How to Monitor New Members Added to Teams

I was asked how easy it would be to write a PowerShell script to monitor new teams members and reject any additions that met specific criteria. Easy, we said, so we set to creating a script to interrogate the unified audit log to find new member events. Once that was done, it’s a matter of analyzing the events to find if we should reject the addition of any of the added members.

Chasing Performance When Reporting Teams SharePoint Site URLs

It’s possible to use PowerShell to create a report detailing the SharePoint Online site URLs used with Teams. My first attempt used the Exchange Online module, but is the Graph any faster? As it turns out, not really. At least, not for interactive sessions using the Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK (things are different when running SDK code using a registered app). I tried several approaches, but Graph permissions got in the way every time.

Microsoft Launches Unified Picker for Teams Fun Graphics

A Teams unified picker for fun content is now available in the Teams 2.1 client. The new picker replaces the existing options to add GIFs and stickers. I’m sure this update will be important to some people, but I’m more impressed by the change to improve the performance and reliability of synchronizing calendar updates between Outlook (Exchange Online) and Teams. All available soon.

Controlling Who Receives Invitations to Teams Channel Meetings

Teams channel meetings belong to a channel, but who receives the invitations for these meetings? The answer is “it depends” – on group settings and options. The underlying Microsoft 365 group might have a subscriber list of users who want to receive email for new events like meetings or the user might choose to send invitations to everyone. We discuss the mechanics and explore a way to schedule meetings in shared and private channels too.

Teams Meet App to Manage Meetings

Delayed until October 2023, the Teams Meet app will appear in the Teams 2.1 client to help users manage meetings more effectively. At least, that’s the plan. The app works well for internal meetings but its review capabilities are limited when you attend meetings hosted in another tenant. The Meet app will be beneficial in large organizations where people attend lots of meetings, but will might be less effective in smaller organizations. It’s worth looking at to decide if the Teams Meet app works for you.

Microsoft to Offer Teams Premium for Self-Service Purchase

Teams Premium Trial licenses are to be offered to end users in commercial tenants worldwide for self-service purchases from September 2023. I quite like some of the functionality available in Teams Premium, but I think organizations are better off using the “regular” Teams Premium trial licenses to run a test involving up to 25 users for 30 days. The results are probably going to be more indicative of the worth of Teams Premium than any individual test can be.

Teams Admin Center Withdraws Dark Mode Support

Microsoft announced on August 17 that they are not proceeding with the implementation of dark mode support in the Teams Admin center. The news came as a surprise, but it’s an indication of the lack of user interface consistency across the different Microsoft 365 administrative consoles. Token handling is another example. I can live without dark mode, but being forced to sign out by the Teams admin center is a pain.

Monitor and Report Additions to Teams Membership

A question about how to report specific changes to Teams memberships gave another excuse to use PowerShell with the unified audit log to deliver a solution. The idea is that you can check audit log entries to see when specific user accounts join the membership of Teams. Once you’ve found that data, it’s a simple matter of creating email to share the results. All done with a few lines of PowerShell…

Teams Gets Inline Playback for Stream Videos

Stream video playback in Teams chats and channels is now inline, meaning that the video plays direct without any need to call the Stream browser client. It’s a good update that makes watching Stream videos a very seamless experience. It would be nice if Microsoft can improve some other integration points where Stream and Teams touch because some of the other integration features don’t work so well. In other news, SharePoint Online is rationalizing how it stores user photos.

Teams Supports 1,000 Channels

An update coming soon increases the channel limit for regular and shared channels to 1,000. That should be enough Teams channels for anyone. Then again, a case can be argued that 25 channels should be enough to organize discussions for any team. In any case, you’re going to have the opportunity soon to create channels to your heart’s content. That is, until you reach the 1000-channel; limit.

Teams Makes Meeting Participants Prettier with Maybelline App

A new Maybelline video filters app allows Teams meeting participants to enhance their appearance during or before a meeting. 12 filters are available to apply AI-powered enhancements based on a 70-point map generated from a user’s face. It’s good if a filter helps you feel better about yourself when you join a call, but I can’t help thinking that maybe Microsoft could work on more important functionality?

Teams Gives Shared Channel Owners New Method to Request Cross-Tenant Trusts

Microsoft is making it easier for owners of Teams shared channels to request help if they run into a trust problem when adding a member from another domain. If Teams detects a problem with a missing trust, it flags the error to the channel owner and offers a link to a web page to seek additional support. Of course, the tenant might decline to trust the domain the channel owner wants to use, but that’s a different story.

Teams Admin Center Refreshes Search Facility

Microsoft announced that they are rolling out a refresh for the Teams Admin Center search feature. Useful as it can be, TAC search can output odd results. That’s a pity because the TAC search feature would be a whole lot better if its results were less profuse and more reliable.

