We’ve had a bumper year on Practical 365 with over 200 articles published through the year. Much of the thanks goes to our new expanded team of tech experts who have joined Tony, Paul, Natalie and myself on the team to share their knowledge on a daily basis.

To finish up 2021 I wanted to share just eleven articles that you can’t miss and are worth a read (or even a re-read) as you break for the holiday season and get ready for 2022.

Microsoft Interviews You Won’t Get Anywhere Else

On the Practical 365 Podcast Paul Robichaux and myself were joined by a plethora of great guests during 2021 sharing useful knowledge. If you aren’t subscribed, head of to the The Practical 365 Podcast and take a listen.

Back in April, Kamal Janardhhan, General Manager for Microsoft Viva Insights, joined us for a Deep Dive. As you would imagine, this was one Tony Redmond couldn’t miss and he joined us to ask the tough questions. It’s worth a watch as it gives you important insight and answers to the types of questions you’ll need to answer if you are planning on deploying Insights:

In May, Tony bagged an exclusive interview with Rish Tandon, Corporate Vice President of Teams Engineering. Microsoft MVPs will know that Rish is the go-to person if you want to understand what’s planned in Microsoft Teams in the future and to get a look deep under the hood. Tony discussed many of the things we love to hear about with Rish including how Teams was scaled up quickly, how it is being made more reliable, how changes are pushed out to Teams, what sort of challenges delay new features and much more. As you might imagine a big part of the chat focuses on Teams Client Performance – something we’ve all had questions about:

Talking Teams with Rish Tandon

Useful information you don’t want to miss

With so much information on Practical 365 you could be excused for missing some golden nuggets of information throughout the year, so I wanted to highlight a few really useful articles – some were wildly popular, but some slipped under the radar.

One popular article recently (possible due to changes to Microsoft’s CSP program and price increases in 2022) was from Tony Redmond, who has created a guide on how to report on your Microsoft 365 licensing, based on the SKUs and Service Plans (i.e. who is enabled for which main licenses and what features have been enabled for them):

How to Generate an Office 365 Licensing Report Using the Microsoft Graph SDK for PowerShell

And with Teams Connect (aka Shared Channels) on the way, apart from simpler collaboration with partners in Teams – are there any other big challenges that Teams Connect (and Azure AD B2B Direct Connect) will help with? For me, the answer is complex migrations. I’ve worked on several lately and I explain exactly where I expect to see Teams Connect being especially useful:

Will Teams Connect unlock complex migrations to Microsoft 365?

Microsoft MVP and Microsoft Certified Solutions Master, Ingo Gegenwarth, joined us to write about how he manages Exchange Online at massive scale. Ingo runs an Exchange Online environment with over 100,000 employees (and used to manage the same size environment on Exchange Server 2016). Ingo deals with the challenges of using PowerShell at scale in a complex environment with varying user needs on a daily basis. He has some straightforward and immediately useful tips for speeding up any Microsoft 365 PowerShell scripts – in particular Exchange Online ones – that you can use in any size environment:

Manage Exchange Online at Scale

Automation and improving the user experience is crucial and a great way to add value when you manage a Microsoft 365 environment. Sean McAvinue has published some great guides over the last year and this one, which shows you how to create custom guest invites is typical of his hands-on guidance that shows you how to go one step beyond the typical admin:

Creating Custom B2B Guest User Invitations with Graph API

And, with the ability to rename your SharePoint Online URL in Public Preview and lots of mergers and acquisitions happening, you might want to avoid a tenant migration for the sake of a re-brand or re-name. Although it’s public preview at the moment and has some caveats, you can speak to your account manager and ask if they’ll allow you to do this in production.

Renaming the SharePoint Online URL for an Office 365 Tenant

Microsoft 365 features you need to know about and probably aren’t using yet

Passwordless Authentication was formerly launched this year. This guide from former Microsoft MVP and now Microsoft employee, Dominik Hoefling, focused on the FIDO2 components that you can use with this. Just in the last week, that option came as a surprise to a customer I was working with that had thought they were blocked from using Multi-Factor Authentication

Achieving Passwordless Authentication in Azure AD

Tony Redmond wrote about Teams’ webinar capability. This new capability combines several new features in Teams and turns a normal meeting into something better than Teams Live Events. Over the last month, I’ve shown my senior leadership team how to use the main new features this offers for town-hall meetings. I expect that as it evolves and integrations appear with marketing platforms that it will be the go-to solution for many:

Teams Meetings Get Webinar Capability

Avoiding Holiday Misery by being Mindful of how to avoid the biggest Cyber Security Threats

Finally, avoid some holiday misery with some basic guidance on both new features you could enable and guidance on what you already should be doing.

Tony writes about new features that have arrived in Azure AD that allow you to improve your MFA effectiveness, which are easily switched on. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should switch them on just as you head out the door for the holiday break – but if you have time, or are looking for a small new year project, this could be it:

Improve MFA Effectiveness in Your Microsoft 365 Tenant in 30 Minutes

Any round-up of posts would be remiss without a mention of Exchange and the issues it has had this year. Although Exchange vulnerabilities have calmed down lately (thankfully), one sensible thing you can do, in addition to keeping current with patches is to make sure that after migrating to Exchange Online you stop publishing Exchange to the internet:

Stop Publishing Exchange to the Internet After Migrating to Exchange Online

Happy holidays from the Practical 365 team and see you in 2022

About the Author

Steve Goodman

Technology Writer and Chief Editor for AV Content at Practical 365, focused on Microsoft 365. A 12-time Microsoft MVP, author of several technology books and regular Microsoft conference speaker. Steve works at Advania in the UK as Field Chief Technology Officer, advising business and IT on the best way to get the most from Microsoft Cloud technology.

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