First up on the show, in this week’s news, Teams is of course heavy with new features.
Whilst it didn’t make the show, Microsoft noted that Teams Connect Shared Channels will arrive in public preview late March (via the message center post MC334274). Naturally as you might expect, we’ve got a deep dive on the way and when more information is announced, we’ll be discussing it on the show, too.
Teams Breakout Rooms gets lots of new features
Teams breakout rooms are useful for facilitating training and workshops remotely when you need to split the assembled attendees into smaller groups, then reconvene to discuss what they achieved. It mirrors in person workshops and training where each table might use a whiteboard to collaborate on ideas as smaller groups then present back to the wider room.
The original version was probably best described as an MVP – it met the needs of those who wanted the feature. The updates provide much more flexibility for facilitators, such as being able to pre-assign people, set time limits, allow more than just the organizer to assign rooms and control the breakout rooms – plus lots more. It looks like the feature updates are designed to meet the needs of fairly advanced training sessions and creates a formidable tool for remote workshops.
Use certificate-based authentication with Azure AD – in public preview
It’s not the first time Microsoft have added in more traditional on-premises capabilities to Microsoft 365, such as S/MIME, and it is often driven by needs of larger organizations that have significant investments in hardware or solutions that follow industry standards.
This preview follows initiatives by the US government to improve cyber security and no doubt will enable X509 certificates & keys presented by smart cards to be used natively rather than large organizations invest in new technologies needlessly. Today, you’d need to use AD FS (or a similar federated IDP) to achieve this against Azure AD, but with the preview and subsequent GA release, you’ll be able to (finally) have the option to move entirely to Azure AD sign in. This doesn’t remove or change the need for supporting technologies like Conditional Access, nor is deploying an internal CA (and managing it) a great option for new deployments. However, if you already need this and have invested in hardware readers and smart cards, it will make a massive difference.
Azure AD Connect will receive a 12-month lifecycle support policy
Paul picked up in the message center news that you’ll need to plan for – thankfully though, you’ve some time to prepare. From March 2023, new versions of Azure AD Connect will only be supported for a year. For smaller companies, this is a good reason to consider automatically upgrading Azure AD Connect, but some larger organizations will need to plan ahead to make sure they are able to regularly upgrade. With a move to Azure AD Connect v2 on the horizon before August this year, it will be a good opportunity to ensure you can regularly update Azure AD Connect in a timely fashion.
Tom Morgan, Microsoft MVP is this week’s guest
On the show this week, we are joined by Microsoft MVP Tom Morgan, talking Teams Development
We speak to Tom hot on the heels of the release of his new book, which is aimed at everyone who works with Teams – especially IT professionals.
We ask Tom:
- What should IT pros learn about Teams development, and where could that take them?
- Does learning to code make you a developer?
- Is it hard to move from PowerShell coding against, say, the Graph API to something different?
- Where’s best to start and how do you find mini projects to get inspiration?
Message Center and Roadmap
Changes are coming to message center email notifications
Microsoft will be changing message center notifications to become opt-on, starting April 2022. By default admins won’t receive these messages, unless they’ve customized their notifications. This won’t be a hard cut-off, as message center readers and other admins will receive the emails for a four-wheel period to begin with, and then have the option to opt-in. That sounds like a good compromise, so that folks don’t forget that the messages exist. However, if you are signing in with a global admin, that’s not good practice – so consider using this opportunity to change your admin status and assign yourself the reader role instead.
On the Microsoft 365 roadmap we’ve elected to highlight several interesting new developments you’ll appreciate.
A long awaited ability to use headsets with Teams, without a dongle arrives in March. PC users who have limited USB ports often would like the ability to use Teams headsets without a dongle and certain headsets and speaker phonss will be supported for call control and Bluetooth audio.
This doesn’t mean users can start connecting Air Pods or Surface Headphones just yet – it’s likely these will be newer Teams headsets that are already certified with a dongle – and have a Teams button on.
Hints of Teams V2.0 might be hidden in a couple of controversial roadmap update.
Later this year, Outlook on desktop will get the ability for Teams apps to be added and ran inside the Outlook client itself. As Outlook received Webview2 and has components built on that functionality, it’s likely that this method will be used to embed Teams apps, rather than an Electron engine like Teams V1.0. a GA date of December 2022 hints this is some time away – and could indicate that Microsoft feel the Webview2 version of Teams might be ready for prime-time by then.
The office portal on the web and desktop app will get this ability sooner, with a preview set for March 2022.
Whether people will appreciate this is a different matter – it’s a fantastic idea and will mean apps built for Teams can be deployed in many places, and those who prefer Outlook, for example, can utilise Teams apps natively. However, it could be argued that it dilutes the Teams experience somewhat. It’ll be worth seeing how apps look and feel before making any judgements though.
We’ll be back in two weeks time with episode 38, so join us then.