In a bumper episode with the most important Microsoft 365 news we’re joined by not one, but two guests – Amesh Mansukhani, Office Deployment Insiders lead at Microsoft – who is talking about the way Microsoft are integrating and improving capabilities for managing Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (or Office), and Practical 365’s Mike Weaver to chat about the latest and greatest in tenant migrations – and gives some advice on what to and what not to do.

Microsoft Teams usage explodes to 145 million daily active users

Whilst Microsoft 365 services like Exchange Online have more users – Teams exponential growth – especially the speed of that growth – has eclipsed all others in how far it has come so quickly. Looking back just over a year to March 2020, Microsoft Teams had hit around 32 million daily active users – which at the time represented a big achievement compared to 13 million the previous year. Roughly speaking that equates to a rate of growth approaching around 12 million new active Teams users every single month – and the last check-in (in Microsoft’s earnings update in October) shows that the rate isn’t slowing down and appears fairly constant.

It will be interesting to see deeper statistics on wider service usage to understand what type of Teams usage this represents though. Meeting and calling minutes alone could serve to undermine Microsoft’s offering as people become tired of back-to-back meetings; whereas seeing SharePoint based file collaboration, Channel Conversations, Microsoft 365 Group creation and usage numbers and usage of apps like Yammer and Tasks in Teams will show Microsoft are cementing good usage behaviours in the product that translate to Hybrid work.

Send as a proxy address finally arrives in Exchange Online

With surprisingly little fanfare, a feature people have been asking for for many years arrives inside Microsoft 365 – the ability to change the email address you send as to one of your aliases. Many organizations do need employees to send out as a different identity – especially if they have multiple brands, and as Tony Redmond mentions in his article, it also has a use-case within scenarios like mergers and acquisitions (though, less so in divestitures).

The feature itself is straightforward to switch on and will be available in Outlook clients now.

Read more in Tony’s article, New Exchange Online Feature Supports Sending Email from Proxy Addresses

Viva Learning’s Public Preview arrived as promised – but wasn’t around for long

One of the most hotly anticipated features in Microsoft Viva is Viva Learning, which allows you to curate internal and third-party employee learning materials and courseware, assign objectives to and track staff’s progress. Enrolling into the Public Preview wasn’t, it turns out, quite as simple as switching on the feature in the Microsoft 365 admin portal; instead it was necessary to sign up to the public preview programme for on-boarding.

Microsoft perhaps didn’t quite anticipate how popular the preview would be (with 145 million daily users now, perhaps they should have!) and have temporarily closed down the ability to sign up. Of course, the nature of the cloud is that you don’t have to deploy the service yourself – but Microsoft do often need to deploy services in Azure as everything tends to require compute and storage to run.

You can read more about the Public Preview here, and if you want to join the programme, there’s a link to sign up for updates as to when it will be available again: Announcing Viva Learning public preview

Admin controls arrive to make everyone’s meetings shorter

You may have see the Outlook option to end meetings early, with settings that when enabled can automatically schedule what would be 30 minute meetings at 25 minutes, and 60 minute meetings for 50 minutes. New controls arrive in Exchange Online to enforce this as the default for users from the service.

Before you do enable this for your users – it’s worth asking the question “will this actually help or hinder” though. At the moment, Outlook does remind people not to book back-to-back meetings, and putting this place might actually mean more back to back meetings for some people.

From using the feature enabled on a per-user basis, one thing I’ve found is that by making a 30 minute meeting 25 minutes long, then it’s less likely for the meeting to run over to 35 minutes – but it seldom gives any breathing room between meetings. And often people need more time to think through and plan actions after a meeting – and whilst features arriving in Teams can help with that, having the mental space to digest everything that’s just been said isn’t something technology can automate.

Therefore a better approach could be to consider business change initiatives to change the underlying behaviours for booking back-to-back meetings and encouraging people to book post-meeting time into their calendars, rather than cram their days with back to back meetings with 5 minute break points to grab a coffee.

Amesh Mansukhani joins us to discuss the Microsoft 365 Apps Admin Center and Office Updates

You might know this as the Office Apps Admin Center but, naturally it has been renamed to Microsoft 365 along with the Office 365 ProPlus name change to Microsoft 365 Apps for Enterprise (and respective changes for Business SKUs). Amesh is the Office Deployment Insiders lead at Microsoft and joins us to not only talk about the Apps Admin Center, but we also discuss the quality and reliability of the Office products and why you don’t want to be running on the semi-annual builds. We get to understand who the apps admin center was built for – smaller business, mid size or enterprise – and what the benefit of yet another portal is within Microsoft 365. And with the move to self-updating applications, do enterprises still want more control and visibility of application health?

Highlights from the Microsoft 365 Roadmap and Message Center

Next up on the show, we discuss a few highlights from both the Microsoft 365 Roadmap and the Message Center

  • Microsoft Teams’ Background Noise Removal feature is now available for Mac users 
  • Teams Channels gets a fix for a long standing problem – renaming a channel will soon also rename the SharePoint folder name, coming in May 
  • Teams Public Preview will have the ability for the enablement state to follow the Office Preview State. This will be configured in the TAC. Coming in May. 
  • SharePoint Migration Manager will get the ability to migrate more systems, with Google migrations coming April (?), Dropbox in May, and Egnyte in June 
  • And the new Exchange Admin Center reaches GA – though hasn’t switched to the default yet, but will very shortly

Mike Weaver joins us to discuss Microsoft 365 tenant migrations

Practical 365 author, Product Manager at Quest and specialist in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures (hence the nickname MAD Mike) joins us for a chat about the current state of play for Microsoft 365 tenant migrations. As a hot topic there’s a lot of questions many people have.

On the show we chat about whether Microsoft have made things easier or harder over the last year, what the differences between the current and beta Teams migration API are, and I ask Mike what is the biggest thing missing from Microsoft’s APIs that would make tenant migrations easier.

We then discussed what services remain top of mind for Mike when it comes to emerging requirements in tenant migrations – with more services being adopted or launched, what can you migrate? If you know a tenant migration is on the way, what should you do!? We discuss.

Mike and Rich Dean will be hosting a deeper chat next week in an online TEC Talk on May 6. It’s definitely not one to be missed.

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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