It’s been a fun month looking at some new features launching in Office 365, some of which I had no idea were coming! It’s also been a busy month for us publishing new blog posts and running webinars so please do take a look at our site for more details.
A couple of new features were added to Forms, Microsoft’s end-user focused tool for creating surveys, quizzes and polls, this month. The first feature of note is that Forms is now better integrated with Office 365 Groups making it much easier to create and manage forms intended for use within an Office 365 Group/Microsoft Team.
Group forms are accessed via a dedicated section of the Forms homepage which initially shows recently used forms.
Expanding the Recent group forms dropdown then reveals all the groups of which you are a member and flags the number of forms associated with each individual group.
Clicking into a group then reveals all the forms associated with that group as well as providing the ability to create new forms and quizzes.
Overall, Group forms benefit from being able to be maintained by group members and allowing everyone in the group to view the results received. You can have up to 200 forms per Office 365 group.
And don’t forget, as well as being able to distribute the link to the form, there is also the option to host forms in SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
Using the Forms web part to add a form to SharePoint
Adding a Form to Microsoft Teams
Another small but welcome change is that forms can now be configured to cater for scenarios where a form should only be available to authenticated users and allow them to submit their response both anonymously as well as enforcing a one-response-per-person rule. Previously, these settings were linked thus making this scenario impossible.
Administration and Security
There were plenty of changes relating to administration and security in Office 365 this month. Here are some of the highlights.
Microsoft 365 Admin Center introduced
As part of the ongoing shift of emphasis towards Microsoft 365 branding (ICYMI: our Introduction to Microsoft 365 webinar recording is now available), a new experience has begun to roll out to Office 365 tenants. This updated Admin Center is available at https://admin.microsoft.com and serves to consolidate all administration experiences across Microsoft 365, encompassing all the existing components of Office 365 administration plus others from Enterprise Mobility + Security, such as Device Management. The rollout of the new Admin Center is expected to be complete by the end of July.
Message Center Reader role
As Office 365 is an evergreen service, new features and updates occur all the time and keeping up to date is a real challenge (hence this blog!). We encourage organisations to find ways to keep users informed of changes that might affect their day-to-day work and the Message Center in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center is a great place to look to find out what’s changing. Until recently, access to the Message Center required full access to the Admin Center and thus administrative privileges but now there is a new additional admin role called “Message Center reader” which allows nominated users to access the Message Center, view posts and share relevant news via email. This is a great way to allow anyone working in change management and adoption of Office 365 for an organisation to keep up-to-date without having to give them administrative controls of the tenant.
Security and Compliance Center changes
Several additions have been made recently to the Security and Compliance Center (SCC), the control hub for protecting data and managing compliance in Office 365.
First up are some new reports within SCC that aim to highlight threats to Office 365 data security and provide recommended actions to mitigate the identified risks. The 2 new reports released are as follows:
Threat Protection Status trending report: a single view with drill downs into malicious and phishing emails identified within your organization.
Data Loss Prevention (DLP) incident report: report showing the identification of document or email policy violation events.
Next are some additional system alert policies that have been enabled by default to all tenants and will trigger when users perform activities that match the condition of the alert policies. The conditions for these new alerts are as follows:
Elevation of Exchange admin privilege
Creation of forwarding/redirect rules
Messages have been delayed
Finally, the Label Activity Explorer is a new feature of the Office 365 SCC that enables organisations to gain insight into the usage of labels across the organisation over the last 30 days, such as identifying the top used labels, who applied labels to specific files and when, the current ratio of user-assigned to system-assigned labels, and files that have had labels changed or removed.
The Label Activity Explorer (Source: Microsoft)
With filtering features and the ability to export results, the Label Activity Explorer will help organisations monitor and drive the use of labelling across SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business. Note, the Label Activity Explorer is only available with an Office 365 Enterprise E5 subscription.
Centralized Deployment for Outlook add-ins
While Centralized Deployment for Word, Excel and PowerPoint add-ins has been available via the Office 365 Admin Center for some time, the deployment of Outlook add-ins has required the use of the Exchange Admin Center. Now, for all Office 365 tenants, the centralised deployment of Outlook add-ins is handled in the same manner as other Office add-ins.
Additional GDPR sensitive information types
As part of Microsoft’s on-going commitment to help organisation meet their GDPR obligations, several new sensitive information types have been added to Office 365 to help discover, classify, protect and manage GDPR related personal information. These new data types are:
EU passport number
EU national identification number
EU driver’s license number
EU tax identification number (TIN)
EU social security number (SSN) or equivalent ID
If you would like to know more about GDPR support in Office 365, please read our recent blog article.
