In this post I wanted to provide a quick overview of some of the updates and new features, which are coming to the services across Microsoft 365.
Private channels are now live across all tenants! It is important to provide some background on how private channels works.
Creating a private channel in a team, will actually provision a new SharePoint site collection for each private channel. The difference here is that this site collection cannot be accessed from the browser. The site will store the contents of the data from the private channel.
In order to address the increase in the number of site collections which will potentially be provisioned in tenants because of Private channels, Microsoft has announced the top limit for number of site collections is increasing from 500,000 to 2 million.
Virtual consult is a new Teams app for health care which will provide a platform for doctor/patient consultations using Teams.
This will allow Doctors to schedule appointments with users, those users can join from a web browser and will not be required to create an account in order to join the appointment. This will then use the Teams platform to provide a secure environment for consultations to be carried out. The team of doctors can manage all consultations from within Teams natively.
The Virtual Consult app can be expanded into other use cases across the industry such as Customer Service calls and Job Candidate Interviews.
Microsoft have announced multi-window chats are coming to Teams! This was a normal feature of Skype for Business that we were all used to. Users will soon be able to pop out individual chats and meeting into a separate window.
There is going to be growing integration with Outlook and other apps such as Yammer, Tasks into Microsoft Teams. Outlook will have the ability to directly send emails to a Teams channel – the current approach is to email the channel using the channel’s unique email address.
When you receive email notifications on chats in Team you are able to view the full message with its replies and respond directly within outlook without leaving the application.
The integration with Tasks is also improving across teams, with Tasks providing a unified view of all tasks assigned to you across Planner, To Do and Outlook tasks.
There have a number of major announcements coming to OneDrive, I have summarised a few of these here.
File Size and Synchronisation Improvements
OneDrive is increasing the support for the maximum size for a single file to 100GB!
There is also going to be additional support for Delta Synchronisation in OneDrive. Delta sync was initially only available for Office files, which allows you to only synchronise changes to Office documents rather than synchronising the whole office document after a change.
OneDrive will now support delta synchronisation of most file types such as JPEG, PDF, MOV and MP4 files. As an example, making a change to metadata of a 100GB mp4 file will now only synchronise the delta change instead of a full resynchronisation of the file.
This new differential sync will provide significant bandwidth savings for customers.
OneDrive Block Downloads is the ability to Block Downloads when sharing documents. This is great when you want to ensure there remains a single copy of a document, when the user opens the sharing link, they can only view/edit the document from within the browser in Office Online.
This allows users to upload files to a Folder without seeing the contents of the folder. This is great and reminds me of a scenario which a customer recently requested: they wanted to have a SharePoint site for third parties to submit tenders, but they did not want each party to each other’s documents.
This takes away the requirement to have a separate document library/shared folder for each third party!
Sharing & Collaboration
An improved experience is coming to Outlook and Teams to improve the sharing of documents. Users will be able to paste in Sharing links to documents into Teams chats and email messages and have the ability to edit the sharing permissions directly within the message.
Another great improvement in this space is the experience when pasting in the link, the document will appear as the name of the file within the Teams conversation or email message. For example, when we currently share document links in a team’s message, they appear as the long URL to the file. This improvement will update the link with the name of the document and give the view of an attachment – as shown in the screenshot below.
The new edge browser based on Chromium will be released for General Availability on January 15th. I’ve been using the beta version for some time and loving it! It has all the great stuff of the Chrome browser with additional Microsoft integration.
When you sign in with your Office 365 account your new tab/home page can transform into the central portal with your recent documents you’ve been working on across OneDrive/SharePoint Online and quick access to your OneDrive documents.
One of the great features is the Microsoft Search functionality which will allow you to search across your OneDrive and all SharePoint site you have access to.
This is also available today when you use Bing, while logged into your Office 365 account, as you can see in screenshot below…it is bringing up my search results across SharePoint and Microsoft Teams Chats/Channels.
Azure Active Directory
Azure AD Connect Cloud Provisioning
This is a lightweight sync agent to sync user accounts which can allow synchronisation from multiple Active Directories to a single Azure AD tenant. This also supports multiple instances in the same Forest to provide redundancy and high availability.
This is welcoming news and opens up capabilities for organisations to support scenarios where they have purchased additional companies and need integration into existing Azure AD tenant.
This was due to be available in public preview by end of November 2019.
Azure Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is now available for free under the Security Defaults feature.
This a baseline service of default security configurations which Microsoft is rolling out across all tenants using Conditional Access policies.
As mentioned above the main aspect of this is enforcing MFA for all users. In fact, the security defaults policy will require users to register for MFA within 14days of first logging on after the policy is enabled.
In addition to MFA, security defaults will also:
- block legacy authentication so old clients which do not support modern Authentication such as Office 2010 will no longer be able to connect. Clients that also connect using IMAP, SMTP, POP3! protocols will also be blocked.
- Accessing the Azure Portal, Azure PowerShell or Azure CLI will enforce MFA for the user, no 14-day registration policy will apply, and user will not be able to proceed without MFA.
- Users with Administrative roles will also be enforced with MFA each time they login
The last 2 requirements are important in ensuring privileged access to the centre of company’s tenant is protected.
It is worth noting Security Defaults will not be enforced if a tenant is already using a conditional access policy – if this is the case, security defaults cannot currently be enabled. The intention here is that security defaults is designed for users which do not have Azure AD Premium licensing which provides the functionality to enforce Conditional Access policies for features such as MFA and location-based access.
Microsoft 365 Admin Centre – Cloud Shell
If you have come across the Azure Cloud Shell when working in the Azure portal, you will love this. Cloud Shell is being introduced to the M365 Admin Centre!
This will allow you to connect to your tenant and run PowerShell scripts from within the browser. This is great for when you need to connect to a customer’s tenant and do not have the latest PowerShell modules installed locally.
Microsoft Migration Manager
A final note on Microsoft’s recent purchase of Movere. This will be integrated into a central Migration service called Migration Manager and will incorporate the current SharePoint Migration Tool (SPMT) which allows migration of On-premise fileservers and SharePoint Server to SharePoint Online into the Migration service.
The Migration service will be offered for free for all Microsoft 365 license users, with initial release available now in the North America region and worldwide by end of 2019.