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January 2024 Microsoft 365 Updates

Updated: Jan 10

Hello, and welcome to January!  


We have a brand-new year to conquer- let’s make it a great one.  Let’s talk about new Microsoft 365 items that showed up in December and a little bit about what we hope to see happen in ’24. We’ll also have a Pro-Tip of the Month on the way out the door as a sweet reward for reading to the end.  My goal in writing this is to make you a Microsoft 365 rockstar! Please steal any or all of this and share it with your user community so that they will know what new toys Microsoft has delivered for them. We pay the same every month regardless of how much value we get from the Microsoft 365 platform, let’s get as much value as we can. 



microsoft 365 updates january 2024


Microsoft Teams Updates 

We’ll start with Loop in Teams channels. Loop, as you may remember, is a super slick collaboration component that lets you work with others in Office Apps, Email, and Teams.  Now you can drop a Loop component into a Teams channel and let your team go to work. You can use a list (bullet, check, or number), text, tables, tasks, and more. You still cannot use Loop with external guests, but it is a great way to have lots of people collaborate on amazing things. Rolling out, but not yet in most tenants, is the collapsing of all the actions at the bottom of the chat window into a +. That means instead of the long list of icons you will see the A-pencil “fancy edit” icon, the emoticon icon, a plus sign, and the send icon. 


meet app in microsoft teams

You are looking at my “Meet” app in Teams. I removed a couple of client names, but that is what I see at the end of my day today. You will notice that it shows me a few upcoming meetings and (this is the important part!) all my past meetings. I can click on “Missed” to see who is angry with me, “Recorded” to see if that missed meeting is “on tape,” “Content” to see if there are any documents to review or “Mentions” to see if someone called out my name. This is such a better view of my meeting life than the previous calendar view that I have moved the calendar icon to the “other” bucket, and pinned “Meet” in the left navigation bar on my Teams. To do the same you can click on the three dots in that nav bar (More apps) and search for “Meet”. You will see the purple icon with a video camera on it. I right-clicked on it and chose “Pin”. I also right-clicked on the Calendar app and chose “Unpin” it. If I ever do want that view back, I can click Meet and “Open my calendar.” Try it, you’ll like it.  


I will also mention that the “New” version of Teams is getting a new version of OneDrive in the “Files” tab. It will match the one you now get in a browser; we talked about that when Microsoft updated the OneDrive Home experience a few months ago. It is now rolling out to tenants around the world.  


microsoft teams icon and screen

The last Teams update for this month is Meeting Decorate. This will take your real background and replicate it virtually. You’ll end up with a background that is “inspired” by your real one, just without the distraction of people walking behind you. To Decorate your background while you are in a meeting click on “Effects and avatars” and look for the Decorate icon at the top of the Backgrounds section. You can always start a one-person meeting to try it in a “test” before you use it in a “production” or real meeting.  


New Teams Tenant 

As we move on to the next Microsoft 356 application, I’ll remind you that we are less than 90 days away from the “retirement” of the “Classic” Teams. If you have made any custom apps that live in Teams, or even if you are using someone else’s app in Teams, you should make sure it works in the new client today so you’ll have time to adjust.  


SharePoint Updates 

SharePoint keeps getting better as Microsoft continues to invest in it.  One example is the new Document Library Templates. When you create a new document library, you can now choose to use a prebuilt template for Media, Invoices or Learning. I am sure more templates will follow in the coming months.  

 

screenshot of sharepoint templates

  

These templates come with Content (which you will delete before going to production!), Structure, Metadata, and Content Types.  It is a great way to see what you can do with a Document Library, and even if you never use one of the Templates you can use them to spark your imagination, remember the more we use these tools, the more value we get from our subscription fees! Also new this month is the ability to request eSignature for PDF documents without that document ever leaving your tenant. This is a pay-as-you-go service, but it could be incredibly useful to some of us. You can request signatures from internal and external users and the service will take some setup before you can start looking for John Hancock.  


Microsoft Outlook Updates 

Outlook is even older than SharePoint, but it too gets better every month. Who knew a simple email client could do so much! New this month is the ability to talk to Outlook, both on Windows and on the web. You simply place your cursor in the right place, click “Message” and then “Dictate” and start talking. You can add punctuation with their names such as comma, question marks, or periods. Symbols are also available such as the dollar sign, percent sign and so on. If you need to use another language it will be available from the drop-down menu. I fell off my bicycle a few years ago and broke a finger, boy, how I could have used this back then!


