Notable Microsoft Teams Announcements!

The Most Notable Microsoft Teams Announcements of 2020 (through Oct) 

The later part of 2020 has seen a flurry of updates, previews and announced roadmap items for Microsoft Teams.  Let us look at the announcements that are likely to have the most impact. 

HealthCare: Virtual Rounding and Care Coordination 

2020 has been a stressful time for health care professional across the globe.  From exposure risks to PPE shortages, healthcare providers are turning to technology to provide solutions.   Microsoft has answered this call by announcing Virtual Rounding and Care Coordination.   

Virtual rounding, a Teams app that aims to reduce exposure while health care professionals do their daily checkups on their patients.  The goal is to limit contact to infected or vulnerable patients by leveraging portable carts equipped with video screen, mics, camera’s, and speakers.  This allows healthcare professionals to maintain distancing when physical presence is not needed for diagnostics or treatment. 

Care Coordination, which began its private preview October 1st, allows healthcare to aggregate patient data, provide care plans and test results and communicate with each other regardless of physical location all in a HIPAA compliant platform.  The introduction of Teams for care coordination aims to improve efficiency while minimizing exposure. 

SharePoint home sites for Teams   

The SharePoint home site experience announced in 2019 allows organization to create a new or migrate their existing intranet sites to SharePoint.  With the increasing ability to embed your organizations apps and resources into Microsoft Teams many organizations are hoping Teams will be come the single pane of glass for all needs.   

So why create a home site to serve as your organizations intranet if it will detract from all the work you have done in teams?  

Enter the SharePoint home site app for Teams.  This home site app allows you to deploy your intranet home site through the Teams client. 

The announcement came to us in September 2020 and we are eagerly awaiting release details. 

https://techcommunity.microsoft.com/t5/microsoft-sharepoint-blog/innovations-for-workplace-communications-and-employee-engagement/ba-p/1696149

Teams Breakout Rooms 

Many in person conferences and events will include a keynote or introduction meeting that all attendees are present for before breaking into smaller groups for more granular content.  Recreating this experience virtually has proven difficult.  Microsoft Teams breakout rooms hopes to simplify this experience.  

Teams Breakout Rooms will allow meeting organizer to split attendees into smaller groups and bring everyone back together without the need to drop and rejoin multiple meetings.   

The announcement for Teams breakout rooms came to us in July and we hope to see previews or general availability before the end of 2020. 

Advanced Communication Add-on 

2020 has seen an interesting race to provide more attendees, more features, and more video feeds between collaboration platforms.  The majority of normally in person conferences, large presentations and even college orientations have been converted to virtual events.  2020 more than ever has created a need for very large virtual events.   

Microsoft’s answer to this need is the advanced communications add-on.  At release, the advance communication add-on increased the maximum attendees for Teams live events to 20,000.   

Features coming later this year include: 

  • Teams meeting maximum members increase to 1,000 
  • The ability for a Teams meeting to have up 20,000 overflow participants in a view only meeting experience 
  • Custom Lobby Branding 

To take advantage of these features, the organizer of the meeting/live event will need the advanced communication add-on currently priced at $12 per user/month.  Attendees DO NOT need the add-on. There is also a 60-day trial available through the admin center. 

Considering this new and not quite yet saturated market, I would expect to see more feature announcements coming soon. 

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoftteams/teams-add-on-licensing/advanced-communications#:~:text=%20Advanced%20Communications%20provides%20enhanced%20calling%20and%20meeting,across%20meetings%20for%20your%20internal%20and…%20More%20

Custom Meeting Layouts 

If you are looking to make a good impression on clients or impress you coworkers with your big presentation, Microsoft may have given you a secret weapon.  Teams custom meeting layouts allow you, the presenter to customize what attendees are seeing.  Microsoft Ignite gave us a preview of new tech allowing you to overlay the presenter on a PowerPoint slide.  Who knows, maybe someday virtual meetings may look more professional than traditional in-person meetings with half the effort! 

Office 365 Announces ProPlus Device-based Subscription for Education

Office 365 ProPlus Device-based Subscription for Education provides administrators an experience that mirrors the user-based model, but with ease of management and access to the desktop Office 365 desktop apps. You can assign the device-based subscription to any device within the institution’s organization, including, but not limited to open access, lab or library devices providing consistent user experience.

Attention IT administrators: Announcing Office 365 ProPlus Device-based Subscription for Education!

Decommission ADFS: How to switch from ADFS to Password Sync for Office 365

Recently, two new methods for Office 365 SSO have become available: Azure AD Seamless SSO, and Azure AD Domain Join. Active Directory Federation Services (ADFS) had (and still has) its place within Office 365 environments, but it is not nearly as attractive and easy to use as the new methods. Continue reading “Decommission ADFS: How to switch from ADFS to Password Sync for Office 365”

How to Use Office 365 First Release

What is first release?

First release is a selective program that any administrator can enroll in to try out new Office 365 features before they roll out to everyone else. This is a part of all Microsoft’s Office 365 plans (with the exception of consumer plans). The features that you receive will be fully functional as they are tested by Microsoft internally before they reach your doorstep. Continue reading “How to Use Office 365 First Release”

Maintaining Your Office 2016 Installation Source

The script can be found here

Deploying an updated Office installation has always been an annoyance of mine.  It is ideal to be able to deploy a fully updated Office installation so you don’t have to run a software update scan and then wait for all the office patches to download and install.  Having to install less software updates can reduce your deployment or build and capture times significantly.

Continue reading “Maintaining Your Office 2016 Installation Source”

Skype for Business Voice and PSTN Calling

With Microsoft’s announcement of the new E5 plans, Micah Linehan, Now Micros’ Cloud Sherpa evaluates what this gives us.

I have had the pleasure over the past several of months to be a part of the Skype for Business closed preview, and there are a few things that I am excited to share about the experience I have had so far. There are a bunch of great features but more importantly the refresh of Skype Voice in the office environment.

Continue reading “Skype for Business Voice and PSTN Calling”

Off Boarding and Linking User Identities From Office 365

During a recent Microsoft Office 365 migration, Now Micro’s Cloud Sherpa, Micah Linehan, encountered a tenancy migration where he had to work through reinstalling Exchange on premise. In this particular case, a vase majority of users had previously been created without Exchange. As Micah moved forward and installed Exchanges, the users were directory synchronized; however, a remote user in Exchange was not. He put together the following recommendations and best practices for working through these issues, as he found there were few technical resources (articles, blogs, etc.) out there. Hopefully this post will alleviate some of the confusion and ease any off boarding or tenancy conversion issues within Office 365.

Continue reading “Off Boarding and Linking User Identities From Office 365”

Managing User Identities in ADFS

Windows Active Directory - Now MicroNow Micro’s Micah Linehan identifies common issues with identities in an ADFS environment and provides insight on how ADFS and directory synchronization actually work.

User Creations and Troubleshooting
User management after deploying ADFS can be more confusing to the direct staff and those who support it. For example,

  • Are the addresses stuck as .onmicrosoft.com and not switching?
  • Are staff unable to add in alternate email addresses?
  • What about directory synchronization errors?

It is amazing how simple process and workflow user account provisioning can remediate most of those issues. Here are a few things that can ease a lot of issues with user identities:

Continue reading “Managing User Identities in ADFS”