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Mark’s Microsoft Monthly: what did we learn in November?

By 3rd December 2019January 21st, 2021No Comments
Image to show Mark's Microsoft monthly update blog for November

Thanks to Microsoft Ignite, November has been an amazing month for Office 365 announcements. However, many of the announcements are for features not due until December or even early 2020.

So we’re going to focus on what’s available today with a teaser of what might become available in December and beyond.

First up, the big one for Teams users: private channels.

Private channels

These provide in in-Team private channels for conversations, files an tabs that can be viewed and accessed by a selected few of the team’s members. Some key points for end users:

  • A lock icon indicates a private channel
  • Team owners can see all private channels in a team (but not all the content)
  • Team members can see only those private channels they’ve been added to

There are some behind-the-scenes implications that have some organisations disabling private channels for now. Make sure you read more about private channels to understand what’s on offer.

Gif explaining how private channels work

All about the chat

With new chat, this button is moving to the top of the chats list only as opposed to visible in any app. The Contacts and Recent view options will become a drop down in the Chat list header, instead of being standalone tabs:

The Native Federation for 1:1 Chats makes it possible to have richer conversations with people outside your organization within Microsoft Teams chat. You can read the roadmap details to follow this.

And with Safe Links in Microsoft Teams, now safeguards Teams messages from harmful links in real time. When you share a link in a private chat or channel conversation, Teams verifies it to alert you of any risk such as malware or viruses.

You can see sensitivity labels for Teams in public preview. Set at a tenant level and applied to a Team, users creating the Team can use them to regulate the public/private settings. Admins should learn more about the options available.

Teams will soon allow guest access via Gmail address.

New features for Meetings in Teams

Meetings within Teams has had more than its fair share of updates. This is partly as Microsoft prepares to retire Skype and because they need push the virtual meeting capacity to boost the collaboration potential of Teams.

  • Presenter and attendee roles in meetings give organisers the option to define presenter and attendee roles for meeting participants. If you’re a Skype user, you’ll be familiar with these meeting options.

  • Microsoft Whiteboard is now available in Teams meetings by the share tray. This gives teams an infinite digital canvas for meeting participants to brainstorm and share ideas.
  • Real-time live captions in Teams meetings are coming soon.


Branding changes

Microsoft Edge has a new logo and has been overhauled.

Microsoft Flow is now called Power Automate.

Advisor for Teams helps IT admins to plan successful Teams deployment for their organisation. It offers recommended plans and a collaboration space for the deployment team to streamline the roll out of Teams.

Before we wrap up here’s a sneak-peak of what you can expect over the next couple of months:

  • pop-out chat and meeting multi-windows
  • a Tasks app in Teams which consolidates your tasks from across O365
  • a Yammer app in Teams
  • an Outlook plugin to copy emails to Teams
  • Teams meeting co-opetition with Cisco and Zoom
  • Teams for Linux
  • improved Teams calling and meetings for Citrix virtual environments
  • welcome a new colleague into Teams options
  • @Tags in Teams
  • upload attachments in Forms
  • messaging extensions including polls and surveys.

Finally, if you’re wondering how Teams is doing as a product, it now has over 20 million ‘daily active users’. And while there is some speculation about these numbers, those of us using the tool effectively will understand why all and any growth is a likely outcome of software that helps workplace collaboration.

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

Follow Mark Thompson on Twitter.