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What’s New in Microsoft 365 | Oct 2021

Microsoft is constantly pushing out updates, changes, and new features; and we are always doing our best to highlight things that will be of particular interest to you. This month we have the announcement of Windows Server 2022 general availability, the re-branding of Insights to Microsoft Viva, and a couple new features in SharePoint.

Windows Server 2022 is now available

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The newest Windows Server is now available. The server includes advanced multi-layer security, hybrid capabilities with Azure, and a flexible platform to modernize applications with containers. With increased cyber threats, security is becoming a top priority, as it should. To address this, Windows Server 2022 uses Secured-core server and secured connectivity. To allow customers to use a hybrid approach, Windows Server 2022 connects with Azure Arc to allow the on-premises server to take advantage of cloud services. Lastly, Windows Server 2022 has improved application compatibility and the Windows Container experience with Kubernetes. Customers can also run applications that depend on Azure Active Directory with group Managed Services Accounts without domain joining the container host. There are several other improvements as well, so make sure to check out the Message Center announcement for more details.

Insights in Microsoft 365 to become part of Microsoft Viva

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Get ready to see the name Viva a whole lot more. Viva is Microsoft’s new employee experience platform, and it has acquired the daily briefing emails (reminders from Cortana), the monthly MyAnalytics emails, and the Insights Outlook add-in. Eventually, all three of these features will be re-branded under the Viva name. In addition to these changes, for users with a MyAnalytics service plan, there will be a new Viva Insights homepage where users can dive into data-driven, privacy-protected insights. We’re sure that Microsoft will add additional functionality as time goes on, but this feels an awful lot like another one of Microsoft’s pushes to pull a bunch of existing offerings together, rename it and make it a great “new” product package. Having said that, don’t be surprised when any of your Insights communications come through with the Viva name all over them.

Improvements to the Text web part for SharePoint pages and news

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This change is a big one, and we are sure that many of you will be very happy to hear about it. SharePoint’s Text web part will receive a handful of improvements this month. The most significant change will allow users to add images to the Text web part so that they can be aligned with and wrapped by the text. This makes it much easier to have images highlight the text of your SharePoint pages and news. Small issues such as line spacing between headers, text and bullet points will be addressed too. In the past, there was an excessive amount of space in these places, but this space will be reduced with these improvements. Though minor, improvements such as these will improve overall functionality.

New SharePoint hub to hub associations

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We have been waiting for this for some time – the ability to associate hub sites with other hub sites. Only administrators can associate hub sites in the Admin Center. Associating hubs doesn’t join the navigation of the hubs or change any of the layout of the sites involved, but it does allow users to search content across all sites related to the associated hubs.

If you want users to be able to navigate to associated hubs, you will still have to manually add the links to the navigation. With or without the added navigation, when users search for content, they will get results from all sites related to associated hubs provided they have permission to access the items. Search results will display a breadcrumb path at the top of the page, as well as the hub name where the content can be found. One of the biggest benefits of this functionality is for company intranets to make content easier for users to find.

As always, there are a lot of things happening in Microsoft 365, so be sure to check out the Tech Community Blogs and the Microsoft 365 Roadmap for more of what’s new.  

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