Category Archives: SharePoint

What’s new in Microsoft 365 (July 2021)

The big news out of Redmond in June was the Windows 11 announcement but for those of us that are Microsoft Partners a friendly reminder: Microsoft Inspire is taking place July 14th and 15th virtually this year.  As Inspire is targeted to partners it is not as technical in nature as Build or even Ignite however it does offer some insight into in the future directions for various Microsoft technologies.  Plus, it is free to attend again this year!

In this month’s post we are going to be focusing primarily on Teams and SharePoint messages. We also have some thoughts to share on a new service announcement for Microsoft 365.  There were some other noteworthy messages worth checking out in the message center in June, so keep checking in on the message center regularly folks…we are just scratching the surface with these posts!

Edit a SharePoint page or news post in Microsoft Teams

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It has been quite some time since Microsoft rolled out the ability to view SharePoint pages in Teams tabs and this seems like a welcome enhancement.  We use the word “seems” as we, like many of you, have gotten used to going into the upper-right hand corner and opening the page in the web.  Anything that saves a click is probably a good thing, but we have a feeling this one may not be as used as frequently as Microsoft is expecting.

Message Summary

This feature will allow users to edit modern SharePoint pages or news posts within Teams experience. Users can now pin a Page or News Post to a Teams channel and make edits without leaving Teams. 

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 82969.

When this will happen:

We expect to begin rolling this out in early June and expect the full roll out to be completed by mid-June.

How this will affect your organization:

This feature will simplify the authoring experience for publishers who are active on Teams.

What you need to do to prepare:

You might want to notify all admins and content writers about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.

Additional information

Teams Attendance Report

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Depending on your geographic location and/or privacy policies this one may be a no-go which is likely why the feature is being rolled out as “Off by default”.  This is something that will make many of the IT professionals we work with regularly very happy as many new features are pushed out as “On by default” and they are left to deal with the ramifications. Managing Microsoft 365 enhancements/updates is essentially a full-time gig at this point, and it is challenging to catch everything coming down the pipeline when it is your only job let alone when it is an additional responsibility.  That is probably the right level of griping…moving on. For those organizations that will use this feature it will be a welcome addition, just remember to turn it on when it becomes available!

Message Summary

This reporting dashboard will appear as a tab in the meeting detail will provide:

  • Attendance information for Teams regular meetings.
  • Registration information for Webinar prior to the meeting and joined registration and attendance data after the meeting.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 66585

When this will happen

We will begin rolling out in early June and expect to complete by the end of August.

How this will affect your organization

Once available, this will allow meeting organizer to view the report without download as well as the joined registration/attendance data.

Feature will be rolling out default OFF, IT admins can enable the attendance dashboard, turn on the AllowEngagementReport policy with the following command in PowerShell:

  • Set-CsTeamsMeetingPolicy -AllowEngagementReport Enabled

What you need to do to prepare

Determine if you would like to enable the Teams attendance report and you may consider updating your training and documentation as appropriate.

Visit this help documentation for more information.

New Service – Scheduler for Microsoft 365

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When we read this in the message center our first thought was “Cannot wait to read the comments on this services Tech Community announcement article”.  We were not disappointed: Scheduler, a new Microsoft 365 service, makes scheduling meetings easier and faster.  Let us be honest with ourselves, comment threads on the web are typically negative by default but when Microsoft does not post the associated cost for a service/feature directly in the announcement things get a bit worse.  $10 per user per month does seem a bit steep for this offering from a business use case perspective.  

As one commenter pointed out Microsoft offers https://findtime.microsoft.com/. When we read about Scheduler, we immediately though of Calendar.Help.  Since the initial announcement Calendar.Help is now branded as Scheduler Exclusive Preview…surprise, surprise.  If you investigate it a bit further the Scheduling Assistant in Outlook is not terrible to use and there are 3rd party tools out there with similar value adds for less ongoing costs.  Maybe there are more features coming into the service in the future to justify the costs but as of right now it is likely a hard pass for most of our customers. 

Message Summary

Scheduler is an add-on service for Microsoft 365 that enables a digital assistant to schedule your meetings through email. Licensed users just have to add the assistant’s email address to an email conversation to delegate the scheduling to the assistant for both, internal and external meetings.

The Scheduler service will be available WW but in English only.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 81948.

How this will affect your organization

When you decide to enable Scheduler, purchase, and assign licenses, all licensed users will no longer have to find meeting times nor negotiate a time to meet with people. The assistant will do everything for them by simply adding the digital assistant’s email address to an email conversation.

Once added to an email conversation, Scheduler enables the digital assistant to access Outlook calendar’s availability information for you and your co-workers to find a time that works for everyone. Once a time has been found, Your digital assistant will create and send a meeting invite from the meeting organizer’s calendar. If there are people invited to the meeting for whom the meeting organizer does not have access to their availability, your digital assistant will save the meeting organizer time and effort by negotiating, through email, a time that works for all.

  • Users can request the meeting in natural language and give as much or little detail as they want.
  • Scheduler works with people inside and outside your organization.
  • Service works as an add-on to most licenses that include a Microsoft Exchange Online plan. For details, see admin doc.

What you need to do to prepare

If you don’t wish to enable this service, there is nothing you need to do.

If you want to get started with Scheduler, please read our blog and admin doc to learn how.

Blog

Microsoft Lists: @mention people in comments

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Since rolling out comments in lists last year this is a feature, we were expecting to see lit up, so it is nice to see it in a tenant near you.  Many organizations still rely heavily on Excel and Access to manage content where lists provide a superior experience for everyone involved and this is one of the common “blockers” with Excel we get from business users.  Find that somewhat amusing as comments in Excel with notifications are recent themselves but nevertheless hopefully the subset of folks that considered the lack of this functionality a deal-breaker should be appeased.

