Some of these features are available today but others are due to roll out soon, so they might not be immediately available in your own Office 365 environment.
Office 2013 Client Connectivity to Office 365 Services
From the 13th October 2020, Microsoft have warned that users accessing Office 365 services with older versions of Office products (e.g. Office 2013 or Office 2010) may suffer performance, instability or security issues. It is therefore critical that users of Office 365 ensure they are using the latest Office Products.
This could impact clients with an Office 365 Business Essentials plan, who are using their own legacy office products or clients that are not upgrading to Windows 10. The other main Office 365 commercial products include the right to download and use the latest versions of Office so they should not be impacted.
Use Tags in Microsoft Teams to organise and control large groups of users
Rolling out in Q1 2020 is the ability to tag users in a Microsoft Team – this is really applicable to Teams that have large memberships and you want to categorise or group individuals in the team so that you can target messages and conversations at them.
Using tags, team owners can organise users based on a common attribute, such as role, project, skill, training, or location. After team members have tags, the team owner or a tagged team member can create a channel post, @tagName, that notifies only the users who have that tag (in this case @tagName).
Tags are team-based; you have to a be a member of a team in order to use an associated tag. For example, you could send a message to all cashiers in a store or all developers in a software specific release stream. To manage tags, click on the Team name (not the general channel) and then select Settings. Tags should appear at the bottom of the list of settings once it has been enabled by Microsoft New Team Tag Settings
Subscribe individuals in your company to be notified about Office 365 incidents
Microsoft is now rolling out the ability to subscribe up to 2 individuals to receive notifications of new incidents affecting you Office 365 service. Previously, only your admins could view incidents by signing into the Office 365 Health dashboard – often this would only occur after users started complaining that something was not working.
To subscribe to the new service, you will need to sign into the Office 365 Admin service and then navigate to the Service Health Dashboard, then:
Add totals to your modern SharePoint views
Finally, a long-lost favourite has returned, column totals on modern SharePoint views. This allows you to specify different types of totals and calculations depending on the type of column you apply it to. For instance, you could sum the values in a number column or just count the number of rows in a view. A very simple feature that can add so much value to you SharePoint deployment.
To add totals, simply edit or create a view and scroll down to the Totals section on the left.
New OneDrive "Request Files" feature provides a secure area for external parties to submit documents
This feature allows you to ask another user to place files into a specific folder that you own. The folder must be in your own OneDrive for Business. To request files:
After the recipient clicks on the invitation link, she selects her files to upload. You will be able to see all the collected files, but recipients will only be able to upload files. They won’t be able to access any contents within the selected folder and won’t be able to modify their own uploads once the upload is submitted.
This is different to just sharing a folder in your OneDrive where the recipient can see and edit all documents in that folder. This could be useful if you are requesting suppliers to upload a tender proposal and you would not want suppliers seeing other supplier proposals or be able to modify their proposal once uploaded.
More from Microsoft on creating a OneDrive file request
Greater control over presenter and attendee roles in Microsoft Teams meetings
Meeting organisers will now have an option to define presenter and attendee roles for meeting participants. Presenters will have full permissions in the meeting, whereas attendees cannot share content, take control, mute or remove other participants, admit people waiting in the lobby, or start/stop recording.
Before or during the meeting, organisers can specify who is an attendee or a presenter through the meeting options panel. The available choices are as follows:
To access the Meeting options panel:
The organiser and presenters will also be able to change the role of any individual participant (“Make an attendee” or “Make a presenter") during the meeting.
Microsoft has backtracked on the future of OneNote 2016
In 2018 Microsoft announced that it was no longer going to support the OneNote 2016 Windows App and removed it from the Office download centre in Office 365. However, and one can only assume that this is due to industry pressure, they have backtracked and confirmed that it will now be supported. From the 10th March 2020 it will once again be included in the Office download suite.
Get more insights into your documents with File Hover Card extensions
When you hover over a document in a SharePoint library or the web portal for OneDrive for Business, you see a "File Hover Card" which provides insights into the document such as when it was last modified.
Microsoft are now adding new features to show a Teams conversation or a meeting invite that references the document. The conversations displayed on the file card will only be visible to those users who took part in them. This means that you won’t see another person’s conversations that are not related to the file in question, and they won’t see yours.
In addition, the new File Hover Card feature will show you who has viewed your files. When someone views a file you own, SharePoint displays the people information and profile image of the viewer in the file hover card. Combined, you can now easily and quickly get real insights into your documents.
