At Ignite 2021 conference this month, Microsoft unveiled new updates and features for the Microsoft 365 Platform tools including Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Stream, Yammer, and more. In this blog, we will highlight the top seven most important updates to the Modern Workplace and how to make the most of them in your organization.
#1 – ContextIQ
The promise of AI has always been about augmenting human capability in ways that feel like magic. That’s becoming reality with ContextIQ. ContextIQ turns insights into action, harnessing the power of Microsoft Graph to glean insights about your work throughout the day, then predicting, seeking, and suggesting information you need right when you need it.
For example, ContextIQ improves Microsoft Editor by helping with things like suggesting a relevant file or document, finding available calendar times with collaborators, suggesting colleagues to tag in emails, or suggesting related Loop components for Microsoft Dynamics 365 Sales opportunity records.
#2 – Microsoft Loop
Microsoft Loop is a new app that combines a powerful and flexible canvas with portable components that move freely and stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps – enabling teams to think, plan, and create together.
Microsoft Loop consists of three core elements: Loop components (previously Fluid components), Loop pages and Loop workspaces. These elements are built on the Fluid Framework open-source platform, providing real-time collaboration at a massive scale. Microsoft Loop components are rolling out in preview across Microsoft 365 apps, such as Microsoft Teams, Outlook, and OneNote in the coming months – with more Microsoft Loop functionality to follow.
- Loop components are atomic units of productivity that allow users to complete work and collaborate in the flow of work – on a Loop page, in a chat, email, document or online meeting. Loop components can be as simple as lists, tables, and notes – or as sophisticated as a customer sales opportunity from Dynamics 365. Because Loop components stay in sync across Microsoft 365 apps, users are always working with the latest information.
- Loop pages are flexible canvases where users can organize their components and pull in helpful elements like links, files, or data in ways that suit their specific project needs. Loop pages can start small and continue to grow to match the size of the ideas.
- Loop workspaces are shared spaces that allow users to see and group everything important to their project. Loop workspaces make it easy for users to catch up on what everyone is working on, react to ideas, and track progress toward shared goals.
#3 – Microsoft Teams Updates Improve Collaboration Across Organizations
Microsoft Teams Connect, coupled with the secure access capabilities of Azure Active Directory, makes cross organizational collaboration easier with two updates: shared channels and Mesh.
Shared Channels are finally here
Shared channels can be shared with individuals and teams across multiple organizations. To enable easy access, shared channels appear within each member’s Teams tenant, alongside other teams and channels.
With shared channels, users don’t have to switch tenants. They can add users to the entire team, and share with people or an entire team, no matter if they are internal or external to the organization. Please note: B2B direct connect will need to be enabled for cross organization chat, calls, meet, and calendar sharing in Teams.
This feature will be available in preview in early 2022.
Q&A in Teams Meetings
Q&A for Teams meetings and Webinars is now available for public preview. By including Q&A in any Teams Meeting or Webinar, event organizers add the ability for attendees to have a focused and structured conversation where they can ask questions and engage in the discussion.
There are two types of Q&A experiences: Unmoderated and Moderated
- Unmoderated Q&A enables all attendee questions to be immediately posted into the Q&A feed for your Meeting or Webinar.
- Moderated Q&A requires questions to be reviewed by the Organizer before being published for attendees to view and comment on.
All attendees – whether they are part of your Microsoft 365 tenant, a federated Microsoft 365 tenant, or a Guest user, get the same user experience in Q&A. They can ask questions, reply to questions, and post reactions from the Desktop and Mobile Teams experience across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android.
Add to OneDrive in Teams
Soon, you’ll be able to add your important shared folders to your OneDrive while collaborating on Teams. To ensure you have a consistent experience while working with files across OneDrive, SharePoint, and Teams, Microsoft will enabling Add to OneDrive in Teams Channel files.
Organize All Your Teams Recordings in One Place
By the end of this year, video recordings will be embedded with transcripts and comments to help you jump to any part of the recorded conversation. Later next year, Microsoft also be introducing a native Table of Contents so you can explore a recording based on any slides presented during a meeting with PowerPoint Live.
#4 – Microsoft Lists
Microsoft Lists is a Microsoft 365 app that helps you track information and organize work. Lists are simple and integrate into your Microsoft environment – keeping information within one tech stack. Now there are new integrations with Microsoft, Office.com, and the Power Platform.
Check the public Microsoft 365 roadmap to track when each new integration will be available.
