A report saying that Teams would record every meeting automatically caused some concern, but it’s untrue. Instead, ISV solutions are available to allow companies which need to record meetings to create compliance policies to assign to specific users so that their meetings are recorded to meet legal or regulatory requirements. It would be nice to be able to update meeting options so that organizers could opt for automatic recording of certain meetings. Maybe that’s what Microsoft meant when they responded to a User Voice request. No doubt, time will tell.
Without any fanfare, Microsoft released V2.3.1 of the Microsoft Teams PowerShell module on May 10. The new module contains some fixes but little extra functionality. Essentially, this release is all about clearing the decks to prepare for the retirement of Skype for Business Online on July 31, 2021. Those who use the old Skype for Business Online connector need to upgrade their scripts before it stops working on May 15, 2021.
Microsoft Teams Connect now allows external (federated) people to join group chats. Federated participants come from other Microsoft 365 tenants. Previously, federated chats were only supported for 1:1 conversations, but as part of the effort to prepare for the introduction of shared channels (also based on federation), multiple external participants can join a group chat.
Teams meeting organizers can control which participants can bypass the meeting lobby to join automatically, Microsoft has increased the set of available lobby options to handle a range of conditions from all-comers calls to those to discuss sensitive and confidential information. Here’s a quick review of the available options and what each does.
Organizers of Teams meetings can create polls to use during their event. The polls now boast some AI capabilities to help organizers choose the right questions. Organizers can also create and launch polls using the Teams mobile client. This seems to be taking mobility a little further than you might want to use it, but I guess some people run meetings from large iPad devices.
In their FY21 Q3 results, Microsoft announced that Teams now boasts 145 million daily active users. That’s a growth of 30 million over the last six months. Office 365 now has nearly 300 million paid seats. A paid seat is different to an active user, but Microsoft loves to mix up its data so that people believe what Microsoft wants them to think. In any case, the numbers are impressive.
The Teams developers are very proud that the new emoji picker expands the set of available emojis from 85 to over 800. No doubt some will welcome the increase. It will leave others cold as they wonder why Microsoft uses development resources to fill what seems to be an unimportant gap. In any case, the new emoji picker comes to Teams near you sometime soon. Enjoy!
SharePoint site owners can teamify (team-enable) their site, which is nice, Now you can create channel tabs based on site resources during the team enablement process. It’s a nice new feature but you must remember that a new team only has a General channel, so site resources will end up in a place where they might necessarily not end up in the long run.
Teams supports several methods to import email. Outlook for Windows can drag and drop messages into Teams conversations. It’s a quick and easy way to move the focus of a conversation, but there are some downsides to be aware of.
The Teams usage data reported in the Microsoft 365 admin center can now be obfuscated. Teams is the last workload to support this facility. It’s all very well to anonymize, deidentify, or obfuscate user data to protect individual privacy and it’s appropriate to do so in the Microsoft 365 admin center where people with several roles can access the data, but having a single on/off switch for data obfuscation for the Microsoft Graph Reports API is a real pain.
Office 365 administrators can update Azure AD guest accounts with photos. Guests can do the job themselves using three PowerShell commands. Other approaches work too, but this is the easiest and quickest method to do the job, especially if you have guest accounts in multiple tenants.
Organizations can choose to control updates of user photos by policy in their Office 365 tenants or allow users to go ahead and use any image they like. In this article, we explore the value of having a user photo for every Office 365 account (and Teams and Groups too) and the choices organizations must make when they decide whether to control user-driven updates.
Users of the Teams mobile clients can now choose background images for their meetings, including custom backgrounds from their device’s camera roll. The implementation works well as long as the image you want is in your camera roll. Not being able to browse other repositories is a small gripe about a feature that many users will welcome.
Teams meetings include a neat Private Preview feature to allow users to see what their video feed will look like if they enable their camera. All good, except that a strange blog post feels that user privacy might be compromised. In my opinion, that view is a load of rubbish. Private Preview is a very worthwhile feature and a little training can make sure that no one is ever surprised by their video geed appearing unexpectedly in a Teams meeting.
