Linking Early Features for Office and Teams
Message Center notification MC264092 (June 23) brings news that Microsoft is connecting the Office Preview and Teams Preview programs (Microsoft 365 roadmap item 81704). Last year, Microsoft revamped the Teams desktop client to allow tenants to control access to preview features, delivering an option to allow users to switch to preview (Figure 1) and a setting in Teams update policies to control its visibility.
At the same time, Teams aligned itself better with the way Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise (the Office desktop apps) deliver functionality in a phased basis through different channels. Building on that, Teams is now creating a link between the Office Current Channel (preview) and Teams Public Preview releases. I assume the idea is that if people already use early releases of Office, they’re probably also happy to use an early release of the Teams desktop client.
Starting in late July, accounts configured to use the Office Current Channel (preview) will automatically pick up Teams Public Preview. The link between Teams and Office is controlled by a new AllowPublicPreview setting in the Teams update management policy assigned to user accounts. The default value for the AllowPublicPreview setting is FollowOfficePreview, meaning that Teams desktop clients used by accounts assigned a policy with the default setting enable the Teams Public Preview features automatically. If you don’t want users to pick up the new default setting when it goes live, make sure to update the policy before July 23.
The last paragraph in MC264092 says “If you already have users who you have allowed to opt-in/opt-out of Public Preview and wish to maintain that setting in its current form, you will need to go to the Teams Admin Center to switch from the new default, “FollowOfficePreview” to “Enabled” (or use PowerShell).”
What this means is that Microsoft is deprecating the AllowPreview setting in the Teams update policy. Instead, the new AllowPublicPreview setting has three values:
- FollowOfficePreview: The new default value creating a link between the Office and Teams previews.
- Enabled: This value allows users to switch into preview mode (like now) but there’s no link between the Office and Teams preview. People can switch to Teams preview mode regardless of which Office channel they use. Users in preview mode (automatic or manual switch) have a P displayed beside their avatar in the Teams client menu bar.
- Disabled: Users cannot switch to preview mode.
Update: According to Microsoft 365 notification MC509574 (January 31, 2023), Microsoft is adding a Forced option to allow administrators to force people to use the preview version of Teams without an opt-in. This update will roll-out in March 2023.
A tenant might have several update policies: one for users who test the latest in both Teams and Office, another to allow people to just test Teams preview features, and a third to prevent access to preview. If you already have a Teams update policy to allow users to use preview mode via the AllowPreview setting, you should update the policy to set AllowPublicPreview to be Enabled or FollowOfficePreview.
You can create and edit the update policies in the Teams admin center or with the Teams PowerShell module. For instance, this command updates the global Teams update policy to disable access to preview mode:
Set-CsTeamsUpdateManagementPolicy -Identity Global -AllowPublicPreview Disabled
No Change for TAP or Targeted Release
If an organization participates in the Teams Technology Adoption Program (TAP), their users won’t be affected by this change because Microsoft uses a different mechanism to control the provisioning of new functionality to TAP customers. In addition, Microsoft says that the new policy setting doesn’t affect how new features arrive in tenants configured for targeted release because, by definition, features must move out of preview to general availability before accounts configured for targeted release can use them.
So much change, all the time. It’s a challenge to stay abreast of all the updates Microsoft makes across Office 365. Subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to receive monthly insights into what’s happening.