Exchange Online Disables New Inbound Connectors

Just set up a new tenant and planning to implement Hybrid, or have a good reason to set up Inbound Connectors, perhaps as part of a tenant carve-out or similar migration? You’ll need to raise a support ticket to have these enabled, as a recent change to Exchange Online disables these by default. On the show, we discuss that this is likely to mitigate against spammers (and similar) who could set up a trial tenant, then use an on-premises connector to relay email out from Microsoft 365’s trusted IP ranges.

Read more on Microsoft’s FAQ and on Tony Redmond’s blog

Update on the Exchange Server Antivirus Exclusions

In what seems like a long overdue update, Microsoft updated the recommended exclusions for virus scanners. Naturally, you are probably running AV on the OS of your Exchange Servers so you’ll need to apply these changes, which allow for more directories to be scanned and thus better protect your Exchange Servers.

Read more on the Exchange Team Blog

Microsoft Platform Migration Planning and Consolidation

Simplify migration planning, overcome migration challenges, and finish projects faster while minimizing the costs, risks and disruptions to users.

Syntex: Pay-as-you-go Model

Next week, Microsoft Syntex’s PAYG (Pay as you go) model will be generally available, beginning March 7th, 2023. This PAYG model allows you to use the document processing capabilities of Syntex, billed via your Azure subscription. This has a per-document list price of $0.10 per unstructured document and $0.01 for a pre-built document. As this excludes costs for training the models, you can effectively start using Syntex without additional cost and then just pay depending on how successful your project is. However, right now – if you already have started using Syntex and assigned user licenses on the current model, you can’t switch across.

Read more on the Microsoft Syntex Blog

Viva Sales – What does the OpenAI-powered experience look like?

On the last show, we briefly discussed the previously announced Viva Sales add-in for using a GPT model in OpenAI to create replies to customer emails. Of course, it’s only human to be a little concerned by this as it’s somewhat reminiscent of templated replies generated by software that often looks false.

On the Viva blog (below), Microsoft demonstrates how Viva Sales custom GPT model examines the customer ask, and pulls relevant customer information. It looks good and provides an opportunity for customization – like an extremely clever auto-complete, if you will.

But – if you were dealing with your account manager and they go from their natural style – perhaps short and to the point, with occasional typos or friendly interactions – to an AI-generated set of replies, would you feel valued? Or would timely replies that covered all the points make the experience better? That’s the question we had – and fellow IT pros ask in the comment on the Microsoft blog. Let us know your thoughts on this and if you plan to roll it out in the future.

Viva Sales AI functionality and more on the Microsoft Viva Blog

On the Microsoft 365 Roadmap

Channels 2.0 in Teams is on the way this April

The new channels experience in Teams, with conversations showing in a reversed order – top to bottom – rolls out next month. This provides updated compose boxes, and finally, we’ll see the additional information panels about a Team or channel when you access it.

Non-Preview Users Get a Preview Button in Outlook for Windows

It feels somewhat strange to get a preview toggle in a non-preview version of Outlook, and for Microsoft to have a “general availability” date for a toggle in a client for a preview. But it is happening, and users of Outlook for Windows “with a Microsoft 365 subscription” (so we’d assume monthly channel users) will see the toggle to turn on and off the “new Outlook.” Prepare for the odd support call from users who toggle the switch and then lose a few features. Coming next month, April 2023.

Microsoft Teams gets Green Screen support

Once upon a time, Microsoft was happy for us to throw out the green screens and enjoy background blur & background effects – using the AVX capabilities in CPUs to offload the heavy lifting of automated background replacement without any need for a green screen.

However, time has passed, and now, the ability to use a green screen instead is seen by Microsoft as providing the “best” virtual background effect and “allows Teams to run smoother.” Frankly speaking, background blur isn’t the key thing in Teams that consumes resources, but for those with a green screen – this might be appreciated.

You can roll down your green screen, and transport save a few CPU cycles in Teams this April.

New Teams feature to surface relevant apps to users – “Zero-touch app install”

Curating your allowed and blocked Teams apps is a difficult job in itself, and then curating the pinned and installed app setup policies for Teams users, and choosing relevant apps per business unit, role, persona, or department is even more difficult.

So, it might be welcome news to see a new feature where, if enabled by you, the Microsoft 365 admin, Teams will automatically install and surface relevant apps for users based upon “intelligent signals,” picking apps that are “highly relevant to their needs.”

While there might be some work to ensure only appropriate apps are available, it could be very useful once enabled and is certainly worth keeping an eye on once more information is available. This reaches general availability this May.

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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