Replace your classic SharePoint root site with a modern communication site
Until recently, your Office 365 environment had its main SharePoint root site (which should form the natural landing page for your company intranet) stuck in old classic SharePoint mode and therefore could not benefit from all of the new great features that SharePoint modern sites offer.
Well no longer. Now you can create a new modern communication site and then ask your IT Admin to promote that as the new root site. Your root site is https://contoso.sharepoint.com (where contoso is replaced by your domain name. If you have data in your existing root site then do not worry. The old root site in not overwritten, it is simply given a new URL.
More from Microsoft on modernising your root site
Bookmark and save files for later
With this feature you will now be able to bookmark files and folders across OneDrive and SharePoint for later access.
To bookmark a document, just select it in the SharePoint library or through the OneDrive web portal and on the Ribbon click the new "Save for Later" icon. You will then see an aggregate of everything you have saved in the "Saved for later" section in the left-hand menu of your OneDrive web portal, making it easy for you to quickly get back to your important documents that you did not have time to read or those you regularly need to access.
Easily add and share emails from Outlook to a Microsoft Teams channel
New integration between Outlook and Teams makes it easy to collaborate no matter where the conversation is taking place. Teams has always allowed you to forward an email to a Teams channel so that it can be visible to all members of the channel and also to enable internal channel discussions related to the email. For example, you receive an email from a client related to a project you are working on and you need to share this email with the project team.
Previously, the only option was to forward the email to everyone "who might be interested". With Teams, you could forward the email to the correct project channel and then start a conversation with the specific project team members who need to be engaged, whilst making it visible to any other project team members to keep them informed.
Much more efficient for everyone, reduces email clutter and makes the email and surrounding conversation discoverable both during and after the project closure.
With this new enhancement rolling out in 2020, rather than forwarding the email to the channel, you can move and share the conversation from Outlook, including attachments, into a Teams chat or channel conversation simply by clicking on the ‘"Share to Teams" button in Outlook. However, this is not just a one way process, you will also be able to take a Teams conversation and share this as an Outlook email by clicking on the more options ("…") icon in a conversation.
As mentioned, these changes will start rolling out early next year, however there is nothing to stop you preparing for this improved way of working by planning your use of Teams and how you can use the current "forward an email" feature.
More from Microsoft on what's new in Microsoft Teams
Microsoft again recognised by Gartner as a Leader in Content Services Platforms
Concerned about the future of SharePoint as your companies central document store? Then, for the 3rd year in a row Gartner has identified SharePoint as the leading content management platform.
Gartner measures and compares the leading platforms using the following characteristics:
More from Microsoft on Gartner's report
Simplify access to key applications from within Office 365
The Office 365 app launcher (the 9 dots in the top left when signed into Office 365) provides each user with access to all the applications they are licenced or authorised to use. Your users can also access the list of applications from the Office 365 home page.
Currently, your users can pin their favourite applications via the Office 365 app launcher by viewing all apps and then clicking the three vertical dots to open the sub-menu against a specific application. The pinned applications always appear at the top of the Office 365 app launcher and the remaining applications will be shown for each user in the order in which they have been most frequently accessed by the user.
In addition, a feature that has existed in Office 365 for a while, allowed administrators to create company specific items on the Office 365 app launcher that could open other line of business applications or external websites. However, there was no way to control where these appeared on each individual user's Office 365 app launcher and therefore could disappear off the initial view and be "hidden" behind the "All apps" menu. This could cause confusion and training issues as each user may have a different view and not easily know where to find the key company applications.
With this change, only administrators can pin applications (maximum of 3) and this will apply to all users, who will no longer be able to override this.
So, what are the benefits?
You company now selects and pins the three key applications to everyone's Office 365 app launcher, and this will consistently show no matter if the user uses the Office 365 app launcher or the Office 365 Home page. Secondly, administrators can now make better use of creating company specific "apps" to open other line of business applications or resources.
Together, these should simplify the training of users on the use of the Office 365 app launcher and provide for a more consistent implementation.
More from Microsoft on customising the app launcher
Outlook on the web - improved access to attachments
This change only applies to your users who use Outlook on the web and not the desktop version. The change will allow your users to quickly and easily see all files they have sent and received as attachments.
Once this change has been rolled out, a new paperclip icon will appear at the bottom of the left navigation column in Outlook. When users go to the Files view, they'll see all the files they have sent and received as attachments from their inbox without having to filter emails for those with attachments and then open each email to see if it contains the correct attachment.