Message Summary

You’ll now be able to “mention” people you work with while adding a new comment to a list Item. This will help people share and collaborate on list items.

The person who receives a notification can click a link that takes them directly to the comment in context, review the comment, and take the requested action.

Please note: The @mention capability is not supported for Internet Explorer browsers. Please use a different browser to use this capability.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 68811

When this will happen:

  • Targeted release (org level): We expect to begin rolling this out in early June and expect to complete the rollout by mid-June.
  • Standard release: We expect to begin rolling this out in mid-June and expect to complete the rollout by the end of June.

How this will affect your organization:

When you try to add a comment, you can type the @ sign in the comment textbox, which will suggest people to mention. You can choose to keep typing the name to narrow down suggestions or select someone from the suggestions.

When you send the comment, we verify whether all @mentioned users have edit permission on the list item. If not, a share & notify dialog will open listing all @mentioned users who don’t have these permissions. You can choose to share the list item with these users and notify them. The item will be shared with edit permissions to the mentioned people.

Below are snapshots of this feature in action:

@mention person selected from the suggestions

An email notification received by the mentioned user appears as shown above. When someone receives this email, they click the “Go to comment” button and are then directed to the appropriate comment in the list item.

What you need to do to prepare:

You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.

Learn more:

Additional information

Microsoft Lists: Sync your lists for improved performance and offline access

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We are huge fans of using lists to interact with data as noted in our previous comment about mentions in comments however this feels like a potential nightmare.  We are certain some folks are still having night terrors about Groove.exe from time to time and the timing and lack of available documentation in announcement is putting off some negative vibes.

This has the potential to be an awesome piece of functionality but there are quite a few questions that are going to need to be addressed in the documentation and our internal experimentation prior to suggesting customers start to take advantage of this feature. Initial questions: what makes a list eligible versus ineligible and what is the experience really like for low bandwidth situations?  Hopefully, it will be “right the first time” but only time will tell.

Message Summary

Your lists now automatically sync to your Windows device, improving performance when you work with your lists and allowing you to continue your work even when you’re offline or lose your internet connection.

  • Lists sync is powered by a new general-purpose sync engine that gets packaged, installed, and updated through the OneDrive sync app’s existing update mechanism.
  • The data is stored in a local database and requests are handled through a secure localhost HTTP server. Lists sync runs as a separate background process (Microsoft Nucleus.exe).

Lists sync is currently only supported on Windows devices (Windows 10 or later) running the OneDrive sync app.

Key points:

  • Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 68809
  • Timing: we will roll this out beginning in early July and will be complete by early August. Additionally, we will update this post with specific how-to documentation once available.
  • Rollout: tenant level
  • Control type: user and admin control
  • Action: review and assess

How this will affect your organization:

After the Microsoft Nucleus.exe is installed and running, the sync process begins when a user first navigates to any list or to the Lists web app. All eligible lists that are visible from the Lists app will be synced.

Common operations on lists, such as changing list views, sorting, filtering, and grouping happen locally and finish quickly even on very large lists. All of these operations continue to work offline. Edits sync between your device and the cloud and you can resolve merge conflicts if there are any.

This feature is on by-default for all eligible lists.

To configure Lists sync on users’ devices, use below Group Policy objects (GPOs):

  • DisableNucleusSync: Prevent Lists sync from running on the device (default: not enabled).
  • BlockExternalListSync: Prevent users from syncing lists shared from other organization (default: not enabled).
  • DisableNucleusSilentConfig: Prevent users from getting silently signed in to Lists sync with their Windows credentials (default: not enabled).
  • Control Access from unmanaged devices: Blocks or limits access to SharePoint and OneDrive content from unmanaged devices (default: not configured).
  • Control access to SharePoint and OneDrive data based on network location: Controls access to SharePoint and OneDrive resources in Microsoft 365 based on defined network locations that you trust (default: not configured).

What you need to do to prepare:

You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.

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

What’s New In Microsoft 365 (June 2021)

As we step a bit closer to summer here in the northern hemisphere things are heating up.  Microsoft Build just wrapped the virtual event last week and had a ton of great sessions you can view as recordings here.  Important to note that Microsoft Build is primarily targeted at a “Developer Audience” but there is still some content for the non-developers out there around the Microsoft 365 Power Platform and Microsoft Teams worth taking in.

On to the business at hand…if you were watching your message center this month you may have noticed quite a few (Updated) messages that were feature updates/enhancements being delayed.  If you are waiting for a specific feature that was targeted for release in May or June, make sure you do a quick check on its status.  We lead off our post this month with a couple of those updated posts then run the gamut of Microsoft 365 applications with the remainder of our message center announcement call outs.   

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What’s new in Microsoft 365 (March 2021)

Microsoft Ignite is right around the corner (3/2/2021 – 3/4/2021) and it is a virtual conference again this year. Head over to MyIgnite to get your sessions lined up ASAP as many of the sessions have limited “seating” available.  As was the case last year there is no cost associated with attending so there is no reason to site this one out. 

In this month’s post we are focusing a lot on the “big 3” of modern collaboration in Microsoft 365: Teams, SharePoint, and OneDrive. We do highlight a welcome update coming to Planner as well and a note about Outlook, but even that is related to SharePoint and OneDrive. What is really piquing our interest this month though is finding out what big news comes out of Ignite😉.

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