On The Show This Week
We review the TEC European Roadshow and round up useful security tips for your AD, Azure AD, and Microsoft 365 environment from London, Paris, & Frankfurt. Has Microsoft added in-product, user-facing adverts into SharePoint Online? Surely not!
Microsoft Teams gets a new feature hotly anticipated by Paul that has the potential to make meetings run more smoothly. We discuss how it works and what it needs so that it’s really useful for employees.
Intune gets a new security-related feature on the roadmap worth knowing about that will help manage local admin passwords. Yep – LAPS management is on its way to Intune.
And, of course – an episode of the podcast wouldn’t be complete without an Artificial Intelligence announcement from Microsoft. Copilot is announced for Viva – we discuss whether this enhances the Viva brand or not; and does this make getting full value from Microsoft 365 easier or not.
Did anyone ask for in-product ads in SharePoint Online?
When we learned about this via Tony Redmond, in his recent Office 365 for IT Pros blog post, we had to investigate further and discuss on the show. The in-product adverts are for the independent pay-to-attend Microsoft 365 Conference in Las Vegas next week. To be clear, this will be a great conference, and if you read Practical 365, then you will find the conference content useful, and Microsoft will be presenting many useful sessions.
We’d love to hear Microsoft’s take on this – and if this is a sign of things to come. In the meantime, we’ll assume it was a misjudgment and advise you don’t get too annoyed by this, and let Microsoft know whether or not this was appreciated. If you did find this useful and want to provide a different perspective – please let us know in the comments.
Collaborative Meeting Notes
We all know meetings can be bad. Meetings without agendas. Pre-meetings about meetings to set an agenda for a meeting. Meetings that are a waste of time because there was no agenda, no clear purpose for the meeting and no actions were recorded for follow-up. Or meetings where people were taking notes – but you can’t find them afterward. I’m sure you can add your own examples too.
This new feature is a Microsoft Loop component that is connected to the meeting, allowing meeting attendees to edit the agenda, meeting notes, and action items. While there will be some nuances, such as the permissions model for who can edit what – the concept itself is fantastic.
Imagine the following before and after scenario:
In today’s world, the meeting invite is sent out, and if there isn’t an agenda – you might have to have another meeting first with the organizer and a few others to work through the agenda items and goals so that the organizer can update the original invite with the final agenda. During the meeting, folks take their own notes – or maybe, if you are lucky, use a shared OneNote. Then each person’s assigned actions are left to decide upon their own way to manage their actions and update everyone. Then someone needs to go around and track people’s progress and remind them to complete their actions; and possibly have a series of follow-up meetings to get updates on where everyone has got to with their tasks. Even with a successful result, several hours of extra time ends up being spent in the worst way: meetings about meetings.
With this new feature, the same scenario has the potential for improvement. Drop in your agenda items into the meeting invite you’ve received via Teams, and everyone sees the updated agenda; rather than drop items into the chat, add notes as the meeting progresses. As you wrap up, either Teams Premium will collect the action items – or someone will add the assigned actions to the meeting notes. The actions and assignees automatically sync to To-Do and Planner (and therefore Tasks in Teams) so they can be tracked using the normal Microsoft 365 toolset. A few hours per meeting are saved, and while you could create a bespoke way of accomplishing this, this new feature embeds it into the normal meeting experience, so it’s clear that it’s the right way.
We do hope that Microsoft gives some hints to folk – much like the reminder feature in Outlook we mention below – so that people discover the feature and use it. It would be disappointing for it to be ignored by users in the same way that the FindTime meeting scheduler is, to most folk, a hidden gem that they don’t know exists. Lots of potentials, but we stay cautious until we get some real-world experience with it.
Copilot assistance in Microsoft Viva Topics, Learning, Engage & Goals
Microsoft certainly likes to brand sub-features in products under particular sub-brands – Purview, Defender, Syntex, and of course, Viva and Copilot. New for Viva comes to the “sub-sub-feature” – Copilot in Microsoft Viva. This Copilot, built on Microsoft 365 Copilot, will provide functionality in Viva Topics, Learning, Engage, Answers, and Goals.
