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What’s New in Microsoft 365 (December 2020)

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As of yesterday, IE 11 is no longer supported for using Microsoft Teams on the web. Please remember this is just the beginning of the IE 11 deprecation cycle within Microsoft 365’s products and on August 17th, 2021 Microsoft 365 apps will not support IE 11 in any way.  Now that we have your attention, we will be delving into an unwelcome feature delay in Teams, a couple interesting SharePoint related updates, giving Planner so much deserved love as well as a much requested “comeback” feature in Teams regarding meeting experiences.

New File Sharing Experience in Teams Delayed

We’ve been waiting on the file sharing experience in Teams to be the same as in SharePoint for quite some time. Apparently, we are going to be waiting a while longer.  On November 27th we got the update that this is being delayed due to early ring learnings aka we found some bugs that we need to work out, hold tight.  This in of itself is a good thing, however, in the “timing key point” we got some bold text indicating “We will provide an update when we are ready to proceed”.  

Unfortunately, it seems like we are now left with an undefined rollout timeline for this feature. Also, I may have just missed the wording in the initial announcement, but I did note that this one indicated a Teams file sharing and access control experience “similar to” other Microsoft 365 apps.  I was really hoping to see this rolled out last month as well as getting access to the SharePoint Library Views in Teams but c’est le vie.

List Rules in SharePoint

A couple years ago we started letting our customers know that they would be using Teams as Microsoft made it abundantly clear that is where things were heading.  Consider this your notice that you will use Power Automate, if you’ve delayed it due to governance/compliance concerns now is the time to get your ducks in a row.  We haven’t been able to verify this in our target release tenant just yet but this sounds a lot like another instance of Power Automate being used but obfuscated from the user. Although this is specific to SharePoint if you haven’t seen the Approvals in Teams features yet I recommend checking out the “What is Approvals” training on Teams Support.

Don’t get us wrong on this…it’s a good thing to enable/empower your business users.  Just make sure your organization is ready because it is going to be pushed on you whether you want it or not😉. Details from the message center post on this one below:

With this update, SharePoint users with edit permissions on a list can create simple if/then rules, based on changes to list information, to set reminders and send notifications.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 64163.

When this will happen

  • Targeted release (organization): gradual roll out in late November; expect to be complete in mid-December 2020.
  • Standard release: gradual roll out mid-January; expect to be complete by the end of January 2021

How this will affect your organization

Users with edit permissions on the list can create and manage rules. Users with read-only permissions can’t create or manage rules.

Once the feature is available to your users, they’ll be able to create a rule by selecting Automate and then Create a rule in the list command bar near the top of the page.

These notifications emails will be sent from Microsoft 365 to one or more users in your organization, as shown below for reference:

Once rolled out, the feature will be available to all list users in Microsoft Lists and SharePoint. Users will be able to create a maximum of 15 rules per list.

What you need to do to prepare

You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.

Learn more:

SharePoint Site Header Updates

We are getting a couple more options regarding the layouts of our Modern SharePoint site headers for the new year.  One of the biggest complaints we get from customers is the inability to easily customize the layouts of modern SharePoint headers and footer so any updates here are welcome.   

One important note on this announcement is that any site created after this feature is rolled out will be set to utilize the “compact header” instead of the “standard header”.  If your organization is using automation to create your Modern SharePoint sites and are not currently setting the header types now is a really good time to update your PowerShell and/or Site Scripts to do so.  Details from the message center announcement below:   

We are expanding the SharePoint branding options that make it easier to customize your site, including new header configurations for modern sites.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 63776.

When this will happen

  • Targeted release (organization): rollout begins early December and is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
  • Standard release: rollout begins early January and is expected to be complete by the end of January 2021.

How this will affect your organization

For all sites created after the updates, the default site header for new SharePoint sites will be the compact header instead of the standard header.

Modern SharePoint site owners will see updated options in the Change the Look panel for Headers (image below).

  • A minimal header uses a reduced height to provide quick visual access to content
  • An extended header layout includes an optional background image, expanded site logo widths, and options on site logo alignment
  • Control all aspects of how your site logo appears across SharePoint with a site logo thumbnail and a site logo
  • Easy to toggle site title label visibility on or off

What you need to do to prepare

These updates will not impact existing sites and or any current site customizations.

You might want to notify your SharePoint site owners about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.

The new Change the Look panel

Intelligent File Recommendations for Planner

We don’t really give Planner much love in our updates but as we do utilize it internally and this feature takes advantage of some of the AI/ML available in Microsoft 365 now is the time😉.  To be clear, this isn’t Clippy and should provide some value-add, especially if you’re actively utilizing the other Microsoft 365 apps with file storage capabilities (Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive and Outlook). Ultimately, I tend to prefer the “wait and see” approach before getting too excited about this type of feature however I think this one will save me and my team some time.  Details below:   

This new Planner feature allows users to quickly add attachments to their tasks from an intelligently curated list of relevant files. The recommendations are based on the task and the user.

This message is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 66364.

When this will happen

We will begin the roll out in early January and expect to be complete by the end of January 2021.

How this will affect your organization

Users will be able to choose recommended files to add as attachments to their tasks in Planner.

What you need to do to prepare

You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.

Full Screen Support in New Teams Meetings Experience

File this under the category of “we took it away, then gave it back” from a feature standpoint.  As a person that has numerous monitors available, I did use this feature prior to the new meeting experience for Teams being rolled out. I have a TV as a monitor directly above my laptop that was perfect for going “full screen” on Teams meetings but after not having the capability for around half a year I’m not sure how often I’ll end up using it as I didn’t seem to miss it too much.  Obviously, some folks did miss it as it’s back and the details are below:

As promised in July, we are bringing Full screen support back in the new meeting experience for Teams desktop applications.

This feature is associated with Microsoft 365 Roadmap ID 67171

When this will happen

We rolled this out in late October.

How this affects your organization

The feature is accessible via meeting controls under More options (…) > Full screen. On Mac OS, you can also access it by using the native “Full screen” control on the top left corner of the meeting window.

  • On Mac OS, the meeting window fills up the whole screen in Full screen mode. The title bar on the top and task bar on the bottom of the window are hidden.
  • On Windows OS, only the taskbar is hidden in Full screen mode.

To focus attention on content that is shared during a meeting, use Focus mode, accessible via More options (…) > Focus mode. In Focus mode, content uses the entire meeting window. By removing other Teams elements from the window, this mode makes it easier to focus on content.

What you need to do to prepare

You might want to notify your users about this new capability and update your training and documentation as appropriate.

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.