More control over your intranet pages with modern SharePoint image resizing
SharePoint enables great intranets to be built using out-of-the-box features and now Microsoft is introducing, from February 2020, the ability to resize an image from within the modern page.
The modern SharePoint site is comprised of web parts, the building blocks of the page. The Image web part lets an editor insert an image on a page, whether from their SharePoint site, their computer, or an external web location and with this update, page editors will also be able to resize images in the image web part.
Powerful addition to the comments capability in Word, Excel and PowerPoint
The ability to add comments within the Office Product suite has come a long way from those early days. Comments are now threaded allowing greater collaboration and Microsoft then introduced the ability to "@mention" a colleague from within the comment, and this would send them an email with a link to open the document to view and respond to the comment.
With this change, when a user gets an email notification that someone has @mentioned them or who has replied to their comment, the email may now show both the comment thread and the surrounding document context, without requiring them to open the document.
In addition, users who receive the email will be able to reply to the comment without needing to open the document. However, please note that this capability will roll out to the web version of Word, Excel and PowerPoint first and then the windows desktop versions later in the year.
More from Microsoft on using @mention in comments
Integrate Office 365 To-Do with Siri shortcuts
During the last few months of 2019, Microsoft launched a suite of new To-Do features for iPhone and iPad users. To-Do is the Office 365 all-in-one task management app that consolidates your tasks from Outlook, Planner and personal tasks you enter directly into the app.
Microsoft has now integrated To-Do into the Siri shortcut capability available on iOS.
Not familiar with Siri shortcuts? Siri shortcuts are designed to take the normal actions you use in various apps and allow you to add them to Siri. Through the Shortcuts app you can also run a variety of automations, such as "open a list when I get to a particluar location".
More from Microsoft on how Siri shortcuts can be integrated to the Office 365 To-Do app
Author: SO365 Insights
Outlook on the web - Meeting Insights
Meeting Insights makes it easy to prepare for meetings. When you click on a meeting event in Outlook on the web calendar, Outlook will suggest content (like emails and files) that it feels is related to the event or the attendees.
Content is tailored for each user and users will only see content they are authorised to see. Therefore, meeting participants may not see the same suggested content.
This is a nice feature as it may suggest content you are not aware of or provide quick access to related content. The limitation is that the feature will only be useful to those individuals who use Outlook on the web instead of the Outlook desktop app or even Teams Calendar!
Sharing Reports for OneDrive
We all know how difficult it is to keep track of which of your documents in your OneDrive for Business have been shared externally. This change enables you to generate a report that shows how your OneDrive for Business content is being shared outside the organisation and therefore be able to take action should any of the content sharing need to be cancelled.
You can generate the report from the OneDrive Settings -> "More Settings" page.
OneDrive Settings is the cog icon in the ribbon when you open OneDrive via a browser. The report outputs a CSV file that contains a row for every unique user, permission, link, and item on that site.
Microsoft To-Do - Notifications for shared lists
Microsoft To-Do has supported the ability to create a task list and then share it and all the tasks within with other people.
More from Microsoft on creating and sharing lists:
This is a great additional feature that enhances the usability of To-Do. One drawback however was that when someone you shared the list with updated a task, you were not notified. Well this is all changing, during December 2019 Microsoft is rolling out automatic push notifications informing you of any changes in any of the task lists you share.
Form customisation in SharePoint lists and libraries
You can now customise the order and visibility of fields on SharePoint forms in lists and libraries without the need to convert the form to a PowerApp.
To use this new feature, click "Show/Hide Fields" in the "Edit Form" menu on the Form details pane - if you cannot see the "Edit Form" option and instead just see "Customize with PowerApps" then your Office 365 tenant has not been updated yet.
Why is this useful?
Overtime you may have columns on SharePoint lists and libraries that you no longer need, but you do not want to remove them from the List or Library as they contain useful legacy data. This new feature allows you to easily hide the redundant columns on the Form and also change the order of the remaining columns to make it more efficient for users to capture and edit information. Although this could be achieved by converting the Form to a PowerApp, this was a daunting process for many site owners and members.
Guest access to Microsoft Teams using a Gmail address
You will now be able to invite new external guests to your Team who only have a Gmail email address without needing them to create a Microsoft Account or an Office 365 Account. This will greatly increase the flexibility of teams when working with external guests.
This change does require your IT department to change the settings in the Admin Center to enable this.
More from Microsoft on Google federation:
Author: SO365 Insights