Teams Live Events now support anonymous external presenters, defined as people who don’t have Azure AD or MSA accounts. It’s a useful change because many large public meetings (the natural ground for Live Events) involve external presenters brought in because of their expertise in the meeting topic. The update is rolling out in April 2021.
Teams breakout rooms are a popular method to split meetings into smaller discussion groups. Microsoft has improved how breakout rooms work, notably by adding a countdown timer. The settings for breakout rooms and the assignment of users across rooms now persist across sessions. These small but important improvements reduce the friction of running meetings with breakouts.
Microsoft has refreshed the Send to Teams option in Outlook for Windows, OWA, and Outlook for Mac. You might not notice the change, but it’s a little faster and works better. Software engineering changes like this happen all the time in the cloud to speed up performance and improve reliability. We keep an eye on stuff like this to make sure that we understand what’s happening across Microsoft 365. It’s just what we do…
Microsoft plans to push ads for Teams for personal life into the activity feed of Teams mobile clients used by enterprise accounts. It’s a daft idea. Unsolicited communication is never welcome. This is a bad example of a company abusing its position to advance its own interests without asking whether their paying customers want this kind of communication.
Microsoft 365 organizations which use Teams but don’t have a Teams DLP policy will see a Compliance Center widget recommending the creation of a DLP policy. Sounds good, and the policy covers the most common sensitive data types that people worry about. The downside is that Teams demands Office 365 E5 licenses for DLP policies. You might not know that, but you will if you accept the recommendation.
A new Microsoft 365 admin center feature allows tenants to create an auto-claim policy to assign licenses when users sign into Teams for the first time. It seems like a good idea, but it’s limited by the fact that only Teams supports the auto-claim policy. No scoping exists either, which will disappoint those who like to manage licenses on a granular level. There’s some work to do before these policies will be right for everyone.
A new preview feature allows the resources available to an Azure AD guest account to be reassigned to another email address. It’s a nice feature, but Teams has some problems with it at present. On the upside, everything works great with SharePoint Online and Planner, and we’re sure that Microsoft will fix the problem with Teams soon.
Microsoft has released the public preview of the ability to set the Exchange out of office (OOF) auto-reply from the Teams desktop and browser clients. OOFs set in Teams are synchronized back to Exchange using EWS so that the new auto-reply configuration is picked up by clients like Outlook and OWA. It’s a small but useful update.
OneDrive for Business now stores Teams meeting recordings. You can protect files with sensitivity labels, but does this have any side effects for Teams? As it turns out, it does because the protective wrapper which encrypts the recording breaks the link to Teams. This might not be important if you need to protect a confidential recording and restrict access to a known set of users, but it’s something to consider before applying any labels.
The Teams mobile clients (iOS and Android) benefit from a reduced data usage mode during video calls. The new mode can cut the amount of cellular data consumed significantly. We ran a simple test of a ten-minute meeting involving a shared PowerPoint slideshow and saw data usage reduce by 71%. That’s not a bad outcome!
Microsoft has released V2.0 of the Teams PowerShell module. It brings some welcome improvements, notably the inclusion of all the management cmdlets, but has a downside too. The new cmdlets for managing teams templates are not easy to use and some authentication issues affect the Connect-MicrosoftTeams cmdlet after a change in authentication libraries. Microsoft has some work to do to improve this version of the module.
Microsoft plans to make the Dynamic View feature available for Teams meetings in mid-March. The signs are that the enhanced presentation of meeting content will make attending meetings a tad more engaging. Not much can be done with visual tweaks to rescue boring meetings where presenters drone on about stuff they should cover in a few minutes, but maybe the changes made by Dynamic View will brighten attendee spirits, We can but hope.
