What’s Happening in Office 365 (April 2020)

The first thing we want to bring to everyone’s attention this month is Microsoft’s announcement that they are temporarily pulling back some features in order to better serve their customers during these unprecedented times. Despite how that sounds, Microsoft is still hard at work releasing new and updated features. We will learn about the new feature that allows users to edit metadata from within the SharePoint Document Library and List View web parts as well as the feature that allows for audience targeting in site, footer and hub navigation. Another new feature will allow Teams users to pop their chat conversations into separate windows. We will also dive into the updates to the Microsoft Secure Score and updates to the Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) that will enhance email authenticity.

Microsoft’s March 26 Announcement: Microsoft 365 Temporary Feature Adjustments

As a part of our commitment to customers and Microsoft cloud services continuity during these unprecedented times, we’re making temporary adjustments to select capabilities within Microsoft 365. Last week, we shared details about adjustments in Microsoft Teams, such as how often we check for presence, the interval in which we show when the other party is typing, and reduced video resolution. Here are a few updates. The changes previously announced are down below for reference.
OneNote:

  • OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial and education tenants. To edit, please use OneNote for the web or the OneNote desktop app.

SharePoint:

Original announcement:
OneNote:

  • OneNote in Teams will be read-only for commercial tenants, excluding EDU. Users can go to OneNote for the web for editing.
  • Download size and sync frequency of file attachments has been changed.
  • You can find details on these and other OneNote related updates as http://aka.ms/notesupdates.

SharePoint:

  • We are rescheduling specific backend operations to regional evening and weekend business hours. Impacted capabilities include migration, DLP and delays in file management after uploading a new file, video or image.
  • Reduced video resolution for playback videos.

Stream:

  • People timeline has been disabled for newly uploaded videos. Pre-existing videos will not be impacted.
  • Meeting recording video resolution adjusted to 720p

We will continue to monitor our Microsoft 365 services on an ongoing basis and share any further updates here.

Edit Metadata from within the SharePoint Document Library and List View Web Parts

Prior to this new feature, users had to navigate to the List or Document Library to update their metadata. Now, they will be able to update the metadata for a file or list item directly from the document library or list view web parts. The web parts will now include the information icon “i in a circle”, which when clicked, will open the properties details pane where the changes to the metadata can be made (see image). This may not seem like an earth-shattering change to you, but I think you may be surprised what a difference it will make for many. It may also be important to note: this feature cannot be turned off. The roll-out is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.

Screenshot of document library web part

Audience Targeting in Site, Footer and Hub Navigation

This is a feature that we have had several customers request, so we are particularly interested in its release. The feature allows SharePoint site owners to filter navigational links to specific audiences by using audience targeting. The benefits of audience targeting include bringing targeted, high value resources into focus and simplifying the viewing experience for users by removing distractions from content they don’t need.

When editing site, hub, or footer navigation, site owners will see a toggle setting to enable audience targeting (see image). Once turned on, site owners AND editors can target the specific navigation links to be filtered to specific audiences using Office 365 Groups or security groups. The roll-out of this feature is scheduled to be completed in early May.

AudienceTargeting

Multi-Window Chat for Microsoft Teams

This new feature will allow Teams users to open chat conversations in separate windows. Microsoft’s sales pitch is it will enable users to multitask more efficiently. My initial reaction to this feature was excitement, but then as I tried to apply it to my day to day life, I couldn’t really see the value for me personally. I use Teams and personal chat a LOT, but I am typically not chatting with several people in different chats at the same time. This feature might be geared more towards the people who do. I could see this being helpful for a helpdesk operator trying to hold chats with several end users at the same time or some other similar situation. I guess time will tell.

Once the feature is enabled, there will be several ways users can pop-out their conversations:

  • Double-click on a conversation in the chat list.
  • Click “Pop out chat” from the context menu for a chat in the chat list.
  • Click the ‘pop out’ button in the top-right corner of the chat header.
  • Use the slash command /pop name
  • Double-click on an avatar picture
  • Hover over a chat in the chat list and click on the ‘pop out’ button

The roll-out of this feature is scheduled to start in early April and be completed by the end of May.

PopOutChat

Microsoft Secure Score Improvement Action Updates

To better represent the security posture of organizations, Microsoft is making changes to the improvement actions that make up the Secure Score. As a result, your score and the maximum possible score may change; however, this does not imply a change in your security posture. The following improvement actions are being removed as they have been deemed to not meet expectations for reliable measurement or they don’t provide a useful representation of security posture.

  • Delete/block accounts not used in last 30 days
  • Designate fewer than 5 global admins
  • Apply IRM protections to documents
  • Apply Data Loss Prevention policies

These changes will begin on April 21 and should be complete by April 24. Check this article for more details about what improvement actions are being removed, added or updated.

Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) Updates

This update allows organizations to customize the link in the Office 365 Message Encryption (OME) branding template so that it references their custom privacy statement.  Should organizations choose not to customize the link, the OME emails will direct users to a default privacy statement provided by Microsoft.

To learn more about updating the link using PowerShell, read the Microsoft Docs.  This roll-out will be starting the end of March and should be completed by the end of April.

As always, there are lots of things happening in Office 365 , so be sure to check out the Tech Community Blogs and the Microsoft 365 Roadmap for more of what’s new.

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