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What’s New in Microsoft 365 | April 2023

The annual Microsoft 365 Conference is already coming up next month, time flies. As is typically the case when one the larger Microsoft conference’s is imminent, we have quite a few messages that will have some impact on all parties involved in the Microsoft 365 suite. This month we even have an update to one of our update tracking tools to provide a little bit of a meta experience. Two of the messages we chose to cover this month will not have short-term implications for 99% of the folks reading this, however, longer term the new Teams client and Microsoft 365 Copilot messages will be very impactful!

Preview the New Microsoft Teams Windows Client

Please read the message summary and supporting documentation carefully prior to attempting to check out this preview. There are quite a few things that won’t work as expected for you. And while there are workarounds to many of the pieces of functionality that are missing, it will be a poor experience if you are attempting to use this Teams preview as your sole instance of Microsoft Teams. AKA: This is very much still in a preview state. 

The machine resource reduction is awesome, but as folks who have access to a significant number of Microsoft 365 environments, we are very interested in the improvements around switching tenants. We are really hoping the experience is like switching Azure environments and based on the preview it looks like that will be the case.  A couple important notes on this preview:

  • No estimated time of arrival on general availability currently
  • Strongly suggest IT groups review the documentation around the preview in the near term

Message Summary

Today we’re starting to roll out the preview of the new Microsoft Teams desktop app for Windows. The new Microsoft Teams desktop app is built on a foundation of speed, performance, and flexibility—saving you time and helping your organization work together more efficiently.

How will this benefit my organization

Our goal for the new Teams app is to make it twice as fast while using half the system resources. We aren’t done optimizing the performance of new Teams, but we are already seeing common scenarios such as app load and meeting join hit that goal, as well as a 50% reduction in memory. We have also observed significant gains in installation time, disk space used, chat and channel switch time, search, and more.

The new Teams app also adds support for organizations that have multiple tenants and users who must manage multiple accounts. Users can be signed into multiple tenants and accounts simultaneously and receive notifications no matter which one is currently in use.

Note: Not all customer segments (Education, Special Cloud, GCC, GCC-High and DoD) and platforms (Mac, VDI, and Web) will receive this update at this time. While the new Teams preview includes much of the same functionality as classic Teams, there are a few features which are not yet available. Visit this page to learn more about what’s currently available and what’s coming up.

How will I preview the new Teams experience

  • If you are in the public preview program, you will have access to the Try the new Teams toggle. Our preview roll out will begin on March 27, 2023 and expected to complete over the following week.
  • If you are in the Targeted release program, you will have access to the preview of new Teams starting mid-April. Please refer to MC post MC510331 for Targeted release rollout timelines. Prior to this announcement, the Targeted release provided early access to OneDrive for Business, SharePoint Online, Office for the web, Microsoft 365 admin center, and some components of Exchange Online. Admins and select users in the Targeted release program can be among the first to see the latest Teams innovations.

Note: Admins can choose individuals or the entire organization to receive updates in the Targeted release program.

  • If you are in production, as an admin you will have the option to opt-in your users by using the Teams update management policy to select which users in your organization can see the toggle and get access to new Teams. Users can use the new Teams and switch back to classic Teams anytime. Our goal is to ensure you are fully empowered to try new Teams in a manner that’s right for you as early as possible.

Visit the admin pagesupport article or download resources to learn how to get started with previewing the new Teams experience.

Additional information

Help and support


Microsoft Authenticator Lite in Outlook

Short and to the point: IT folks, if you do not want to enable this for users you must disable it by May 26th, 2023. When Microsoft bolds the “What you need to do to prepare” section text there is a strong possibility you will need to dig into the message.

Message Summary

Authenticator Lite (in Outlook) is a feature that allows your users to complete multi-factor authentication for their work or school account using Outlook on their iOS or Android device. This feature will be enabled on May 26th for all tenants that have not disabled it. If you do not wish for this feature to be enabled on May 26th, move the state to ‘disabled’ or set user include and exclude groups prior to May 26th.

