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Teams Webinars Gets a Makeover
Roughly 18 months ago, I wrote about the original implementation of Teams webinars. Now Microsoft is refreshing Teams webinars with a new experience based on customer feedback. According to Microsoft 365 message center notification MC454809 (1 November), the new UI should show up in tenants in late November with global deployment complete in early December. Microsoft 365 roadmap item 86826 concurs that general availability happens in November, and doesn’t give too much away in its description, which reports the feature to be “Updated webinar template with a new layout and expanded options to customize registration details and settings specific to the event.” Whatever that means.
What to Expect from Teams Webinars 2.0
Teams Webinars isn’t available yet, so treat this discussion as informed speculation based on the words in the message center post and roadmap item. Here’s what I think we’ll see:
A revamped user interface to create and manage webinars. The original implementation was just that – an original. Microsoft says that they’ll deliver an updated webinar template (layout of various options associated with organization of webinar events).
Customizable capabilities. Organizations that run webinars probably want some corporate branding. You don’t want your webinar to look like every other Teams webinar, so you can expect that the new interface will accommodate some layout elements. Microsoft specifically mentions registration details and event settings. These are the public-facing elements and it’s logical that they are the areas that you’ll be able to customize.
Better control over registration. Microsoft says that they want to deliver an end-to-end webinar solution. Registration is a big part of webinars. Organizers want to know who’s signed up, who attends, and how long they participated for. Registration was basic in V1.0. I expect a lot of change in this area.
Scalability: Microsoft says that Teams Webinars 2.0 is “built to scale.” After Teams Webinars appeared, there was a bunch of speculation whether Webinars would take over from Teams Live Events. For that to happen, webinars need to support thousands of attendees. It will be interesting to see just how high webinars extend to when 2.0 becomes available.
New Events Policy to Control Teams Webinars 2.0
The original webinars implementation built off regular Teams meetings. It seems like 2.0 will be treated as distinct events. Microsoft says that they’re introducing a new Teams events policy to govern webinars (and potentially future types of events) instead of the current controls in the Teams meeting policy.
The cmdlets to control Teams Events policies are in the latest version of the Teams PowerShell module. Running Get-CsTeamsEventsPolicy reveals:
Get-CsTeamsEventsPolicy AllowWebinars : Enabled EventAccessType : Everyone Description : Default policy DataSource : Key : ScopeClass=Global;SchemaId=;AuthorityId=;DefaultXml=;XmlRoot= Identity : Global
The AllowWebinars and EventAccessType controls in the Teams events policy replace the current AllowMeetingRegistration and WhoCanRegister controls in the Teams meeting policy. MC454809 says that the value of AllowWebinars is set to ON. This is incorrect. The parameter is either Enabled or Disabled. The EventAccessType parameter controls who can attend webinars. A value of Everyone means both public and private participants while EveryoneInCompanyExcludingGuests means only internal (private) participants can attend.
The default policy distributed to tenants has AllowWebinars set to Enabled, meaning that tenants will automatically switch to Teams Webinars 2.0 unless the organization disabled the original webinars implementation by setting AllowMeetingRegistration to False.
To turn off Teams Webinars 2.0, run the Set-CsTeamsEventsPolicy cmdlet to disable the control in the default policy:
Set-CsTeamsEventsPolicy -AllowWebinars Disabled
If AllowMeetingRegistration is True in a meeting policy, users assigned that policy will be able to continue using the original webinars implementation. Microsoft says that after a period of transition, everyone will move to Teams Webinars 2.0.
Of course, organizations often have several meeting policies to cater for different sets of users. In this scenario, anyone whose meeting policy allowed webinars in the past will get the new experience. Alternatively, you could create a new Teams Events policy to assign to those who organize webinars. Here’s how to create a new policy with New-CsTeamsEventsPolicy:
New-CsTeamsEventsPolicy -Identity WebinarOrganizers -AllowWebinars Enabled -Description "This events policy should be assigned to people who organize webinars" -EventAccessType Everyone AllowWebinars : Enabled EventAccessType : Everyone Description : This events policy should be assigned to people who organize webinars DataSource : Memory Key : ScopeClass=Tag;SchemaId=;AuthorityId=;DefaultXml=;XmlRoot= Identity : Tag:WebinarOrganizers
To assign the policy, use the Grant-CsTeamsEventsPolicy cmdlet:
Grant-CsTeamsEventsPolicy -Identity Peter.Hedges@office365itpros.com -PolicyName WebinarOrganizers
To ensure that the right people have a policy that allows them to run webinars, consider using an Azure Automation scheduled job to assign the appropriate Teams events policy to their accounts.
Unfortunately, the Get-CsOnlineUser cmdlet doesn’t currently tell you what events policy is assigned to a user.
Classic Microsoft Tactics
Revamping features soon after releasing a version 1 is classic Microsoft software development. The Teams development group delivered Teams Webinars 1.0 in 2021 (perhaps under pressure from the pandemic situation) and now they’re coming back to complete the job with new UX, better scalability, and additional options to manage registrations. All of which should be very welcome.
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 happens, why it happens, and what new features and capabilities mean for your tenant.