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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Expands Skype Together Mode to 1:1 Calls

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With the growing popularity of Microsoft Teams and the focus Microsoft is putting on that service, Skype is becoming something of a forgotten platform. However, at least for now, Microsoft believes Teams and Skype can co-exist and provide differing functionality to users. In fact, Microsoft is now expanding its Together Mode feature on Skype.

With Together mode, Microsoft wants team members and meeting participants to appear as if they are in the same location. It is a small touch, but a nice one for organizations that value a uniform output.

By using AI segmentation, Microsoft Teams can place meeting participants within a shared background. The idea behind this is to make it look more like participants are in the same room together.

The feature originally landed on Teams in July 2020 and later came to Android and Skype users. However, on Skype the feature was limited to large meetings. Microsoft is now expanding the ability, so Together mode now works on 1:1 calls on Skype.

In the announcement by Skype chief Luis Carrasco, Microsoft also debuted a new Scene for the platform. Specifically, a plane scene.

Future of Skype

What will happen with Skype moving forward remains to be seen. For the time being, Skype is not going anywhere, but it is hard to see how it can continue to co-exist with Microsoft Teams in the long term.

This is especially true now that Microsoft Teams is being baked into Windows 11.

On Windows 11 , Microsoft Teams is now directly integrated into the platform. This means Teams users can unmute and mute voice and video calls in the system tray on the Taskbar.

Furthermore, when Teams is running in the background, a “Share this Windows” option is available when hovering over the app icon. This allows users to share an app windows with Teams contacts through the Taskbar.

Tip of the day: By default computer names in Windows 10 tend to be quite plain. By default, they tend to be ‘WIN’ or ‘Desktop’, followed by a string of random letters and numbers. We show you how to change your PC name with Settings, Command Prompt or PowerShell to make it more easily identifiable.

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Microsoft Teams

Teams Chat Becomes Fluid (or Lively)

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First Fluid Component Delivered – More Coming

The Fluid framework is a technology developed by Microsoft (now open source) designed to help developers build better collaborative applications. The big selling point for the Fluid framework is its synchronization capabilities, which allow applications to coordinate updates made by multiple people to the same content and present the information in a coherent manner.

On May 25, Microsoft announced that Fluid components in Teams chat was then in private preview. On June 17, Microsoft followed up by saying that “the expansion of Fluid components for Teams meetings, OneNote, Outlook, and Whiteboard that make it easier to collaborate synchronously and asynchronously across Teams and Office apps.”

Confused by what Fluid is or means in practical terms? Well, soon you’ll get a chance to try the technology out in Teams chat. According to MC270177 (July 14), Microsoft will roll out “Fluid live components in Teams chat” in mid-August (Microsoft 365 roadmap item 82779) and expects to complete deployment by the end of August.

Wide Range of Live Components

The Fluid (or as they’re referred to in Teams, live) components enabled for Teams chats are:

  • Agenda. Build an agenda for a meeting (we’ll see more use of this component when it shows up in Teams meetings).
  • Table. Just like a table in Word.
  • Bulleted list and Numbered list. Work like any other bulleted and numbered list in a Microsoft word processor.
  • Checklist. Write down all the things people need to do. Like a task list, but with no assigned task owners and target dates.
  • Paragraph. Free text component that’s good for capturing ideas and sharing information like web links.
  • Task list. Build a set of tasks or follow-up items and assign tasks and expected completion dates to chat participants.

Don’t expect to paste text from Word or another editor into a live component and have it work perfectly. I could paste graphics from the clipboard into the paragraph component, but when I took formatted text like the content of this article (including embedded figures) and pasted it into the same component, the formatting suffered badly. On the other hand, cells pasted in from Excel worked well (as far as my tests went). My advice is to keep to simple text formatting whenever possible.

Getting Immediate and Concurrent Updates

To add a live component to a chat, create a new message, click the live component icon in the compose menu, and select the type of component to use (Figure 1). You can’t insert a live component into the compose message box when some content is already present  – the message must be perfectly blank before Teams allows you to insert a live component.

The range of live components which can be added to a Teams chat
Figure 1: The range of live components which can be added to a Teams chat

One way of thinking about this is that a live component is a container created in the owner’s OneDrive for Business account. Once you compose the content and send the message, Teams shares the component with others in the chat (Figure 2).

A sharing link allows chat participants access to the live component
Figure 2: A sharing link allows chat participants access to the live component

Once sent, the component is “live.” Any change made to its content is dynamically updated to anyone connected to the container using either the Teams desktop (Windows and MacOS) or mobile client. If you switch from chats to do other work or leave the device for a while, you will need to refresh the content of a live component when you return.

Microsoft’s pitch is that live containers bring content co-authoring to Teams analogous to the way Office documents stored in OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online support co-authoring. As people make updates in the container, a facility like the Autosave feature in Office updates the copy in OneDrive for Business and publishes the updates to clients connected to the container. Anyone involved in the chat can work on the content and others see who’s currently working on the content as they type. Figure 3 shows a bulleted list component being updated. You can see a marker with the initials of the active user to show where they are working. In this case, it’s me (TR).

