M365 Monthly Update: February

Fall in love with the latest feature updates this February from Microsoft. We’ve rounded up our best of the bunch from the last month so you don’t have to. February might be a short month but there is no shortage of updates across the M365 suite, including a brand new employee experience platform and high-value application integrations.

1. Viva is here

What’s new:

Microsoft Viva is the new employee experience platform leveraging the power of Teams and Microsoft 365. It unifies the employee experience across four key areas — Engagement, Wellbeing, Learning and Knowledge — in an integrated experience that empowers people to be their best.

Why is this important:

The most important and impactful announcement from Microsoft since Microsoft Teams, Viva bids to redefine how employees experience their work and environment. This new offering helps people to aggregate and consolidate information from disparate sources into one place. The versatility of each pillar of Viva helps to solve specific and niche business problems and scenarios by leveraging the wider M365 ecosystem. Read more about Viva here where Matt Dodd one of our Digital Workplace Consultants expands on the benefits and implications of the new platform.

When is it coming: Viva Topics is here, Viva Insights and Viva learning will be rolling out throughout 2021

2. New file sharing experience in Microsoft Teams

What’s new:

With this update, when users share a file from within Teams (desktop/web), they will have the option to create sharing links that provide access to:

– anyone

– people with existing access

– people within your organization

– specific people, including those in a 1:1 chat, group chat, or channels

Why is this important:

This update has been a long time coming and helps to streamline file share experiences across the M365 suite. Permissions can be confusing to people just starting out with M365 and Teams so making them easier to access and configure is a winner. Previously users had to open up files and folders specifically to assign appropriate permissions, so this is a big time saver for end users.  

When is it coming:

Mid April 2021

3. Teams meetings to support view-only attendees

What’s new:

Currently, Teams meetings are limited to 300 users. If someone tries to join a meeting after it reaches capacity, they are unable to do so. With this update, meeting organizers who are assigned an appropriate license will be able to host a Teams meeting that has overflow capacity.

– Up to 20,000 view-only attendees may join a meeting from late February through the end of June

– Up to 10,000 view-only attendees may join a meeting after July 1, 2021

Why is this important:

Great to see an immediate response from Microsoft to offer an overflow for surplus meeting invitees whilst we weather the pandemic storm for the next few months. See below the different phase cycles:

– Phase 1, a temporary increase to 20,000 view-only participants runs from late February through the end of June

– Phase 2, view-only participant capacity will revert to 10,000 view-only participants on the first of July

When is it coming:

See above

4. Allowing anonymous (external) presenters in Teams Live Events

What’s new:

Your meeting organizers will now be able to schedule an anonymous presenter for a Teams live event when using the Teams desktop app.

Meeting organizers will indicate when scheduling the live event that they expect an anonymous presenter. This must be managed when scheduling the meeting. The anonymous presenter must also use the Teams desktop app.

Why is this important:

In this context, ‘anonymous presenter’ means external presenter. For live events this is huge. It was confusing previously trying to set up an external presenter in a live event for webinars before this update. It was a clunky process riddled with glitches as presenters switched from different tenant environments and back. Webinars will be smooth sailing from here!

When is it coming:

Early April 2021

5. Meeting recordings saved to OneDrive and SharePoint

What’s new:

The way Teams meeting recordings are stored is changing. The new destination is OneDrive and SharePoint instead of Microsoft Stream (Classic). You are able to opt in, opt out, or take no action with regard to these changes depending on your resourcing and/or roadmap.

Key milestones:

– October 2020 – You can enable the Teams meeting policy to save all meeting recordings into OneDrive or SharePoint

– January 2021 – All new Teams meeting recording will be saved to SharePoint and OneDrive unless modified

– July 2021 – No new meetings will be saved to Microsoft Stream

Why is this important:

Videos will soon start to act and behave like other files and documents across the M365 suite, helping training and education of features and behaviors such as permissions and sharing. This new timeline sets out the transition of storage destination from Stream to SharePoint and OneDrive allowing organisations to own their own roadmap and start to migrate across to the new Stream earlier.

When is it coming:

See above

6. Outlook Web – Reactions and new notification experience

What’s new:

Users will be able to react to email messages with like, love, laughter, celebration, surprise, and sadness. Upon applying a reaction to an email message, the reaction will be visible in the reading pane for users with an Office 365 for work or school account within the same tenant on supported Outlook apps. When someone reacts to their message, users will see an indication on the existing bell icon in Outlook on the web.

Why is this important:

Express your true emotion about that last email with reactions for emails on Outlook Web access and mobile. Beyond the gimmick, it has a deeper benefit – fewer emails. Reacting to emails in this way can negate the need to send an inbox clogging “thanks for that” or “received”. Teams can also build reactions into business processes and informal approvals to help limit the email overload.

When is it coming:

End of March 2021

7. Share to Teams from Outlook

What’s new:

Share to Teams from Outlook enables users to share an email conversation from Outlook, including attachments, to any chat or channel in any Teams client. 

When a user is sharing an email from the Outlook desktop client or Outlook on the web, Share to Teams in Outlook will either launch a window in the Teams desktop client if it is installed or open a window within Outlook. Within Teams, recipients will see a preview of the email message which they can open to view the full contents by clicking on the preview.

Why is this important:

We have already seen deep integrations across Yammer, Outlook and Teams with the fluid framework where you can like, reply and share from within different apps. This is another great addition in bridging the gap and taking work to Teams from traditional applications like Outlook.

When is it coming:

Late 2021

8. Teams meeting participant report updates

What’s new:

There are two new areas of improvement for the Teams meeting report updates:

Download point changed from roster view: The Teams meeting organizer can download the ‘Attendance Report’ from the meeting chat once the meeting is over.

New participant data: The report will now include these data points: duration, email address, meeting start time, and meeting title.

Why is this important:

Modern meetings are used for a number of different thing these days: webinars, training, catch ups, town halls etc. There is often a requirement to capture attendance and other metrics around the meetings that have been a struggle to ascertain previously. This new and improved update batch gives meeting hosts the information they need right at their finger tips.

When is it coming:

End of February 2021

9. Registration page for Microsoft Teams meetings

What’s new:

Microsoft Teams meeting organizers will be soon be able to create a custom registration page for any meeting, although the feature is designed for webinars. The feature is available for meeting organizers using Teams desktop applications (Win/Mac) and Teams on the web.

Why is this important:

As mentioned, virtual meetings are more than just meetings they are digital experiences that cover a wide range of objectives and mediums. This new update allows prospective participants to sign up to a meeting or webinar through a custom registration page created by the meeting owner.

When is it coming:

Early April 2021

10. Conversational AI coming to Outlook for iOS with Cortana

What’s new:

Outlook for iOS (iPhone and iPad) will soon support Cortana, your personal productivity assistant that offers AI-powered experiences to save time and focus attention. Outlook for iOS will also feature updates event and new message buttons.

Cortana enables voice input in Outlook for iOS. Use voice interaction to start Teams calls, schedule events and meetings in Outlook (including adding participants), and update existing events. In addition, Cortana can help users begin composing messages.

Why is this important:

Got space for another virtual friend alongside Alexa, Siri, and Google? If, like me, the novelty of conversational voice-operated AI hasn’t worn off, you’re in for a treat. From April you’ll be able to kick-off meetings, compose messages and add participants into emails all with your voice. Excited to see where the voice command corporate space will go!

When is it coming:

April 2021

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