Azure Information Protection auto enablement
Microsoft announced changes that will begin on 1st August 2018 to enable features of Azure Information Protection (AIP) for all tenants. This change is being implemented to make it easier for organisations to make use of new features of Office Message Encryption (OME) which in turn rely on AIP.
While OME is offered as part of many Office 365 subscriptions (e.g. E3/E5) AIP is not, however, licensing AIP is not required to use OME unless the Office 365 subscription does not include OME (e.g. Office 365 F1/E1, Business Essentials/Premium, Exchange Online P1/P2). Note, AIP is offered as a separate product (P1/P2 plans) as well as bundled in both Enterprise Mobility + Security and Microsoft 365 suites, and offers functionality in addition to OME.
Important: AIP is not supported for use with on-premises Active Directory Rights Management Services (AD RMS) meaning that tenant administrators must either explicitly opt-out of the change or migrate to Azure Information Protection before the rollout of the change begins. See this Microsoft Support technote for more information.
SharePoint & OneDrive
Following the SharePoint Conference, some of the new features that were announced have started to roll out. Here is a summary of the key new features coming to Office 365 tenants.
Changes to SharePoint Online & OneDrive sharing
First up is customer branding of sharing emails. This is a feature that we know many of our clients have expected when evaluating external sharing in Office 365 as it adds a sense of identity to the emails received by recipients. Now, the company banner logo, configured within Azure Active Directory Company Branding, will replace the Microsoft logo that currently appears.
In addition to branding the sharing email, if the person sharing the link has an Exchange Online mailbox then the sharing email will be sent from their mailbox meaning that email will not come from firstname.lastname@example.org and replies to that email will be handled more gracefully.
The other change, and one that should be of interest to tenant administrators, is that now when recipients of sharing emails with one-time passcodes validate the passcode and they are an Office 365 user, then their account will be added as a guest account in Azure Active Directory. While this will offer a benefit to those users as they can return to the shared link and authenticate with just their Office 365 credentials, it does mean that tenant administrators will see an increase in the number of guest accounts appearing in Azure AD which may circumvent existing processes in place to manage the creation of guest accounts.
More SharePoint list templates supported in Modern experience
As the modernisation of the SharePoint user interface continues, support has now been added to the following list templates:
Issue Tracking List
Custom List in Datasheet View
The modern UI also now provides support for the “Append Changes to Existing Text” property for multi-line text fields meaning that lists with this field type will not force a fall-back to the SharePoint classic UI.
File Move and Copy replacing Site Content and Structure
Available only in sites that use the SharePoint Server Publishing Infrastructure feature, the Site Content and Structure page is being replaced by the new File Move and Copy feature that we highlighted back in January. This change will be scheduled for September 2018. It will be interesting to see if any additional capabilities are added to the File Move and Copy features to provide feature parity with Site Content and Structure.
Connect to new Office 365 group feature released to users
In our last round up, we highlighted that tenant admins had recently been given tools to provision new Office 365 groups for existing SharePoint team sites using PowerShell. Now, site owners can instigate this process for themselves directly from within the SharePoint interface via a new option in the settings menu.
The site owner is then taken through a guided process of provisioning the new Office 365 group and migrating the existing standard Owners and Members group to the group membership.
Step 1: Review the changes that will be applied to the classic team site
Step 2: Resolve the settings for the Office 365 group to be created
Step 3: Review the proposed group owners & members
Once the process is complete the existing homepage is replaced by a new modern SharePoint team site homepage, including all the new team site functionality such as news, activity and themes.
Microsoft Teams continues to develop at an astonishing pace. Below are just some of the new features introduced this month.
Use existing teams as templates for new teams
This is a great feature that allows users to quickly create a new team using an existing team as its template.
Step 1: On the Create your team screen select Create a team using an existing team as a template
Step 2: Select the team to act as the template
Step 3: Confirm the name and the settings (e.g. Channels, Apps, Members) to be carried over from the existing team
Automate Teams lifecycle management via Microsoft Graph
As Microsoft Teams grows in popularity and adoption across organisations, the need to automate the lifecycle management of teams becomes a priority for many. Microsoft announced that the Microsoft Graph has been updated with support for managing Teams covering many of the core activities.
There are still plenty of disclosed roadmap features that are due to arrive in Office 365 soon. Personally, I am waiting, somewhat impatiently, for many of the updates coming to Communication sites in SharePoint Online such as page metadata, targeting & content approval. We’ll be sure to blog about these features, and others, as soon as they land!
I have played a pivotal role in the development of Intelogy, a leading Microsoft Partner specialising in Office 365, SharePoint & .NET Development, since its formation in 1995. I engage with both business stakeholders and technical professionals to ensure successful delivery of high quality software solutions. I love new technology and continue to set new targets for the development of the company.