Microsoft Cranks Up Deployment Schedule for Teams 2.1

Microsoft released details about the deployment schedule for the new Teams client (2.1) on June 30, 2023. It looks like a lot of work to roll out the new Teams client will happen over the remainder of 2023. It seems like tenants can use the classic Teams client for at least until mid-2024, but soon there’ll only be one Teams client in use, and that’ll be Teams 2.1.

Security Researchers Demonstrate Exploit Against Teams External Access

Security Researchers JumpSec demonstrated a weakness in Teams External Access by showing how to send malware to users via a federated chat. The exploit depends on another weakness in that attackers can interfere with the set of policy controls transmitted by the Teams server to clients. It’s yet another reason why Microsoft 365 tenants should restrict external access to the set of domains they really want to chat with.

Using Collaborative Notes in Teams Meetings

Collaborative meeting notes are a preview feature available for Teams meetings which uses a Loop component composed of three other components to capture the agenda, notes, and task list for meetings. Because the feature is based on Loop. it inherits the goodness and problems of the technology (like no guest access). But overall, this is a nice solution that will go down well in large organizations that run many internal meetings.

Teams to Support Targeted Release for Commercial Tenants

Microsoft has announced that Teams now supports the Microsoft 365 targeted release mechanism, meaning that new Teams features should appear more consistently. The Teams preview program continues, but targeted release takes precedence. In other news, the Teams chat client in Windows 11 is being replaced by the Teams Free client. This probably won’t make much different, but it’s good to know.

Teams Introduces Animated Backgrounds for Meetings

Teams animated backgrounds add something to meetings. According to Microsoft, it’s “a dynamic animation for a more immersive virtual environment.” Based on the limited set of background animated released by Microsoft (which currently can’t be augmented by custom backgrounds), the effect might not be quite what you expect. In any case, animated backgrounds will please some and disappoint others, which is what happens in a very large service spanning over 300 million active users.

Teams Expands Coverage for Group Policy Assignment

Microsoft 365 tenants using Teams group policy assignments to assign policies to user accounts now have a much larger range of policies to choose from, even if assignments can only be made through PowerShell for the moment. In other news, the Teams admin center now has support for dark mode, which is fine if you don’t customize the theme of a Microsoft 365 tenant.

OWA and Teams Share User Work Locations

Work locations are a new concept that OWA and Teams share in an attempt to make it easier for people to schedule meetings with knowledge of where participants are working from. It’s a nice idea but the implementation is sadly flawed because of a lack of flexibility in defining or customizing locations. Let’s hope Microsoft improves the feature in future.

Scheduling Appointments in the Teams Calendar

Nearly seven years into the product’s existence, Teams offline meetings can now be scheduled through the Teams calendar, but only for Teams private meetings. Making it possible to set aside time for private commitments and in-person meetings is sensible and a good change. The only mystery is why it took so long to happen.

Teams Gets New Channels UI

Microsoft plans to roll out the new Teams channels experience to commercial and GCC tenants in mid-June 2023 with GCC-High and DoD tenants getting the software in July. The new UI gives Teams channel conversations a visual makeover and adds some useful features like being able to pop out conversations and using Viva Topics in messages, Moving the compose box to the top of the screen takes a bit of getting used to, as does the way that Teams creates a focus on reading a conversation. Overall, the new UI is an incremental rather than a radical improvement, which is probably what people want.

Microsoft Adds Payments App to Teams

Microsoft has announced the preview of the Teams payment app. The app can handle payments through Teams chats and meetings in the United States and Canada using services like Stripe, PayPal, and GoDaddy. We’ve got a Stripe account to handle payments for the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook, so we took the new app for a test run and it proved very easy to set up and use. The payments app should be very popular with small businesses.

Teams Admin Center Gains Better Visibility for Expiring and Deleted Teams

New options to handle teams expiration and restoration are available in the Teams admin center. Having the options in the TAC is useful even if there’s no new magic involved because it’s possible to perform these operations using other Microsoft 365 consoles or programmatically with PowerShell or Graph API requests. Even so, because some teams administrators only ever use the Teams admin center, it’s good to have these options available there.

Teams Adds Captions to Chat Video Messages

Microsoft introduced video messages in Teams chat in November 2022. Now they’ve added auto-generated captions and transcripts for the one-minute long clips. This allows people to read the content of video messages without having their audio on, which could be handy in noisy places. Despite the availability of the transcript, the compliance issues we pointed to last November still exist. That’s regrettable.

