Microsoft

mark’s microsoft monthly: what did we learn in August?

By 28th August 2019 No Comments
Image to show Mark's Microsoft monthly for August

Another busy month of updates with a new calendar interface for Microsoft Teams, increased functionality in OneDrive and a rather wonderful (if the demo is to be believed) whiteboard function. The changes Microsoft make keeps us marching forward with better virtual meetings and collaboration.

First, as summer draws to a close in the UK, this month’s quote is from Bill Gates and recognises the many brilliant teachers preparing for a new school year:

“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.”

Improved AV in online meetings

Ever had a Skype meeting and tried to play a video on your machine and have your audience hear the audio? It’s doable, but more painful that you might expect. Enter new Teams feature: Share system audio in a Teams meeting. You can use it to play a video or audio clip as part of a presentation. For some of us, this little feature is a big deal!

You’ll have seen Meetings in the Microsoft Teams sidebar is now Calendar. The Calendar app has a nice new look. You can move easily through months and change the view from day to working week to calendar week. It’s still not on a par with Outlook calendar – you can’t drag and drop appointments for example – but still a big improvement and no doubt more functionality will follow. And lots of people talking about this update.

Screenshot of Microsoft Teams calendar

Flow

The integration between Teams and Flow continues and users can now use Microsoft Flow to create flows to notify individual users within Teams. Microsoft announced the integration of Teams and Flow in January 2018 and this early post is still a useful read. To me, it shows how Teams is becoming the digital place where we will go to work.

More Microsoft Teams improvements

Manage discovery of private teams in Microsoft Teams with this update. Admins and team owners can control whether private teams can be discovered. When a private team is discoverable, it shows up in search results and users can request to join. A team owner can then approve or deny the request. This update was touch and go for August and you might not see it until September though it is on the roadmap as rolling out.

The Shifts app in Teams has three features rolling out: Time clock (clock in and out through a mobile device); multi-Team support; and schedule import.

Whiteboard wonder

There’s a boost for collaborative meetings as a Microsoft Teams Rooms app update has brought in a new content camera feature. Users can now include a traditional whiteboard into their Teams meeting for it to be shared through the camera – the killer function is that even when a presenter moves in front of the whiteboard remote participants will be able to see the content right through them. There’s a great demo in the update if you don’t believe me!

Let’s wrap-up Teams with a new WordPress plugin Share to Microsoft Teams. Apparently, it “just works” but we haven’t tried it ourselves yet:

The plug in to share content to Microsoft Teams

We just missed including this story last month: Microsoft confirmed that Skype for Business Online will be retired on 31 July 2021. This probably won’t come as a surprise though it’s good to finally have a date.

Microsoft has shown more interest in open source in recent years. Just this week it hired open-source and charity veteran Stormy Peters to run its Open Source Programs Office, showing its continued commitment to open source.

OneDrive boosts to content sharing

Look out for better ways to manage and share information in OneDrive. Including giving you the average time to read the contents, which could help you make quick decisions about the content to read and how to best prioritise your day. Also password protected links and suggestions that will help show personalised recommendations based on your working relationships to help you find relevant and trending information faster and discover content you might not have been aware of.

Stream now allows you to easily locate your Teams meeting recordings with the new meetings tab. Navigate to ‘My Content’ and select the ‘Meetings’ option to access all your recorded Teams meetings. Personally, this is a welcome change from those recordings being in my uploads.

Excel on all platforms gets six new functions to use with Dynamic Arrays to “supercharge your spreadsheets”: FILTER, SORT, SORTBY, UNIQUE, SEQUENCE and RANDARRAY.

The Edge browser

The chromium-based Edge continues to impress as a browser. I installed the ‘Dev Channel’ version a few weeks ago which was super easy, my Google Chrome favourites were pulled in and it’s really fast! This is already my ‘go to’ browser. In fact, I am typing these words into Word Online in the new Edge browser right now. I recommend you check it out, but maybe try the Beta Channel for a more stable install.

And you should definitely read this excellent Microsoft article about the history and future of Dark Mode in Office 365. It covers the initial rollout of Dark Mode on Outlook for iOS and Android, as well as Office.com

Want to keep learning about Microsoft Office 365? Watch what’s new every month in the Microsoft’s regular YouTube update.

That’s a wrap for August. Let us know how you get on with the new features!

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