Online End of Life) is looming large for quite a few folks but I cannot help but wonder what prompted the article being posted…was it just a timing thing or is there something more this?

Pure speculation to follow so please take with a grain of salt.  I’m betting the folks at Microsoft were expecting more organizations to adopt Teams for conferencing and telephony than their metrics are currently showing.  We work with a quite a few customers that are still on the “Skype Train” and while we are obviously nudging them to complete transition to Microsoft Teams many are just biding their time.  Cannot help but think we are going to see a big push from Microsoft at the conferences and in the media to MS Teams for conferencing and telephony the rest of 2020…guess we shall see😉.

Updating Classic SharePoint Team Site Home Pages to The Modern Template

This one is a bit further down the road, but we will start seeing its impact in Target Release tenants in March.  Basically, if you have an out of the box classic team site collection home page that has no customized content the home page will be upgraded to the Modern SharePoint experience. Please note that we do have the option to revert to classic (detailed here) and that this will not “Groupify” the site collection aka no Office 365 Group will be created or connected when this change takes effect.

While not an exciting announcement we felt it was worth noting as it’s another step in the process of getting away from Classic SharePoint interfaces where Microsoft is the one pulling the trigger vs. the organization. There are still some use cases where we have to switch back into Classic SharePoint to perform tasks in SharePoint however, they have been dwindling over time and while we’ve been assured Classic SharePoint isn’t going away just yet it sure does seem like that is where things are heading.

Power Platform: 2020 Release Wave 1 Plan

2019 was a bit of a roller coaster ride with the Power Platform (Power Automate, Power Apps and Power BI).  We had 2 major licensing tweaks (February and September), a name change (Remember Flow) and the introduction of Power Virtual Agents, AI Builder and Power Apps Portals.  Some of the members of the community, including myself were having trouble convincing leadership that the Power Platform was a solid option with all the noise around it.

Microsoft has listened to the community and although the changes are going to keep on coming there are putting out more detailed information on the release cadences. The Microsoft Docs post titled Power Platform: 2020 release wave 1 gives a high level overview and you can even download the 2020 release wave as a PDF.  There are a lot of great features coming but just keep in mind that there is still a “last updated” date next to the release wave PDF download link. We would suggest checking back on the documentation to ensure you are looking at the latest/greatest before making decisions😉.

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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