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.
|Notification||Original Publication||Feature||Now expected|
|MC215186||4 June 2020||New Information Pane for Teams||End October|
|MC215375||6 June 2020||Removing some messages from General channel||End October|
|MC219651||31 July 2020||Speaker attribute in Live Captions||End September|
|MC219084||7 July 2020||Call merge||Awaiting new date|
|MC220791||21 August 2020||Manage how long guests can access SPO Sites||End November|
|MC219096||22 July 2020||New communications compliance features||End September|
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.
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…