Somewhat strangely, this new announcement hasn’t (yet) appeared to brand the Copilot-style features in Viva Sales under the same banner, which would have seemed logical. The newly announced functionality includes using the ChatGPT-style functionality to make it faster to draft Viva Engage announcements, leverage existing content in your tenant to populate OKR information in Viva Goals, provides a chatbot (or as Microsoft say – conversational) interface to Viva Topics, and somewhat reminiscent of the original Yammer functionality proposed when Viva was first announced, will improve upon the concierge-style functionality for asking questions in Viva Engage and surfacing the right experts and content from Viva Topics.
It is natural to have a few concerns though; if Copilot in Microsoft Viva requires additional licensing on top of Microsoft 365 Copilot and Microsoft Viva add-ons, and also requires additional time and effort to configure and get right, and isn’t available when Microsoft 365 Copilot reaches GA (General Availability), then it will make it harder for the business to understand the full value of Microsoft 365 Copilot.
If doing the work to implement Viva – such as modernizing SharePoint site collections so you use Viva Topics – results in being able to leverage these benefits with little to no extra effort, then this is likely to be a big win for you if you implement Copilot and Viva in your Microsoft 365 environment. The benefits will be clearer to describe up-front and will allow a step-change in productivity to be seen and measured.
Windows LAPS management comes to Microsoft Intune
In recent episodes, we’ve seen Microsoft add useful functionality to Intune, such as temporary privilege escalation, that helps IT teams avoid a need for third-party solutions or scripting to fully adopt Azure AD-joined machines managed by Intune (rather than Hybrid Azure AD-joined machines co-managed, for example).
Windows LAPS is the Local Administrator Password Solution that you should be using, or at least using an equivalent for, if you have a need for local admin accounts on user PCs or servers. Simply put. this will be available for management via Intune, and supports AD-joined machines and Azure AD-joined machines. As a native cloud-based solution fully configurable via the Intune interface, you will be able to create a LAPS profile as part of your Intune configuration for deployment to managed machines.
It goes without saying that feature additions like this are why you must keep up to date with the evergreen nature of Microsoft 365 and look at new features, see if they meet an emerging need or replace a legacy solution – and then plan to implement them.
Public Preview: Authenticator Lite (in Outlook)
We’ve mentioned this in previous episodes, but it’s so good that it’s worth mentioning again in case you missed it. If you’ve held off implementing MFA or relied on SMS messages due to the need to roll out the Authenticator app, and have many users who do use Outlook mobile, then this is great news. Once this reaches GA, you will have no reason not to implement MFA for users who have Outlook mobile installed, so you should begin testing this now.
TEC European Roadshow 2023 – London, Paris, and Madrid
I thoroughly enjoyed TEC Europe last week, and spoke about Azure AD and Microsoft 365 to eager audiences in three cities in three countries. It was a well-organized week and a pleasure to spend time with everyone involved, including those who attended, sponsors at Quest, the Practical 365 team, and fellow speakers, including Microsoft staffers, MVPs, and Microsoft Regional Directors.
As there was so much useful content on each day, I would be doing the speakers a disservice by attempting to summarise everything, so I’ll keep it to a few key points that stuck in my mind after watching the sessions delivered in each city.
The resounding message was: The primary target is your Active Directory. Protect it; manage it; monitor it; implement the basics for security to help prevent the worst from happening and assume a breach.
As you might expect, Tony Redmond’s session had practical advice you can take away and should plan to implement. A similar TEC talk version of Tony Redmond’s session is available on demand.
The full conference – TEC 2023 Atlanta – will be back later in the year and should be on your list of conferences to consider; the Roadshow was packed with useful content and underpins why conferences that leave the marketing fluff to one side and focus on real, practical advice from experts provide so much value.
Finally: Top on the Microsoft Roadmap
An interesting new feature has already appeared for Paul Robichaux – Outlook will automatically surface emails to the top of your inbox (similar to the top results in search) when it is detected that a reply is still needed. This reaches GA in May.
On the show, we ponder if Microsoft 365 Copilot would provide massive value by only surfacing the emails you actually want to reply to rather than those that you didn’t care about – such as the occasional personal-looking marketing emails written in a conversational tone.
In Teams, Collaborative Stageview will arrive – which will allow a pop-out window allowing users to work together on content and chat side-by-side within Teams. This arrives in May, and if we find out more information about this – such as where it links into similar meeting-based app functionality, we’ll let you know.
We’ll be back in a few weeks’ time – with several big announcements in Microsoft 365 expected over the next week, so be sure to tune in for what promises to be an exciting show.