Microsoft 365 new announcements – week 12/2021

Calendar week 12 has passed, time to have a short look at all the Microsoft 365 news from this week.

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. The categories in this article:

Microsoft 365 General

Microsoft 365 Apps

Exchange Online

SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business

Microsoft Teams

Power Platform

Microsoft 365 General

Self-Service purcahse

In the cw11 article of that series, I’ve described you auto-claim. Now the next step is being done: Self-Service Purchase. Users all over the world (except India, GOV and EDU tenants) will be able to acquire a license/subscription for these products:

  • PowerBI premium (per user)
  • PowerAutomate (per user plan with automated RPA)

Once a user has bought a license as self-service purchase an administrator can move that license over to another license type, e.g. a company subscription. To control what users are allowed to do, you need the PowerShell module MSCommerce which can be installed from PowerShellGallery.

If you have already added custom configuration in the past (e.g. prevent users from self-service purchase), control your settings now and add the new license types as well.

Rollout: April 10, 2021

My opinion: It sounds useful, but I know tons of customers that do NOT want their users to buy licenses by themselves. Approximately 99% will (or should?) disable that feature.

Windows Update for Business deployment service

Microsoft starts providing Graph API calls to manage updates. That includes:

  • schedule
  • safeguard
  • approval

… of cloud connected Windows 10 devices. To use that service you need one of the following licenses:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5
  • Windows 10 Education A3 / A5
  • Windows Virtual Desktop Access E3 / E5

This will be a feature that is not activated by default, it will be opt-in. You can find instructions at https://aka.ms/wufb/deployment-service.

Roadmap ID: 70796

Rollout: April 15, 2021

My opinion: Another step away from on-premises management to cloud-based. I like it!

Bye, Uservoice

In the last years, customers were able to provide feedback and wishes about Microsoft 365 products by using UserVoice. This platform is open for anyone, not just Microsoft or partners or similar. Now (for reasons I don’t know), Microsoft moves away from UserVoice during 2021. There are some other channels in future. For example in-app, Feedback Hub, Tech Community. See more options here.

My opinion: I loved UserVoice. It gives a good idea of what the customers all over the world request and need on 1 centralized platform. I regularly searched for features and ideas.
Moving away from that will make it complicated. I personally am not happy with that.

Whiteboard available for Android

Whiteboard is widely in use, more and more customers use it in daily business. Unfortunately there was no Android app until now. This is something I was very unhappy about, too during the last months. Of course Whiteboard is not perfect (if you want to know what I mean start a Whiteboard session with 20+ people) but it is a cool useful tiny tool.

Whiteboard on Android will be supported on Android 6.0 or later. See the screenshots below (taken from Microsoft Whiteboard – Apps on Google Play) for more details on how it will look

Roadmap ID: 72196

Rollout: now

My opinion: THANK YOU!! Finally it is there!

New release cycle for Microsoft Edge (modern)

From Edge version 94, Microsoft adopts the 4-week major release cycle (previously 6 weeks). Microsoft will then start offering an additional 8-weeks extended stable build.

My opinion: The web is the most agile ecosystem so it is only logical to follow that.

Microsoft Forms: Correct answer in polls

A poll is intended to get an opinion or even to test the skills of certain people. Unfortunately this is not possible in Microsoft Forms. That includes Forms polls that are raised during a Teams meeting. You had to use other 3rd party tools which cannot be integrated into a Teams meeting and need a lot of explanation how to enter and use it (despite there are really good ones in the web).

With this update, presenters can add a Forms poll and mark a correct answer in a multiple choice question. The attendees will get immediate feedback about their answer:

Roadmap ID: 80519

Rollout: Mid-April to late April

My opinion: Overdue, because that is a very basic functionality in a poll. But better late than never.

Microsoft 365 Apps

Profanity filters available in new languages

The Microsoft 365 Apps are extended with filters against profanity, threat and harassment for the following languages:

  • Chinese (simplified)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Portuguese
  • Spanish

Roadmap ID: 70623

Rollout: late March to Mid-April

My opinion: It is so pity that such a feature is needed. But it is as it is...

Exchange Online

OWA showing My Day

My Day is a ToDo feature. An explicit access to that is currently missing. Microsoft is going to add that to OWA now.

The tasks from My Day will be shown focused.

Roadmap ID: 72174

Rollout: (targeted) late March; (standard) until early May

My opinion: a feature that makes sense in general. I didn't get the point if it is only My Day or all tasks that are scheduled for today.

SharePoint Online & OneDrive for Business

Microsoft Lists new drop down menu: Integrate

As you know, Microsoft Lists is based on Microsoft SharePoint. SharePoint is a good source for connections to several products. These connections get a new home in the menu – a drop down called Integrate. This menu will look like that:

As you can see, the menus Power Apps and Power Automate are the first ones that move to the new home.

Roadmap ID: 64869

Rollout: (targeted) from late March; (standard) until Mid-April

My opinion: This is not a gamechanger, companies need to train that. But a clean Ribbon is a good idea anyway.

Microsoft Teams

Date & Time format

Currently Microsoft Teams has its own Date&Time settings, that do not reflect the operation system settings. That changes now. So, if you have different settings on your Windows or Mac and in your Teams client, then the client will soon reflect the settings from the operating system.

My opinion: Makes absolutely sense.

Call Merge

Everyone that had multiple calls at the same time knows that problem: You have 2 or 3 people on separate lines and all have the same topic. Ideally, there is one big call and everyone can talk to each other. For that, Teams will not get a solution: Call Merge. It will support 1:1 and group calls (as target) as well as Teams Voice and PSTN calls.