Attendees of Teams meetings now have the ability to share their opinion of the proceedings through live reactions, a set of emoticons ranging from thumbs-up to laugh. Reactions appear on attendee cards or float up from the bottom of the screen when material is beiing shared. Tenants can disable reactions uising Teams meeting policies, but meeting organizers can change meeting settings to allow reactions in specific events. Although it seems like a feature that doesn’t add much for a business user, reactions have their place – if used intelligently!
Now deployed to Office 365 tenants, large Teams meetings can support up to 20,000 view-only attendees, if an organization chooses to update its Teams meeting policies. Interestingly, this is a feature which Microsoft originally planned to license under its Teams advanced communication add-on, but the growth of large meetings in organizations might have forced their hand to bring the feature to mainline Teams.
Teams desktop clients are being updated with a new history menu to reveal the last 20 locations visited by a user in their Teams session. It’s a much faster way to get back to something than the older back arrow method. Another example of how Microsoft is refining the Teams client UI to remove little bits of friction and make everything work more smoothly. Or so they say.
Microsoft is changing the way new teams are created in the Teams admin center to make sure that their settings are consistent with teams created in other interfaces. It’s a good idea because it means that all teams are then created equal. Organizations who wish to use different settings can update teams once they’re created using either PowerShell or the Graph API.
Microsoft is giving the Teams desktop and browser clients a makeover with their Fluent design system. If you look closely, you’ll see some changes in app icons, but the other changes are too subtle for many, including me. Up on the upside, while those of us who write about Teams will have to refresh some illustrations, the documentation for the Fluent design system is an interesting read. Well, it is late at night when you’ve nothing better else to do…
There are many examples of PowerShell scripts which create reports about the membership of Microsoft 365 Groups. Most are slow. This version is faster because of its per-user rather than per-group approach to processing. The output is a nice HTML report and two CSV files containing a list of memberships in Microsoft 365 Groups and summary data for each user in the tenant.
Microsoft has announced that recordings of Teams meetings stored in OneDrive for Business will be blocked for download by anyone except the owner. The change will roll out in mid-April and should be complete by mid-June. Microsoft’s post draws attention to the fact that you shouldn’t use channel meetings to discuss confidential topics. It’s all to do with the Microsoft 365 Groups membership model.
Many people want to print off membership details of Microsoft 365 groups, which makes it curious why Microsoft doesn’t support the option in Teams, OWA, or other applications. Fortunately, it is very easy to extract and report membership with PowerShell. Here’s how to generate a HTML report with a CSV file on the side.
The Teams desktop and browser clients are gaining an offline send capability. Messages sent offline are queued locally and go when the network reappears. Connectivity must be resumed within 24 hours. If not, users need to review the messages to make sure that it still makes sense to resend them.
The Microsoft 365 substrate now captures Teams app card data in compliance records to make the data available for eDiscovery, content searches, holds, and retention. The compliance records are stored in user and group mailboxes. Audit records for card interactions are also logged in the Office 365 audit log. Using compliance records means that some app data context is lost, but at least you can find the information.
A change made to the storage location in SharePoint Online for email sent to Teams channels caused problems for people who created Flows based on a known location. Instead of having one big folder for email messages sent to a folder, it seems like Microsoft plans to use a new folder for each month. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it would have been nice if Microsoft warned people using the folder for automated processing that a change was coming. They didn’t.
Microsoft has updated the format of the Teams attendance report to include more data about who attends meetings. The new report is persistent and available after a meeting ends. The new format will no doubt be popular with teachers who need to track who attends their online classes, but it’s likely to be also popular in the enterprise for those who organize meetings with mandatory attendance.
Teams meeting notes are a form of the Teams wiki with much the strengths and weaknesses of the wiki. Good enough for small meetings but limited for larger gatherings when you’ll probably want to capture details using a tool like Word or OneNote.
The inbound webhook connector used by Teams and Microsoft 365 Groups to accept information from external sources is getting a new format. Existing connectors must be updated by April 11, 2021. If not, data will stop flowing into the target channel or group, and that would be a bad thing.