Some Microsoft 365 Features Highlighted at Fall Ignite 2021 You Can Use Now

Discovering Some Nuggets from Microsoft’s Coverage

It’s been a busy week for anyone following the Microsoft 365 ecosystem as Microsoft released a slew of blog posts and announcements to support keynotes and other sessions at the Microsoft Ignite Fall event. You could spend hours reading about new features and functionality and wonder when the code will appear in your Office 365 tenant and if any additional licenses are necessary.

This post captures notes about several features available now that I noticed as I perused Microsoft’s coverage. By themselves, each is not enough to warrant a separate post, but they’re interesting all the same. These changes are examples of the stuff we track to maintain the content of the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. All our chapter authors have been busy this week.

SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business

Sharing links show who you’ve shared a document with. This feature was announced in June but seems to have taken its time to roll out. The idea is simple. When you send a new sharing link, SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business tell you who the document is already shared with (Figure 1), including a thumbnail of each person (if available in Azure AD). You can hover over a thumbnail to see who the person is. The number of active sharing links also appears. It’s a small but useful change.

Information about people a document is already shared with
Figure 1: Information about people a document is already shared with

Easy to overlook, the SharePoint Online admin center now displays connected channel sites when a site used by Teams creates private channels (Figure 2). If you can’t remember which sites have private channel sites, connect to SharePoint Online PowerShell and run:

Get-SPOSite -Limit All -Template TeamChannel#0 | ? {$_.TeamsChannelType -eq "PrivateChannel"}
The SharePoint Online admin center notes the existence of some channel sites
Figure 2: The SharePoint Online admin center notes the existence of some channel sites

If you click the channel sites link, the admin center displays details of those sites. Teams manages the settings for these sites, but it’s nice to be able to have easy access to the information. Shared channels, which are delayed until early 2022, also use channel sites.

OneDrive for Business supports Known Folder Move (KMF) and Files on Demand on MacOS, which is nice if you’ve invested in a brand-new M1-powered Mac.

If your tenant uses sensitivity labels and has SharePoint Syntex, you can apply sensitivity labels to protect the document understanding models. The application of a label in this manner flows through to protect individual documents identified by models. It’s another way of automatically applying labels to sensitive content.

Sensitivity label control over sharing capabilities of SharePoint Online sites is now generally available. In addition, co-authoring and autosave of protected documents is generally available in the Microsoft 365 apps for enterprise (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint). We use protected documents heavily to store chapter files for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook, so this is a welcome advance.

Exchange Online

Microsoft Scheduler can now dynamically adjust the scheduling of recurring meetings. This is message center notification MC295855 (November 2) and it’s a great idea. Static recurring meetings are all too often cancelled or rescheduled because someone is sick or otherwise unavailable. After a recurring meeting finishes, Scheduler looks for the best time slot for the next instance and books that time.

Everyone’s probably familiar with the Exchange Online campaign to remove basic authentication for email connection protocols (that October 2022 date is getting nearer!). PowerShell is on the list of protocols to be blocked for basic authentication, but the Exchange Online management PowerShell module still uses basic authentication to communicate with WinRM on a local workstation. Work is under way to remove the need to use WinRM. Microsoft has released a preview version (2.0.6-3preview) of the module to demonstrate how they will remove the dependency by using a REST API in the background. Exchange Online has many cmdlets, not all of which have been converted to use the new mechanism, but you can test the preview now.

On the downside, Microsoft didn’t say anything at Ignite about the next version of on-premises Exchange. This is strange given the September 2020 announcement said the next version of Exchange Server would be available in the second half of 2021.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft says that Visio web app is rolling out to Microsoft 365 commercial tenants (all tenants with Office 365 enterprise plans). The rollout goes through to the end of January 2022, so keep an eye on the app launcher to see when Visio web app (aka Visio in Microsoft 365) shows up in your tenant.

Microsoft Cloud App Security (MCAS) is now Microsoft Defender for Cloud Apps (surely MDCA?). The app governance add-on is now generally available. It’s a good way to chase down apps registered in Azure AD that are over-permissioned or not being used. If you don’t have MDCA or don’t want to pay for the add-on, use our DIY audit method for Azure AD apps.

Access to the knowledge available in topic cards created by Viva Topics has been restricted to some lesser-used applications up to now. Things will change when topic cards appear in OWA and Teams. Apparently, this will happen soon and should be a game changer for the organizations who have invested in the work needed to harvest organizational knowledge through Viva Topics.


Microsoft prioritized Teams at Ignite as the center of a new way to work (see my article), so there were lots of Teams-related developments discussed, most of which can be left until they appear in a tenant near you. One snippet in a blog post about improving meeting quality is that noise suppression in Teams meetings will be available for iOS soon. Microsoft claims that they saw a “31% decline in comments about background noise distractions” after the launch of noise suppression. This sounds like a good thing, but a single statistic provided without any further context or detail is worthless. We don’t know the sample size, whether the clients were Windows or Mac. What kind of meetings, and what is meant by “comments” (good, bad, or indifferent). Like many Microsoft statistics, there’s plenty of room for fudging an issue.

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.

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