Microsoft 365 new announcements – week 11/2021

Calendar week 11 is over, time to have a short look at the (many) updates that Microsoft delivered during the last days. As far as possible, roadmap links are included as well as timelines – and last but not least: my opinion about the features, that include some tips or thoughts from the field.

Microsoft 365 General

DLP data sets in Microsoft 365 Activity explorer

This is interesting for you, if you are using DLP policies (i.e., Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, OneDrive, and Teams DLP). Currently all is in the Audit Logs, after the rollout you can additionally see it in the Activity explorer. The activity will be named DLP rule matched.

Roadmap ID: 70730

Rollout: between March and mid-April

My opinion: an update that makes absolutely sense!

Opt-In for service health notifications

Admins can set up a notification via email (limited to two addresses) for special news that are posted in the service health dashboard, e.g. a certain incident.

Roadmap ID: 68717

Rollout: now

My opinion: the limitation for 2 email addresses is not good. Try to use a distribution group for that.

Auto-claim licenses

This is currently only available for Microsoft Teams. Using that feature, you can provide a pool of licenses and these are assigned by the first come – first serve principle. When all are assigned and another user claims a license, a billing admin (or similar) needs to buy more.

For auto-claim an admin can define policies from which package the license will be assigned.

My opinion: Anyone who uses an own script/program or groubased licensing will ignore this. Others (especially small companies) can make good use of that feature to save some time in administrative work. It also may help in saving license cost when you look at the un-used licenses.

Microsoft 365 Apps

ToDo support experience

MacOS will no more be an in-app chat, it will raise a support ticket. Clicking on “Get support” from “Help” will open a webpage from where support tickets can be raised. This was treated as emergency rollout in the app update 2.39

My opinion: Why does this have to be an emergency update? Tell me if you understand, I don't get it.

Excel for the web improvements

Microsoft committed that Excel Online will be better & faster within the next months. That’s quite a good idea – have you ever had an Excel sheet with several thousand lines and formulas open for edit in a browser? Then you know why it is a good idea. Seems like Microsoft received a lot of feedback about that. So here is what they change now for usability:

  • Users can navigate directly to a certain worksheet when opening the Excel file
  • You can “select multiple ranges which are not adjacent to each other – and fill color or copy-and paste” (quote from Excel blog – link below). Holding the Ctrl key now enables selecting multiple ranges.
  • Zoom by using your touchscreen or trackpad, Ctrl+mousewheel, Ctrl Alt +/- key and zoom between 25 and 200%
  • Access the version history directly inside the opened Excel file
  • Adjust the regional settings in Excel for the web (date/time, number and currency format)
  • Support for keyboard shortcuts

See the Excel Blog for more details about that.

Rollout: (standard release) from early April, (gov) from early June

My opinion: very useful features and with keyboard shortcuts the powerusers get a similar look&feel in the browser like in their clients. I like it!

Excel Trust Center – block Excel 4.0 macros (XLM)

Many companies block macros because they can be a high security risk (though they are sometimes quite useful to build powerful Excel “applications”).

Users will see that new option in the trust center:

Excel trust center

This will of course only be available if you have not centrally set this via GPO or Intune Policy.

  • If you prefer to disable the old XLM macros but leave VBA allowed, leave this setting unchecked in your GPO.
  • Set this GPO if you want to block all. The used registry key is: \HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Office\16.0\excel\security
    There might be a subkey “XLM” in this registry path, this will be retired.

Roadmap ID: 70568

Rollout: (Insider slow) already has this feature rolled out; (Monthly Enterprise Channel) June 2021

My opinion: I don't know a company that wants to split it. The ability is nice, but I predict that most will block everything.

Exchange Online

Request/Release workflow for quarantined messages

EOP, anti-spam, Microsoft Defender for Office 365 anti-phishing, anti-malware and Microsoft Defender for Office 365 safe attachment policis are able to quarantine elements. Currently users cannot request to release an item from quarantine, this will be added. Admins can control if users will be granted the new capabilities.

Roadmap ID: 62449 and 62450

Rollout: (standard release) from early April, (gov) from early June

My opinion: an update that makes absolutely sense!

Customizing the EOP digest

There will be a new quarantine policy user interface where an admin can configure the look&feel for an anti-spam digest. It may look like this for example:

the new customizable quarantine digest

Roadmap ID: 64781

Rollout: (standard release) from early April until end of June, (gov) from early June until end of June

My opinion: I have stopped count how often my customers asked for this. Many many people will be so happy about that!

SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business

Multilingual communication sites get an easier UI

Since 2020 a site owner can enable multiple languages for a site or news. Now the editors get an easy way to manage the languages on a site:

The MUI elements are supported in:

  • site name and description
  • site and hub navigation
  • footer name and navigation

Roadmap ID: 79847

Rollout: (targeted release) from late March 2021, (standard release) until late May 2021

My opinion: good feature.