Microsoft Viva Updates 

Microsoft Viva is also continuing to get better. One example is Viva Connect, which is a great way to give your team the content and systems they need wherever they are. New this month is an increase in the number of experiences you can offer your team, now set at 50. That means you can have 50 custom experiences if Viva Connect for your team so your frontline, mobile and executive workers all have unique content and apps. Viva Connect is a great way to surface content from SharePoint and other systems in Teams, both on the desktop and mobile. Other Viva changes include updates to Viva Pulse to allow you to create a Viva Pulse from scratch or a library, and updates to Viva Goals to give you customizable goal terms and structures.  


Microsoft 365 Updates Coming in 2024 

With what is already released out of the way, we can now talk a little bit about what I expect to show up for us in ’24. We will, of course, continue to hear all about Copilot. I expect that Microsoft will streamline the process of adding it to your tenant and so the 300-seat “you must be this tall to ride” sign will go away, and even smaller organizations will be able to leverage the tool. It will also get better at understanding the context of what we are asking, making answers more accurate.  

sharepoint logo

On the SharePoint front, we will see a lot of energy poured into SharePoint Premium as Microsoft works on making the sales pitch more compelling. We will also see page creation get easier and more intuitive. 


On the Outlook & Teams front, I hope we’ll finally start to see convergence, meaning we can see emails in Teams and chats in Outlook. The “chat from Outlook” feature is starting to roll out, we’ll talk more about it next month. Lastly, we’ve been hearing that virtual reality is where all the cool kids are going to hang out and it might finally be true. Teams has gone from showing virtual backgrounds to showing virtual people (avatars) and will soon show virtual people in virtual spaces. We all work with people who are in other places, this is yet another step towards making that experience the same as breathing the same air. I’m excited about all of these topics, crossing my fingers we get them all soon.  

 

JourneyTEAM’s Pro Tip of the Month 

About a year ago I recorded a video showing you how to use the “Book with me” feature to make it easy for folks who work at different companies to get on your calendar, even without talking to you first. Click here for that video.  


journeyteam pro tip of the month

Today, we are going to talk about making it easy for folks who work at the same company to see your calendar and how you can share the right amount of calendar details with external partners. If you want to follow along, open Outlook and change to the Calendar tab. You will see “Share Calendar” in the Ribbon Bar, click it. It will show all the accounts you have hooked it to, and the calendars for each of those accounts. I suspect in most cases there will just be one account and one calendar, click it. If you have shared your calendar with someone already, their name will show up in the “Currently sharing with” box, along with the permission level you’ve granted them. You will see permissions listed below so you’ll know what they mean, ranging from “None” to “Can edit.”  


If you have shared with others, this would be a good time to review their permissions to make sure that you didn’t overshare. The very top entry (and maybe only) will be “My Organization” and this is where you can make your coworkers lives much easier. At the very least I would set that to “Can see when I’m busy,” and if you have no secrets at all you can choose “Can view all details.” If you had a need to have someone help you schedule your day but you didn’t want to give them access to your email, you could extend them “Can edit” permissions. As I work with multiple partners at the same time, I generally have a short list of external emails that have “Can view when I’m busy” which can really cut down the effort needed to schedule a working session. You should review this list regularly to make sure it has the right people on it and that they have the right permissions.  

The last thought on calendar sharing is that you can always override your default for a specific calendar event by marking it Private in the Home Ribbon Bar on a new Appointment. This will show up on your shared calendar as Private, not showing the Title or content of the appointment. Getting your sharing and permissions right can make it much easier to collaborate with others while protecting your privacy at the same time. 

 

Ready to Maximize Adoption of Microsoft 365? 

We have expertise in every corner of the vast M365 platform and can help with everything from email to SharePoint, to Business Process Automation with Power Automate or a Power App. We can even create a bespoke application in Azure to help you find a way to solve your “corner-case” problems. We’re always listening at JourneyTEAM, drop us a line



Article by: Kevin Zollinger, Microsoft 365 Solutions Specialist

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