Why Microsoft Extends Office 365 Notification Dates For New Functionality

Office 365 Notifications
Office 365 Notifications

Microsoft publishes notifications to the Office 365 message center to inform administrators of upcoming changes that affect their tenant. The idea is that you should get a period of between two to six weeks before new software appears to prepare by taking actions such as informing users about new functionality.

Most of the time the software described in notifications arrives on time, but recently Microsoft has had to publish updates for an increasing number of notifications to inform tenants that new features are delayed. Table 1 details some examples of notifications that have recently been updated. As an application that is delivering many new features to meet customer demand, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Teams notifications are the most likely to be delayed.

NotificationOriginal PublicationFeatureNow expected
MC2151864 June 2020New Information Pane for TeamsEnd October
MC2153756 June 2020Removing some messages from General channelEnd October
MC21965131 July 2020Speaker attribute in Live CaptionsEnd September
MC2190847 July 2020Call mergeAwaiting new date
MC22079121 August 2020Manage how long guests can access SPO SitesEnd November
MC21909622 July 2020New communications compliance featuresEnd September
Table 1: Recent Changes in Office 365 Notifications

Sometimes Software Needs More Tweaking

You might wonder why Microsoft announces that a new feature is coming and is then forced to adjust dates, sometimes several times. The answer is that this is the nature of software. If an update isn’t ready, it won’t be released to general availability. Tenants don’t want low-quality software and Microsoft doesn’t want the support load generated when users run into problems with new features. For this reason, previews which are scheduled to last a few weeks might extend much longer if the customers participating in the preview uncover problems.

The point is that a notification is only a signal that something new is coming. It’s not a definite commitment that the change will happen on the predicted date. It might, and that’s good, but it might not, and tenant administrators should be prepared to track updates to Office 365 notifications and adjust their plans as necessary. This can be disruptive, especially when a feature slips several times or if some users are waiting for specific functionality.

Tracking Tasks

Speaking of plans, linking Planner to the Office 365 message center is an excellent way of tracking the notifications to make sure that surprises don’t happen. Planner has a reasonable mobile app that allows people to track updates to their assigned tasks, and the same tasks can also be managed through the Tasks app in Teams.

Tracking change inside Office 365 is something that the writers of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook are pretty good at. Well, we think we are…

2 Replies to “Why Microsoft Extends Office 365 Notification Dates For New Functionality”

  1. Yes, but that leaves administrators with the only option to sending out communication/documentation only when new feature is already released. and even then it might reach some porting of users and not the other. Just read the comments on official blog posts for new Meeting Experience and Tasks integration. This is a huge mess which is dragging for months or even year. They should just stop working on so many features and deliver a few at a time.

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