Microsoft 365 updates: August

The lockdowns keep coming and so do the Microsoft 365 updates. As we continue to grapple with government restrictions and hybrid work styles, this month’s updates may have passed you by. But don’t worry, we have rounded up the top 10 Microsoft 365 updates for August that you should have on your radar this month. Stay safe and see you in September.

1. Lightweight Plans in Planner

What’s new:

Planner now supports plans that don’t require an M365 Group, which we are calling “Lightweight plans”. Instead of using Groups, access to these plans is determined by a simple list of members stored in Planner that can contain any user with a valid AAD ID in that tenant.

Why is this important?

The new hybrid work innovations in Microsoft Teams Rooms, Fluid, and Microsoft Viva, meeting participants can quickly capture tasks and expect them to automatically sync into the Microsoft 365 Task Ecosystem (Planner, To do/Outlook, and Teams Task app). To enable this, meetings create a plan in Planner for the captured tasks.

When is it coming:

Starting in mid-September

Completing in mid-October

2. Teams Breakout Rooms Presenter support

What’s new:

The ability for organisers to extend the management of Breakout Rooms to specific presenters is coming to Teams. This feature will enable meeting organisers to add and remove presenters as Breakout Room managers.

Why is this important:

Organisers who will configure and manage Breakout Rooms on a Teams desktop client will have access to appoint Presenters as Breakout Room managers. Currently, only users who are named presenters from the same tenant are supported to become Breakout rooms managers.

When Breakout Room managers join the meeting, they will see the Breakout Rooms icon in toolbar.

When is it coming:

Starting in mid-September

Completing in late-September

3. Pre-meeting break out room creation

What’s new:

Meeting organisers will soon be able to create rooms ahead of a meeting start and perform participant assignment tasks (both auto and manual) in advance.

Why is this important:

Via this capability, organisers of Channel and Private meetings will be able to perform the following Breakout Rooms configuration tasks before a meeting begins:

– Bulk creating / deleting rooms

– Adding / deleting / renaming individual rooms

– Configuring meeting options for each room

– Adjusting settings for breakout rooms session (timer, selecting breakout rooms managers and more)

– Pre-assigning participants via both manual and automatic assignment options

When is it coming:

Starting in mid-September

Completing in late-September

4. Frontline worker onboarding wizard

What’s new:

The frontline worker (FLW) onboarding wizard empowers IT admins to pilot and deploy Teams for frontline workers in just a few steps.

Why is this important:

This wizard allows admins to streamline team creation, license assignment, and policy package assignment from the Microsoft Admin Centre.

When is it coming:

Starting in mid-September

Completing in mid-October

5. Spam Notification in Call Toast 

What’s new:

Spam Call Notifications will enable calls that are likely Spam calls to be identified in the call toast. This is rolling out to Teams desktop and web. All answered or missed calls that are likely Spam calls will be reflected respectively in the call history screen as well.

Why is this important:

Users will be able to save time by not answering calls that likely spam. The spam notification label will automatically show up on calls that are likely Spam calls.

When is it coming:

Completing last August

6. Modern comments in Word (Windows)

What’s new:

The new comments experience in Word will boast improved keyboard shortcuts as well as improved @mentions and notifications. This experience unifies how comments work across Word, Excel, and PPT.

Why is this important:

When this has rolled out to your users, they will see the modern comments experience, which allows them to @mention and post comments without worrying that co-authors will see their comments before they are complete.

Modern comments provides a consistent commenting experience across Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Users will be able to respond to comments directly from an email notification.

When is it coming?

General availability end of August

7. Viva Connections app visible in Teams 

What’s new:

Though the app cannot be installed or used at this time, Teams users will be able to search for and see an app store entry for Viva Connections.

If you have installed the Viva Connections for Teams Desktop only, via PowerShell script, there is no impact to your experience. This will continue functioning as it is today.

Why is this important:

Viva Connections keeps everyone informed and engaged about what’s happening across the organisation with an individually tailored feed that includes contributions from your employees. Hone your delivery with powerful targeting and scheduling capabilities.

When is it coming:

From mid August

8. SharePoint collapsible sections

What’s new:

This new feature will allow users to create rich, information-dense SharePoint pages. As part of this release, we will enable the page author to configure sections within the SharePoint page to be able to expand, collapse and set the default page-load state for the section.

Why is this important:

Collapsible sections are loved far and wide and are on of the highest requested text formatting features. For many years custom ‘accordion’ webparts filled the gap by now you can enjoy a fully supported out of the box solution.

When is it coming:

Completing in late September

9. SharePoint spaces adds styles for text and annotation icons

What’s new:

This new SharePoint spaces feature enables the creation of immersive mixed reality environments that can be authored and published just like SharePoint pages. The new styles feature for text and annotation icons simplifies creation of consistent and great looking content. Text styles make consistent formatting easy to apply with just a click. Annotation icon styles allow customisation of icon, size, and visual style for icons used to highlight specific content in the spaces 360° tour web part.

Why is this important:

For text styles, authors will see an option to select from four default styles in the property pane of the spaces text web part. They can modify these default styles and can also add four more custom styles. If they don’t need to use styles, they can still manually customise the formatting of a text web part using existing options.


When is it coming:

Starting in late-August

Completing in mid-September

10. Microsoft 365 roadmap gets a new look

What’s new:

The way you view, filter, search and sort for the upcoming Microsoft updates is changing.

Why is this important:

Key UI changes:

– You will be able to see tags organised by category (product, release phase, platform, cloud instance)

– Filters will be moving just below the header image, inline with the search bar, so it’s easier to view your selected filters and if you have search turned on

– Status will be represented visually on the feature card to save space and make it easier to perform a quick scan

When is it coming:

Starting in early-September

We release a monthly Microsoft 365 updates blog at the end of each month. Read last month’s blog here.

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