Teams Adds Snapchat Lenses to Video Effects for Meetings

Teams meeting participants can now choose from 24 Snapchat Lenses as effects to apply to their video feed. It’s unclear how advantageous these lenses are to the efficient running of Teams meetings, but beauty is very much in the eye of the individual meeting participant. Some will find the Snapchat Lenses create a compelling effect. Others will be less positive. But across the 280 million monthly active Teams users, there’s bound to be some who absolutely love these effects.

Teams Introduces a Profanity Filter for Meetings

A Teams profanity filter is available to detect offensive and profane words used in Teams meetings and captured in live captions. The effectiveness of the filter and its ability to mask bad words depends on many factors, including microphone quality. I can see the Teams profanity filter being popular in education settings, but maybe less so in the more red-blooded corporate world. It’s a personal choice!

New Teams 2.1 Client Arrives in Preview

Microsoft has made a preview version of the new Teams client available to commercial tenants worldwide. The preview runs only on Windows and isn’t yet available in browser sessions. Some functionality is missing because it’s incomplete but the new client is faster and snappier than the classic Teams client. To use the preview, you’ll need to enable the new client through a Teams update policy.

Teams Files App Gets an Overhaul

Microsoft has overhauled the Teams Files App as part of its work to refresh the Teams client UI. We’re still waiting to know about the new channels experience which is supposed to appear at around the same time. This work will refresh and enhance the Teams V1 client while also appearing in the Teams V2.1 client that’s expected to be available in preview soon.

Teams Meetings Gains Green Screen Effect

The Teams green screen effect allows people to select a uniform backdrop to apply effects upon using fewer system resources and achieving a cleaner output. Not everyone has a suitable backdrop, so I used the wall behind my desk to see what the Teams green screen effect could do with it. And although some imperfections resulted from the lack of uniformity for the wall, you can still see how this will be a useful feature. That is, if you use a proper backdrop!

Teams Enhances Audio For Meetings

Microsoft continues to improve the sound quality available in Teams meetings with support for spatial audio and ultrasound howling detection (feedback echo). Spatial audio depends on the right equipment and aims to help you know who’s speaking in a meeting. Howling detection means that Teams detects when multiple people in a physical room join a meeting and suppresses audio to avoid a feedback loop.

Teams Adds Explicit Consent for Recorded Meetings

A new setting in the Teams meeting policy allows Microsoft 365 tenants to dictate that meetings organized by some or all users must gain explicit consent from users before they can be recorded. The new control is intended to help address privacy concerns that some users might have. This article describes how to apply the policy setting and its impact on meeting participants.

Teams Admin Center Options for Bulk Policy Assignments

Teams bulk policy assignment options include two features in the Teams admin center, batch jobs, Azure Automation and plain-old PowerShell. In this article, we examine the options in the Teams Admin Center to revert policy assignments back to the global (default) policy and a way to perform Teams bulk policy assignments for selected accounts. And we mention the other methods that exist which don’t involve the Teams admin center.

Microsoft 365 Profile Card Gains Support for Pronouns

Microsoft 365 pronouns for display in apps like Teams and OWA can now be enabled on a tenant-wide basis. Displaying pronouns is a topic that can cause strong feelings for some, so organizations should take their time and plan an implementation before rushing to deployment.

Preparing for the Teams 2.1 Client to Arrive

Microsoft is dropping lots of hints to the press about the imminent arrival of the new Teams client (V2.1), due to arrive in public preview in late March 2023. According to reports, the new Teams client will deliver better performance while using 50% less memory and making fewer demands for CPU. It all sounds great. With the new client coming into sight, it’s time to prepare Teams update policies to make sure that the right users get the new software at the right time.

Microsoft Releases Version 5 of the Microsoft Teams PowerShell Module

Version 5.0 of the Microsoft Teams PowerShell module contains a major overhaul for the Get-CsOnlineUser cmdlet, which receives better filtering capabilities. The overhaul is part of Microsoft’s ongoing efforts to modernize and enhance the cmdlets inherited from the Skype for Business Online connector. Although there’s still work to do to fix some glitches, the update is welcome.

Change to Microsoft Teams Free Version Means Downgraded Functionality

On April 12, 2023, Microsoft will retire the original version of Teams free introduced in 2018. If you want to stay using a free version, Microsoft has Teams for Home. However, the functionality isn’t the same and there’s no migration tools available to move from one platform to the other. In this kind of situation, it might just be time to bite the bullet and pay for Teams.

Teams and Mesh Avatars

Mesh avatars are a new visual way for people to participate in Teams meetings. A mesh avatar is a 3D representation of a person used instead of a video image. Some will consider the notion of using an avatar in a meeting abhorrent, but it’s really not that bad and can be very useful at times. Using avatars is an intensely personal decision. For some, it might be their first step into the metaverse. For others, it could be their last (until something better comes along)…