SharePoint classic site usage reports

These move to a new home:

SPO site usage reports

Rollout: mid-April through late May

My opinion: ok, but the earth would still rotate if that would not be done

Quick permissions in share control window

There is not much to say, just have a short look at the screenshot and you understand what this is:

Roadmap ID: 70806

Rollout: (standard) early April to mid-April; (targeted) late March to early April

My opinion: Makes sense and makes sharing easier for some documents.

Focus mode for modern SharePoint pages

Focus mode means that all “not necessary” will be hidden on a SPO site. This is the site header, navigation and global navigation bar. To do that there will be a tiny expand button on the site – like you know it from Outlook on the web.

Roadmap ID: 70800

Rollout: (targeted) late March to late April; (standard) early May to late May

My opinion: Looks very good and will be helpful to focus on the content. For me this also looks like a small milestone for the Viva implementation.

Microsoft Teams

De-identify PIIs in admin usage reports

Today, if you query Teams admin usage reports, the datasets contain information about the specific user and you have users or CxOs or anybody “powerful” in your organization who is concerned about privacy:

Teams usage report

To respect privacy and de-identify the data there will be a changed behaviour that will modify the reports Teams user activity report and Teams device usage:

By default, this setting is off. After you turn this on, the following will happen:

  • The UIs will no more show the DisplayNames of users
  • The Exports will no more show ID, DisplayName and userName

Roadmap ID: 70774

Rollout: early April to and mid-April

My opinion: Absolutely necessary and long awaited update for de-identifying data. That is a critical topic at nearly every company that needs to be discussed.

Custom policy packages

With this feature you will be able to create your own policy packages. The force to use pre-defined packages will be removed. The bad thing is, that each user that will receive a custom policy package, needs an Advanced Communications License. See the documentation for details.

Roadmap ID: 70776

My opinion: why the Advanced Communication License? Why does Microsoft make it so hard to manage Teams Users? Policy Packages only with extra licenses, batch assignments, ....

Teams PowerShell version 2.0 available

Install the new module:

Install-Module -Name MicrosoftTeams -MinimumVersion 2.0.0
Code language: CSS (css)

Connect-MicrosoftTeams now connects to the SfB backend. Thus, the command New-CsOnlineSession is no more necessary.

My opinion: the next step in the evolution of Teams PowerShell that makes absolutely sense!

Teams templates -> customizable websites

With this update you will be able to add a custom website to a Teams template.

Roadmap ID: 70794

My opinion: Makes absolutely sense. More features for templates please! That saves a lot of time.

Disable attendee’s camera in meetings

Ever had an attendee who had a terrible video (for whatever reason 😉 )? Soon you can remotely turn off his videostream (if you are organizer or presenter):

disable participant’s video

You can even plan this when sending out the meeting invite:

disable attendee video already in the meeting invite

Forms polls in Teams meetings

This feature is in general not new. It enables you to start a poll inside a running Teams meeting. The announcement now is that this will work fine on mobile, too (edit and participate):

Forms in Teams meetings

As usual, you need the presenter role to be able to use that functionality.

Roadmap ID: 79448

Rollout: mid-April to late April

My opinion: same experience over all devices. Great!

Outgoing Video in Safari

Using Safari for Teams meetings was not always fun in the past. But it gets better and better. Teams in the browser is constantly evolving and making Safari a supported platform. The newest step is outgoing video. So now Safari users can enable their camera in Teams meetings when they participate with Safari.

Roadmap ID: 81381

Rollout: late March

My opinion: Mac users were forced to use a browser like Google Chrome in the past - soon they can use their favourite browser Safari. This will make many Apple users very happy.

PowerPoint Live in Teams: Slide Translation

When you use the desktop app of Teams and use PowerPoint Live, then the attendees will be able to translate the content into a language of their choice during the meeting. There are 19 languages available at start.

Roadmap ID: 80601

Rollout: early April to late April

My opinion: When time has come and the other language features work properly for all languages (live transcript for example) this will be a really very cool complete feature to circumvent language barriers. And of course PowerPoint Live must also be rolled out and work fine.

Microsoft Viva

Viva Connections for Microsoft Teams desktop clients

Formerly there was a feature called Home Site App – this is now Viva Connections for Teams. It is intended as intelligent SPO site with integrated Teams chat and collaboration. More information and How-Tos in a blogpost that will come soon.

You should now start configure a SharePoint home site with global navigation in the SharePoint app bar. This can be used in Viva. For start, you need a PowerShell Script that will be released on March 31. Very soon a UI may follow.

Roadmap ID: 66584

Rollout: End of March

My opinion: Viva was a big announcement on spring Ignite 2021, so Microsoft needs to hurry up to release all features. All I've seen is not so new but looks interesting when fused together to Viva.

Microsoft Planner

Mobile Push for Planner

The push notifications will be sent via direct push for notifications. The content will be sent via Google and Apple push services. Furthermore ad admin will be able to control this (a little). It will be possible to turn this on or off. Read here to learn how to do that.

Rollout: from mid-March

My opinion: okay, why not. Not a big feature but nice to have.

Published by Andreas

Founder of M365 Evangelists Cloud-Architect, Strategy Consultant, Consultant for Microsoft technologies, Graph API enthusiast, PowerShell enthusiast
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