We always recommend having users download Authenticator to complete their sign-ins, where we can offer the most up-to-date security features. However, users that have not downloaded the app to their device can now approve authentication requests and receive TOTP codes in Outlook, bringing the security of Authenticator to a convenient location.

Admins can enable this feature by leveraging the Authentication Methods policy in Azure Active Directory. 

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 122289

When this will happen

Rollout of this feature in Outlook will begin in early March, starting public preview. Feature controls are available via MS Graph.

This feature will move to general availability in late April 2023.

On May 26th, this feature will be enabled for all users by default unless admins have taken action to disable or enable it before then. Any settings configured before May 26th will not be changed. 

What you need to do to prepare:

Starting mid-March, you can choose to enable this preview for your users from Azure Active Directory. We highly recommend that you enable users that are not already using the Microsoft Authenticator app (or another strong authentication method) for this feature at the start of public preview. This feature brings a security enhancement to those users still using telecom transports to authenticate.

This feature will roll out to tenants in the state ‘Microsoft managed’. For the duration of public preview, leaving the feature set to ‘Microsoft managed’ will have no impact on your users and the feature will remain turned off. In April 2023, we will remove preview tags and enter general availability. At GA, ‘Microsoft managed’ will remain set to disabled and there will be no tenant impact. On May 26th 2023, if the feature is still set to ‘Microsoft managed’, your tenant will be eligible to be enabled for this feature by Microsoft, as ‘Microsoft managed’ will be set to enabled. If you do not wish for this feature to be enabled on May 26th, move the state to ‘disabled’ or set users to include and exclude group prior to May 26th. 

Additional information

Microsoft Excel: Get & Transform Data

Feel like this one should have got a bit more context to emphasize its importance. It would be great if everyone was using full-fledge reporting & visualization tools but many organizations still rely heavily on Power Query via Excel. We have seen some remarkable ingenuity from business users building complex applications using only Excel and Power Query. Unfortunately, most of the folks using those applications have no idea what is going on behind the scenes.

Strongly advise pushing out the required libraries to the user base for managed devices and informing users on non-managed devices of this update!

Message Summary

We will be updating Get & Transform Data tools in Excel (aka Power Query).

When this will happen

Starting June 1, 2023, Get & Transform Data tools in Excel will require additional libraries to be installed to continue working.

How does this affect your organization

If your tenant has any existing Get & Transform Data (aka Power Query) queries, Power Query will not be accessible after the specified date. Any user who tries to use it after June 1st will receive an error message.

If you don’t use Power Query, you may dismiss this message. 

What you need to do to prepare

You will need to install:

  1. .NET framework v4.7.2 – for Power Query, in general
  2. WebView2 framework – for the From Web (Power Query) data connector 

Inform your helpdesk and update documentation as appropriate. 

For additional information, please refer to About Get & Transform (Power Query) in Excel

Microsoft Teams: Green screen feature in Teams Meetings

Fortunately, I have a dedicated office within my home and work remotely quite frequently. While this new feature may not be for me, I’m sure some folks will be super excited about this. Please be sure to read through the “fine print” on this one though…your web cam is not going to magically turn into a $50,000 camera at your local news station!

Message Summary

Microsoft Teams will soon be releasing a new green screen feature for users. The virtual background with a green screen will provide an enhanced virtual background effect.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 117941

When this will happen

Public Preview: We will complete rollout by late March.

Standard and GCC: We will begin rolling out in mid-April and expect to complete rollout by late April.

GCC-H: We will begin rolling out in early May and expect to complete rollout by mid-May.

DoD: We will begin rolling out in early June and expect to complete rollout by late June.

How this will affect your organization

Green screen improves the sharpness and definition of the virtual background effect around your face, head, ears, and hair. It also allows you to show a prop or other object in your hand to be more visible to other participants in a call. 

