Microsoft / Office 365 News

Microsoft Ignite Conference goes Digital!

Surely one of the biggest discussions this week is the Microsoft announcement that Ignite Conference will not come to New Orleans, but will launched as a “digital event experience” this September.

The official statement can be found on the Ignite web page here.

“In light of global health concerns due to COVID-19, we will deliver our annual Microsoft Ignite conference as a digital experience, in lieu of an in-person event”

Currently there is no word about how Microsoft plans to host this event, if it will be Microsoft Teams (where they made positive experiences with MVP Global Summit) or something other.

Home versions of Office 365 will be renamed to Microsoft 365

Just when we possibly didn’t want more change, Microsoft has decided to “simplify” it’s Office 365 and Microsoft 365 offerings. There are also new Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions. Microsoft 365 Personal is for one person and Microsoft 365 Family can be used by up to six people.

Home versions of Office 365 will be renamed and receives new features, which are pretty good. The Microsoft 365 Personal and Family subscriptions will now include AI-based improvements from the business and enterprise versions of the suite, including PowerPoint Presenter Coach & Design Ideas, Microsoft Editor and a new Money management feature in Excel for managing household finances.

A new version of Teams for use at home is also coming, with the intention of making it easy to use Teams to organize your social life and clubs. How this will fit in alongside Facebook and other home tools is yet to be seen. 

And finally, Microsoft are extending the family management tools to extend to mobile devices as well as Windows 10 PCs. For those that use Google Family to manage their children’s Android screen time this will be familiar.

Key features:

  • Office: Desktop apps for Windows 10 and MacOS
  • Outlook: 50 GB mailbox space
  • OneDrive: 1 TB per person / 6 TB per Familiy plan
  • Skype: 60 minutes of free landline an mobile phone calling

And… Business Versions will be renamed to Microsoft 365 too (read on though, it’s not that simple..)

In the business and enterprise though, things are a little more confusing. Microsoft 365 was originally a “rebrand” of the Secure Productive Enterprise product – yet another confusing product name. Microsoft 365 was a bundle that included Windows 10, Office 365 and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Office 365 has been firmly rooted in the “applications” component of Microsoft 365 providing the productivity tooling, with a pretty clear delineation. This applied even in the lower-end “business” versions, with Microsoft 365 Business adding in device management and security tools.

The latest change mixes this up in a couple of ways. The lower end (sub 300 users) “business” products are all re-branded as Microsoft 365, but gain no new features. Office 365 Business Essentials and Business Premium become Microsoft 365 Business Basic and Standard, and are just “Office 365” tools. Microsoft 365 Business becomes Microsoft 365 Business Premium and includes the add on Windows, device management and security tools.

The second change is Microsoft Office itself, which when included in the Business and Enterprise suites changes from “Office 365 Business” and “Office 365 Pro Plus” to “Microsoft 365 Apps”. This will take effect with version 2004 onwards released on the 21st of April.

If you followed that so far, then well done. One thing that doesn’t change is that Office 365 Enterprise plans will still keep their names – like Office 365 E3 and E5 – even though the Office Suite’s name within changes its name.

You can read more about the changes here.

In similar news, Microsoft launch new First line worker offerings and rename existing ones…

Microsoft have changed and released new Microsoft 365 Firstline worker offerings. Microsoft 365 F1 is renamed to Microsoft 365 F3 and retains all of its existing capabilities across Windows, Office 365 and EMS. A new, cut-down Microsoft 365 F1 is added to the stable and includes Microsoft Teams, Yammer, SharePoint Intune, Azure AD P1, AIP, Planner and Stream viewing – but no Exchange mailbox, OneDrive, Forms, Windows or Power Platform access. Microsoft Teams gets full audio video capabilities including meeting scheduling.

Find out more here.

Azure AD Premium P1 is coming to Microsoft 365 Business Premium

We thought this has already been announced but perhaps not – Microsoft have announced that instead of a “cut down” version of Azure AD Premium features in Microsoft 365 Business (soon to be known as Business Premium), the full feature set will be included.

Find out more here.

Power Apps 2020 Wave of updates are out now

A long list of feature updates came out last night for Power Apps. It’s worth reading the blog post for full details as there’s lots of pictures showing off the functionality – but in summary

  • PowerApps can use the context of the Team they are in
  • PowerApps will be available from within the mobile app, as well as desktop
  • There’s improved support within CDS (Common Data Service) for large files and images, for use in Canvas Power Apps
  • The Power Apps mobile app has access to all your apps (well, maybe not SharePoint form Power Apps) – with better functionality as well for both canvas and model-driven apps
  • Better debugging tools
  • And, updates to the unified interface

Find out more here.

Attendee limits temporarily lifted from 10,000 to 100,000 for Live Events in Microsoft Teams

As simple as it sounds, Live Events have a temporary increase to 100,000 attendees until July. Find out more in the tech community doc here.

New on the Roadmap

  • Outlook on the web – new editor
    • Outlook will get new editing capabilities powered by Microsoft 365.
    • Planned: April 2020
  • Outlook for iOS: week numbers
    • The week numbers will be available in 3 day, 7 day (landscape) and Monthly views of your Calendar.
    • Planned: April 2020
  • Microsoft Teams – background effects in Teams meetings
    • In Microsoft Teams you can currently “blur” your background, but not change the background to something that you would like.
    • A new feature is coming to Teams client to apply customized backgrounds.
    • However, it will be a list of pre-selected images, you cannot choose your own image.
    • Planned: April 2020
  • Microsoft Search is coming to Windows 10
    • Soon you’ll be able to use the Search box in Windows 10 (you know, that thing you hide) to search Office 365 data
    • Planned for Q4
  • SharePoint Spaces
    • SharePoint spaces is rolling out now – but won’t be in all tenants yet and is hitting targeted tenants first
    • This provides an immersive experience with mixed reality inside SharePoint Online
    • Coming now – March 2020 onwards
  • Co-authoring for Microsoft Forms
    • Perhaps not real-time co-authoring, but in addition to being able to move a Form to an Office 365 group, you’ll be able to add a security group or user to read/write your Microsoft Form
    • Planned for April 2020
  • Microsoft Teams – Increasing team membership limit to 10K
    • Another major change in Microsoft Teams is coming: team membership will be increased from 5.000 to 10.000 members.
    • The roll-out will begin end of April, and be completed end of May 2020.
    • Maybe this is an indication that Microsoft plans to run Ignite with Microsoft Teams, but for the keynote they need to get at least 22.000 people 🙂

Message Center Updates

  • New Authentication method for OneDrive on MacOS
    • OneDrive on MacOS is incorporating new methods for authentication:
      • OneDrive for Mac will respect conditional access for policies
      • Accounts that are signed into Office will be a selectable option in OneDrive when a user adds a new sync account; this allows a user to setup OneDrive without prompting for password and credentials.
      • OneDrive sync client will share credentials with the MacOS Office suite
    • Roll-out will start mid-April and complete mid-May 2020.

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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