Microsoft 365 Updates
Staying on top of Microsoft’s 365 updates can be challenging for the everyday user, so that’s why we’ve decided to use our Gold standard knowledge to try and help you stay ahead of the game. Read on for our summarised Microsoft 2020 announcements, updates and features.
As you may have read in one of our recent blogs, January 14th marked Microsoft’s end of life support for Windows 7. Microsoft are strongly urging users to transition to Windows 10 as soon as they can, mainly due to the ever-evolving cyber security landscape, which as we know, is constantly posing higher risks to outdated technology. However, it’s not immediately all doom and gloom – if you haven’t had a chance to migrate yet, don’t panic! Microsoft have taken measures to ensure that there are ways to stay protected during the transition with Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU). Additionally, Microsoft will continue to deliver security updates for Office 365 ProPlus until January 2023, making the transition as easy as possible for those who might need extra time to transition.
The search engine for business has arrived, and it comes in the form of the new Microsoft Edge. So firstly, what’s been updated? Most importantly, they’ve increased security significantly through Conditional Access. This essentially focuses on not only who can access resources, but how it is accessed. For businesses, this means that cloud resources will be protected by ensuring that the identity accessing the resource matches the Microsoft Edge profile signed in. In an additional security measure, Application Guard isolates untrusted sites, resulting in enterprises safeguarding their network and employees browsing the internet with safety and ease!
In addition to the security updates, browsing has been made simpler with Internet Explorer mode which now allows you to open legacy sites and new sites within one window. This means that sites that can usually only be opened in Internet Explorer can now be opened in Microsoft Edge resulting in an effortless browsing experience for businesses! As this new browser is undoubtedly a step forward for faster, more efficient working, Microsoft don’t want people missing out because they struggle to transition. That’s why in February, Microsoft introduced FastTrack Support.
Fast Track Support gives you access to Microsoft specialists who are now available to help customers implement Microsoft Cloud Solutions. Not exclusive to Microsoft Edge, FastTrack can also assist anyone with moving confidently to the cloud, helping those with subscriptions to Microsoft 365, Azure or Dynamics 365. In addition to this, the expansion of Microsoft Search has created the possibility for custom search result pages connected to SharePoint. You can now control the layout and design of search results to assist every individual need.
In yet another way to enhance user experience, Microsoft have also introduced the Office ‘What’s New’ Management feature. This tool showcases a list of new features being released for that application, usually including a video or picture demonstration in order to help you learn how to use them! Not only this, but you now have control over which features are shown to end users in the Help app, which means you can now hide or show the What’s New content for each feature.
Office 365 app
Since 19th February 2020, the Office mobile app is has been available worldwide for all Android and iOS users – it’s been designed to increase productivity on your mobile device allowing you to work easily on the go. It achieves this by combining Word, Excel and PowerPoint into one simple app, which ultimately means there are now fewer apps to download so it won’t clog up your valuable device storage! The app also makes common tasks simpler by using Lens technology to convert images, scan PDFs and transfer files – all from the convenience of your mobile. And this is just the beginning – more exciting, new features have been promised in the upcoming months, so keep your eyes peeled!
As we know, Teams is always evolving, and one of the first updates this year has been developed to empower Firstline Workers. “With what?” We hear you ask… This time it’s a Walkie Talkie (push to talk) feature that allows clear, immediate and protected conversations over the cloud, transforming any smart device into a walkie-talkie. Apart from being a secure way to transmit information, this means there will be a reduction in the number of devices employees need to carry around, whilst simultaneously lowering IT costs!
In addition to this, they’ve also introduced a new SMS sign-in feature, which allows the user to sign into their Azure Active Dictionary account using a one-time code, sent directly to their phone, lessening the need to remember usernames and passwords – ideal! Following this, the Shared Device Sign Out tool also allows the user to log out of all their Microsoft 365 applications and browser sessions with one click.
From a Management perspective, Microsoft Teams has also introduced a ‘Delegated User Management’ feature; this addition allows Management to give their delegated employee access to use their phone numbers for SMS sign-ins and approve password resets via a single, customised portal – essentially reducing the obligation of identity management on IT. The ‘Off Shift Access Controls’ in Teams, also helps to ensure that employees are not involuntarily working outside their hours, by limiting employee access to the app on their personal device.
By introducing these features, Microsoft have given those, who are usually based outside of the office (and with traditionally outdated technology) new ways to adopt modern ways of working!
But that’s not all for teams, in February they introduced further collaborative capabilities and integrated Visio – much like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Visio files will now work within Teams, enabling you to make simple changes to your diagrams without leaving the Teams app. You also have the option to edit diagrams in Visio Online or in Visio itself for more robust editing features. In true Team’s style, users can also work together on diagrams through in-app conversations to provide feedback in real time. They even see all the latest changes to these documents the moment they refresh the diagram – Working together has never been easier!
There are also some exciting updates for the Yammer app, as new files uploaded through Yammer will now be stored in SharePoint, meaning users can use the SharePoint document library for their Yammer communities. Furthermore, Native Mode has also recently been launched for new Yammer tenants, meaning all groups will be connected and have their files uploaded to SharePoint. Yammer is now closer than ever to the rest of Office 365 as all of your Yammer groups are connected to an Office 365 group. Don’t worry if you’re an existing tenant though – you won’t be forgotten about as files will be automatically moved to SharePoint as part of the migration to Native Mode!
There are also four new updates to OneNote for Android, developed to create a more individual experience for the user. How do they do this? Well, you can now change your viewing preference with Dark Mode, switching your background from light to dark (great for those who find their eyes get strained staring at a screen all day!). Your notes have also never been able to be more personalised with the help of Modern Inking Experience and Re-order Sections and Pages, allowing you to organise your content in the way that works for you. The refresh of the Inking experience means that you can continue to choose between pens, brushes or highlighters, but now with bright new colours and the Lasso tool to resize and re-position! Plus, there’s the easy refresh tool which allows you to refresh your OneNote page with just a swipe of your finger. For those who love a good list – this is the ultimate app!
Finally, we can’t forget about the significant step in cloud computing occurring globally. 2019 saw Microsoft Office 365 become available for organisations from the new Cloud datacentre regions in Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and South Africa. This expansion has continued into 2020 as Microsoft Office 365 and Dynamics 365 become available from a new German datacentre – the first one launched by Microsoft in 2020! These new datacentres address the ever-evolving needs of customers so that their business can expand faster than ever with cloud services – enabling modern working and increased security. Microsoft plan to continue the development of these datacentres and expand their global contributions by delivering these to Norway later this year, continuing the expansion of the cloud worldwide and enabling companies of any size to reap the benefits!
A significant amount of developments for 2020 so far and hopefully a helpful summary for you to keep up with the latest key updates! If you have any questions or would like further advice on the Microsoft 365 stack, then please get in touch with one of our Microsoft experts here.