Roadmap ID: 66054

Rollout: from late March to mid-April

My opinion: cool feature - I already know it because of the pre-release ring that delivers the updates to me. It is great and I already love to use it.

Allow only organizaton participants to bypass the lobby

This feature was announced on spring Ignite 2021 (if I remember correctly). It will allow an organizer of a Teams meeting to restrict lobby bypass. It gives you the ability to set People in my organization when configuring lobby bypass:

As usual, the default can be set via Teams admin center. The setting will work in Teams desktop client.

Roadmap ID: 81376

My opinion: okay.

Teams Approvals templates

You may know Teams approvals as powerful tool. Wouldn’t it be cool to have templates for approvals? That will speed up things even further because you do not have to create each approval from scratch each time you start an approval.

Microsoft will now launch Teams approval templates. Admins and owners can create these by duplicating out-of-the-box templates or creating new ones from scratch. MS has provided an animation how the creation process will look:

Roadmap ID: 81408

Rollout: approximately Mid-April

My opinion: I like what I see, I am looking forward in trying it.

Adobe Sign signatures in Teams approvals

Each company has approvals that are highly critical. For these there needs to be a barrier that not a wrong person can approve or decline a request. To address that, Microsoft enables the Teams Desktop and Web Clients to make use of Adobe Sign signatures.

The signatures can also be added to template approvals (see above) and work internal and externally. The admin task before starting is to enable Adobe Sign integration in Approvals.

When a signed approval is needed, the approver will receive an email from Adobe. This will contain further instructions. If the signer is an internal person, Teams will also send a notification.

To make use of that, an Adobe Account is needed. The integration of further 3rd party is planned but no real roadmap yet.

Roadmap ID: 81407

Rollout: Mid-April

My opinion: I would prefer to see own signature support based on self-signed certificate by an internal or external PKI. But I understand that Adobe Sign is a big vendor that is supported first.

New emojis

I hate plan text messages – sometimes. I love messages with emojis, because they give you the power to transport feelings and irony or sarcasm (which I use quite often). Microsoft now extends the list of emojis supported by Teams. There have been 85 emojis which is good, but now you have more than 800 emojis

​​​​​​​The new (cool) emojis are supported on all Teams clients except mobile.

Roadmap ID: 81403

Rollout: late April to late May

My optinion: YIPPIEH! Some will say that is absolutely useless, I have the complete opposite opinion, it fits to my attitude "gamification of life" :) 

Multiple spotlights

You surely know meetings where several people are worthy to be kept in focus for everyone. In Teams this will be solved by a feature called multiple spotlight. This will support up to 7 highlighted people.

This spotlight is being controlled by presenters and organizers.

Roadmap ID: 80425

Rollout: Mid-April to end of April

Voice-enabled channels (collaborative calling)

When this is rolled out, a new Tab Calls will appear in channels. That will provide a call history for the agents in the channel. This will enable the agents to:

  • opt-in status of cohort agents
  • call queue’s shared voicemail

Existing call queues will not be modified, this only counts for new ones.

Roadmap ID: 68770

Rollout: late March to early April

My opinion: sounds like this will make sense for call center agents and group numbers

Supervised chat for Teams private chats

You may have some users in your organization that may not start private chats. With this feature, even restricted users can start such a chat when a supervisor is present. The feature will work in Teams Desktop, Web and mobile.

This is intended to work only for new chats, existing ones are not affected.

Roadmap ID: 81359

Rollout: Mid-April to early May 2021

My opinion: I can only think of a support scenario with Firstline workers where this will be useful

Enhanced attendee audio in Teams meetings

Today, when you have a Teams meeting, you can disable unmute for everyone. When an attendee wants to say something, a presenter must enable everyone to unmute. An individual allowance is not possible.

This is going to be changed, so that the audience is muted (without permission to unmute) and one individual attendee is allowed to unmute himself and ask questions (or add a comment). It will also be possible to prevent unmuting for dialed in attendees.

Roadmap ID: 80261

Rollout: early April to late April

Teams Live event recording policy

From the point of release, Teams implementation will fully respect the policy setting Never record. Until now, a live events organizer could enable attendee recordings. After the change all live event recordings will be disabled for everyone.

Rollout: end of April

My opinion: off should be off and not "maybe off" - so it makes sense.

Improved search in participants roster

When you have a large meeting, Teams reduces the number of shown participants. But you may need to search for a specific participant in the lobby or the meeting. This will be available soon:

As you can see in the screenshots, the search delivers results from all meeting sources, so that you will find the person you need.

Roadmap ID: 80421

Rollout: late March to mid-April

My opinion: I've already used the pre-release version of that feature in large meetings. It is very useful.

Cleaned up participant roster

A new look and feel is always good, especially when it looks clean after the new version is launched. Microsoft does that now for the participants roster in Teams meetings. There has already been a similar look and feel in Skype for Business before. The maximum number of displayed participants will be limited to 20, but can be expanded to 260. Additional the presenters will be shown separately:

Roadmap ID: 80385

Rollout: late March to Mid-April

My opinion: I've already used that feature (as well) in a preview version. Believe me, it is very useful.

Power Platform

Configure Data Loss Prevention with PowerShell

When you have the appropriate module installed – Microsoft.PowerApps.Administration.PowerShell – there is a function included with the wonderful name ReplacePolicyEnvironmentsForOnlyEnvironmentType. With that command you can set a policy for an environment. Microsoft recommends to run that on a schedule to make sure that all environments are always “up-to-date”.

See this link in the official Microsoft documentation for more details.

My opinion: I did not do Power Platform for too long, so for now, I don't have an opinion on that.

Published by Andreas

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