For the third and final day this week I caught up with Paul Robichaux to talk about Ignite 2020 and discuss some more of the announcements this week. Just like attending the conference in-person, there’s always more sessions available than you have time for, so as well as listening out for interesting nuggets today, we’ve been catching up on some Azure AD announcements today. Watch the video above, and have a read below for a quick overview.
More Microsoft Teams new features
We had lots of new Teams features announced on day one, but that wasn’t all Microsoft had in store. I made time to watch Microsoft Teams Calling Made Simple and Microsoft Teams Mobile App: What’s new & What’s Next.
Of particular interest is Microsoft Teams which will get Survivable Branch Appliance functionality. You might remember this from Skype for Business on-premises, where a Session Border Controller ran a version of Skype for Business designed to support a scenario where a branch office was unable to communicate with centralised datacenters.
With the Teams equivalent this expands Teams Offline Mode. Today, Teams can function partly offline, though of course you can’t make calls or send messages. In this mode, Teams will be able to communicate with a virtual machine running Microsoft software (which, we would assume runs some of the next-gen Skype stack that Teams uses) and allows PSTN or SIP outbound calling, if the WAN connection or internet connection is lost. And, in the future, the ability for Teams to make calls between users within the offline branch is coming too.
Teams on mobile is also getting a variety of new features. In particular, you’ll be able to transfer calls seamlessly between desktop and mobile. Different to Teams Companion Mode (which allows you to join a call on both mobile and desktop) this will give the option to seamless switch over to your mobile device.
And some of the more recent features such as Together Mode and Large Gallery View are coming to mobile. 2×4 and 3×3 are already here, and I expect these views will be welcome to tablet users in particular.
It is however a little disappointing to find that Custom Backgrounds don’t appear to be coming to mobile. It’s a common ask, and because mobile cameras are so good, and devices like the iPhone 11 and Galaxy S20 are such powerful devices – you would expect they could handle the additional processing. Perhaps that is a challenge for the future.
Azure Active Directory gets new features designed to help with security
We also talked about the excellent session Azure Active Directory: our vision and roadmap to help you secure remote access and boost employee productivity, presented by Joy Chik, Bailey Bercik, Jasmine Betthauser and Joey Cruz. It’s an excellent session and worth a watch as it’s extremely well-presented and packed with demos.
One area of risk for many Microsoft 365 deployments can be users consenting to third-party applications accessing their data. In the second part of my recent article about Microsoft 365 Backups, I highlight this as an area of risk for organizations. As Paul points out in the video, this becomes an area of frustration for users when consent is blocked though, because even some third-party mobile apps that work with Microsoft 365 are moving to use this access model.
Microsoft introduced new functionality to help here, including publisher verification and policies to manage and allow consent for lower-risk activities, plus the ability to step-up based on risk and for users to report suspicious applications:
Another interesting future new feature was shown at the end of the session – Secure collaboration for multi-tenant organizations:
For organizations coming together due to a merger, this will be a key feature to help solve the issues organizations have accessing resources across multiple tenants. As Paul and I discussed, we expect this will be a topic that his colleague at Quadrotech, Mike Weaver, will be especially interested in.
We didn’t have time to talk about several new enhancements worthy of a mention – but we expect some organizations managing Conditional Access policies will be interested in the new API for management. In Microsoft’s demo, we were shown how this can be managed using Logic Apps and allow for approvals of changes to be managed via Microsoft Teams.
The Next Microsoft Ignite is March 2021
Finally, Microsoft announced when the next Microsoft Ignite will be. As we discussed on the Practical 365 podcast in August, Ignite became a two-part even this year. The next Ignite will be in March 2021:
That’s all from myself and Paul for this year’s Microsoft Ignite, but do tune in next week for the Practical 365 Podcast!
It’s also your last chance to enter Quadrotech’s big tech giveaway, it closes at Midnight PDT tonight! There is a Surface Go 2 up for grabs, so don’t forget to check it out.
Steve is a Microsoft MVP for Office Servers and Services. He enjoys getting hands-on, solving some of the more complex problems associated with migrating to the cloud or to newer versions of Exchange Server.