Creating Custom Images for Channel Announcement Posts in the New Teams

Artificial Intelligence with Designer Used to Create Custom Announcement Images

When Microsoft announced the general availability for the new Teams client, they mentioned that the new client is the “foundation for next-generation AI experiences.” The following text covered how Teams will function with Microsoft 365 Copilot when Copilot is available (from November 1, 2023).

However, Copilot isn’t the only way that the new Teams client uses artificial intelligence services. As we discuss here, Teams uses Microsoft Designer to generate custom announcement images for channel announcement posts. Microsoft originally published details of the feature in Microsoft 365 roadmap item 123501 and message center notification MC680348 (10 October). They then followed up with MC687791 (6 November 2023), which contained a significant detail in that a Teams Premium license is needed to use Microsoft Designer to generate custom images.

MC687791 says that deployment to targeted release tenants will commence in early November 2023, standard release and GCC tenants will see the software in late November, and GCC High/DoD in mid-January 2024. The feature is currently disabled in EDU tenants until Microsoft delivers a policy setting to allow administrators to control its use. The initial release is for English (U.S.) only.

The Return of Custom Announcement Images

Teams classic clients (browser and desktop) supported the addition of custom images for channel announcement posts for several years. Earlier in 2023, support for custom images disappeared without warning and users were limited to choosing a color to highlight announcements.

With the new Teams client, announcement posts support custom images again, but the implementation is very different. Instead of simply selecting an image and trimming it to fit, Teams uses Microsoft Designer to customize an image you provide or generate a completely new image based on your input. Here’s what happens.

Creating a Custom Announcement Image

To begin, create a new post and choose announcement as the post type. When Teams displays the post creation screen, click the customized background option in the post header. Teams passes control to Microsoft Designer. You can now input some text about the post topic. Designer uses the DALL-E text to image generator to create the image. You can also choose to add an image or generate a custom image.

Figure 1 shows what happened when I uploaded the cover image for the Office 365 for IT Pros (2024 edition) eBook and input some text for Designer to work with. You can see that Designer generates some initial ideas based on the uploaded image. Sometimes the results are exactly what you want, but mostly you should be prepared to do some work to modify what Designer suggests.

Creating a custom image for an announcement post
Figure 1: Creating a custom image for an announcement post

If you’re happy with an image generated at this point, select it and click Done. Otherwise, click the submit button (blue arrow) to send the topic text (and image) to Designer.

To start, Designer generates some ideas based on what you submit. If you’re happy with one of the images, choose Done. Otherwise choose Customize to open Designer.

Working inside Designer, you can change the text that appears in the image, change the colors and typefaces, and make many other alterations to generate exactly the kind of image you want to use. As you make changes, Designer generates more options to choose from (Figure 2).

Using Microsoft Designer to tweak a custom announcement image
Figure 2: Using Microsoft Designer to tweak a custom announcement image

When you’re made all the changes you want for the image, click Done and Designer inserts the image into the announcement header and returns control to Teams (Figure 3). You can now input the announcement text and post the message when ready.

The custom image in an announcement post
Figure 3: The custom image in an announcement post

More Complex But Better Images

Using Designer to create custom announcement images results in much nicer images. However, some people will find the process more complex and too much trouble to bother with. It’s certainly more complicated and takes longer than the previous method of uploading an image, choosing which portion of the image to use in the announcement header, and typing in some text to overlay on the image.

Those who want to use beautiful images for their announcement posts will enjoy the new functionality, especially when they don’t have a suitable image available. Designer is happy to generate ideas over and over again. Whether people have the patience to go through the process remains to be seen, but if you want to explore your artistic side, announcements posted with the new Teams client certainly have the opportunity to include very different custom announcement images.

Learn how to exploit the features available in Microsoft 365 through the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook. We love figuring out how things work.

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