Create and View Lists From the SharePoint App Bar
Now you’ll be able to view and start creating lists as an action from within the SharePoint app bar. So, no matter where you are in SharePoint, you can jump right into the list viewing or creation process and stay in the flow of work.
#5 – Improvement in macOS
Known Folder Move (KFM) for all macOS users will be available early next year, letting them keep their Desktop, Documents, and Pictures folders protected by syncing them to the cloud with OneDrive. This means that people using OneDrive with macOS Monterey can continue using folders they’re familiar with to do their daily work and be assured that their data is backed up and secure.
KFM will also enable macOS users to access their most important files across different devices and applications because their content is automatically synced to OneDrive with no disruption to productivity.
IT admins can use the KFM reporting to view what errors have occurred, how many people have opted in to protect some or all folders, and how many devices have been updated with the latest OneDrive Sync client.
Files On-Demand for macOS
Microsoft recently revamped the OneDrive sync experience in macOS Monterey and for macOS 12 based on Apple’s new File Provider platform to enhance user experience and familiarity. Now, the OneDrive folder will be visible under Locations in the Finder sidebar, providing easy and quick access to all your OneDrive files.
Microsoft also worked with Apple to refresh the status icons in OneDrive running on macOS:
- Online only files that don’t take up space on your device are represented by a cloud icon.
- When you open an online-only file, it downloads to your device and displays the icon for a locally available file.
- Locally downloaded files that require device space display the always available file icon
Read more about Files On-Demand for macOS here. This updated experience is currently enabled in the Insiders Ring and will be generally available early next year.
#6 – Improved Photo Editing Features on OneDrive
Microsoft will soon release many new built-in photo editing capabilities in OneDrive that will let you crop, adjust, and add filters to your images.
- Crop will help you trim your photos manually or use preset aspect ratios. You can also rotate your photos left and right by 90 degrees or flip an image by 180 degrees for easy viewing.
- With Adjustments you can alter the light and color of your photos by calibrating brightness, exposure, contrast, highlights, shadows, and color saturation.
- Using creative Filters, you can refine the tone of your images or add special effects to transform your photos.
Also, when you make edits to photos on OneDrive, you’ll have the option to save the changes as a new image or overwrite the original image. And if you accidentally overwrite your original, you can use version history to recover it.
#7 – Microsoft Stream Integrates Video Across M365 Apps
Video has become central to productivity in the workplace. It’s being used for virtual events, to explain tools and processes, to capture and store meetings for those who can’t attend, to share knowledge, and to enhance documents, decks, and spreadsheets.
If you go to stream.office.com, you can discover videos from across your organization in a single, comprehensive, and user-friendly experience. The new home for videos is personalized and shows your recommended, shared, and recent videos and meeting recordings—everything that is relevant to your work and interests.
Videos in Microsoft 365 Search
No more database like search for videos. Stream videos are deeply integrated with Microsoft 365 so can search for and find videos in Office, SharePoint, and Microsoft 365 search in Bing. Not only can you search for videos based on title and other metadata, but you can also search based on what was said in the video. Your search term results will appear inside the transcript segment. To search for content in videos, go to Office, enter your term in the search bar, and then select file type “Video” to narrow your results to just videos.
Videos are an excellent medium for knowledge transfer in the hybrid workplace. Instead of writing out a document to convey instructions or processes, you can show how to do it with an explanatory video or a screen recording. Soon you’ll be able to record your screen, record from your webcam, or both at the same time from the Stream start page in office.com. This feature will be available in the coming months.
Video Player Enhancements in Microsoft 365 with @Mentions
Many users have asked Microsoft to provide a better experience on M365 so videos are now faster to start and play with less buffering. Microsoft also added a visual table of contents to videos so you can see the content at-a-glance and jump to relevant sections of a video. Additionally, you can now add modern comments with @mention capabilities to draw someone’s attention to your feedback. These playback enhancements give you more control and help save you time as you interact with videos across Microsoft 365.
Mobile Video Experiences
As promised, Microsoft is beginning to deliver improved video experiences on mobile across Microsoft 365. On the Office mobile app for Android, you’ll now see Stream videos appear in your recent and recommended files, as well as in the media tab. When recording videos on the mobile app, you can now use effects such as overlays, text, and inking.
These are but a handful of many exciting announcements Microsoft shared at Ignite 2021. For more information about new and upcoming releases, make sure to check out Microsoft’s Book of News. And be sure to follow Core BTS on LinkedIn and Twitter for regular news, events, and thought leadership you can apply to your organization.