Supports the following:

  • Desktop platforms: Windows and macOS with Intel chips, not supporting Mac M1/M2
  • Device: Requires a solid color screen or clean background wall behind you
  • User Experience: Users must apply a background effect in Teams meetings to enable the green screen effect and should select the correct backdrop color so that the effect is applied correctly and better quality is achieved

Known limitations:

  • Green screen will automatically disable background blur and Together Mode while being compatible with Presenter modes like Standout, Side-by-Side and Reporter, PowerPoint Live Standout, and background replacement (JPEG/PNG).
  • Transparent or translucent objects cannot produce a good green screen effect.
  • If the object is too thin, it cannot be properly detected.

To enable:

Please make sure that you have applied a background effect in Teams meeting before enabling the green screen effect and chosen the correct backdrop color so that the effect is applied correctly. Please also ensure you have a solid color screen or clean background wall behind you.

  • After you join a meeting, click the “More” icon in the meeting toolbar, go to “Video effects.”
  • When the “Video effects” panel page is open, go to “Green Screen Settings” in Backgrounds section and click the link to turn on the Green screen toggle button under “Teams settings -> Devices -> Green screen.”
  • Click the backdrop icon and move your mouse cursor into the Preview box to manually pick backdrop color.
  • Return to your meeting.

What you need to do to prepare:

You may want to update your training materials indicating that this feature is available to users.

Announcing Microsoft 365 Copilot

We’ve been using GitHub Copilot for quite some time, and from what we have seen the cloud-based artificial intelligence tooling continues to improve. That coupled with Microsoft’s recent foray into ChatGPT makes this an unsurprising announcement but interesting, nonetheless. As it’s only in preview within select organizations there likely will not be much to learn from this upfront, but we are very interested in how the licensing model will work once the feature becomes more widely available.

Message Summary

Today we announced Microsoft 365 Copilot – new experience that combines the power of large language models with your data in the Microsoft Graph and the Microsoft 365 apps. Copilot is integrated into Microsoft 365 in two ways. First, it works alongside the user, embedded in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, and more. Second, we’ve also introduced Business Chat that works across all Microsoft 365 apps and data in real-time: user’s calendar, emails, chats, documents, meetings, and contacts.

How this will affect your organization

Integrated into Microsoft 365, Copilot automatically inherits all of your company’s security, compliance, identity, and privacy policies and processes. Two-factor authentication, compliance boundaries, privacy protections, and more make Copilot the AI solution you can trust. Copilot works only with content to which your users already have permission to access.

Today’s announcement does not impact any Azure Active Directory (AAD) users in your organization, as the new features are currently only available to a limited set of commercial customers through a Private Preview program.

As these services become more broadly available, we will be providing admins with an advance notice and technical documentation about available controls and policies.

What you need to do to prepare

There is nothing you need to do at this time. As soon as the additional roll out dates are ready to be announced, we will inform you through the Message Center in the Microsoft 365 admin center. You can also follow these features on Microsoft 365 public roadmap website.

Learn more about other technical details in this blog.


Microsoft 365 Roadmap Updates

To provide some clarity on the rollout cycle of features Microsoft is changing some labels on the Microsoft 365 Roadmap. This makes a ton of sense as one of the more common questions we get asked is “Why don’t I see this in my tenant yet? It says Generally Available.”. Ideally, this nuanced change will alleviate some of those inquires but only time will tell. It’s easy to forget that Microsoft is pushing out updates and enhancements to over 300 million folks across the world…that can take some time😉.

Message Summary

We’re making some changes to the Microsoft 365 roadmap to better articulate preview availability and when features are scheduled to start rolling out.

When this will happen:

We will begin rolling out in mid-March and expect to complete by late March.

How this will affect your organization:

With this change we will be updating the labels for timing:

  • Preview will become Preview Available
  • GA will become Rollout Start

Image for reference, final view may be different.

Additionally, the help content and “Sort by General Availability” filter will be updated to align with the new labels. There is no change to the dates, we are simply renaming the fields to make the meaning of the dates clearer.

What you need to do to prepare:

You may consider updating your training and documentation as appropriate.

Be sure to check out our Microsoft service offerings.

Photo Credit: Canva

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