Editing a live component in a chat using the Teams for iOS mobile client
Figure 3: Editing a live component in a chat using the Teams for iOS mobile client

Microsoft’s belief is that by working together on shared content, people can avoid discussing topics in a long message thread or meetings. For instance, they can collaborate on creating a task list for a project in a single updatable object (the dream of OLE/DDE from 30 years ago) like the task list shown in Figure 4 without entering a to-and-fro discussion of what needs to be done, by whom, and when.

A Live tasks list in a Teams chat
Figure 4: A Live tasks list in a Teams chat

OneDrive Storage

Storage for live components in Teams chats is in OneDrive for Business as .fluid files created in the Microsoft Teams Chat Files folder in the owner’s account. Figure 5 shows a set of .fluid files and the access granted for one file. The sharing link isn’t very exciting because it allows members of the chat to access the component. Later, when more widespread support for live components exists in Office, you should be able to share a component more broadly with more people through more applications.

The files for Teams live components are stored in OneDrive for Business accounts
Figure 5: The files for Teams live components are stored in OneDrive for Business accounts

You can rename the .fluid files if you like but don’t delete them as this causes Teams some distress. An entry for the deleted live component persists in the chat but Teams can’t display it because the file is in the OneDrive recycle bin.

Issues Noted During Testing

Integrating a new technology into an existing platform like Teams is always going to throw up some issues. I noted several areas where I think Microsoft will make improvements or smoothen the implementation in the future, including:

  • No editing aids are available when editing text in components like fluid paragraphs. Teams chats and conversation threads have never had great support for basic facilities like spell checking, never mind the more sophisticated writing assistance found in Word.
  • The translation capabilities available for normal Teams chat messages aren’t available in live components. It’s much more difficult to send text to Microsoft Translator when the text changes all the time.
  • Share to Outlook doesn’t work. At least, Teams sends a message to the Outlook user, but the information which arrives isn’t useful. I suspect that this issue will go away when OWA and Outlook desktop support live components.
  • Data Loss Prevention (DLP) policies for Teams don’t detect violations posted in live components, so you can swear or include whatever other prohibited text you want.
  • Content searches can’t find text contained in live components. This implies that Microsoft Search does not index the content (you can search some metadata like the container name). The lack of indexing means that communication compliance policies don’t work either.
  • Live components appear to only work for chats with tenant users. I couldn’t use these components in chats involving guest users or federated (external) users. Signed in as a guest user in another tenant, Teams offered me the chance to include a live component in a chat and promptly failed when I tried to accept the offer. This was not a surprise as guest users don’t have OneDrive accounts.

These issues underline the newness of live components in Teams and illustrate the work Microsoft must do to support live components more completely across Teams. As noted above, Teams meetings (personal, not channel) are first. Afterwards, it’s likely Microsoft will consider the challenges of introducing live components in channel conversations. Among the issues here are the larger number of potential contributors in a channel thread and the complexities of dealing with private and shared channels (solutions for guest and federated access need to enable these scenarios).

Coming Soon to an Office Application Near You

In the future (soon according to Microsoft), it will be possible to share live containers with other Office applications like Outlook, OneNote, and Whiteboard. Given that a large percentage of email is external, using live components in Outlook (OWA first) will be a harder hill to climb if the sharing mechanism for live components doesn’t accommodate external users seamlessly without any need to mess around with sharing link permissions.

For now, it will be interesting to see how users take to live components in Teams chats and if this new capability stops people plunging into long message threads and interminable meetings. I must confess to having some doubts that live components will break entrenched user habits quickly but am certainly willing to be proven wrong.

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Microsoft Teams

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode

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Microsoft Teams Rooms on Android (MTRoA) – formerly known as Collaboration Bars, are designed to cater for both smaller meeting rooms and for individual users – known as personal mode.

In a meeting room scenario, typically you will pair a Microsoft Teams Room on Android device with a touch panel for the center of the room, and create a meeting room account that people can book.

In personal mode, setup is much simpler. A touch panel becomes optional (and maybe not even desired) and setup and sign-in is near-identical to a Teams Phone or Display; a user signs into the device as their own account and then can join their meetings.

You might want to buy and deploy MTRoA devices to staff that work from home and wish to use a bigger screen for meetings, or have their own office and will benefit from a wall-mounted display. At Microsoft Ignite 2021 (Spring Edition), Microsoft demonstrated their vision for this scenario as part of their Future of Work demo:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 1: Microsoft’s vision for personal collaboration spaces using Microsoft Teams Rooms.

Today, some of the vision hasn’t yet actualized, but the core concepts will arrive as part of the new Front Row view later this year. Due to features such as background effects, live captions and proximity join being available in MTRoA’s Personal Mode today, the experience is extremely good.

In the example below, an MTRoA deployed to a home environment in Personal Mode requires only the power and HDMI cabling to a screen and the device can be placed similar to a sound bar or consumer video device like the Facebook Portal TV:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 2: A Microsoft Teams Room on Android deployed to the home

The benefit of this simple deployment model is that the MTRoA device in Personal Mode is self-deploy for an employee because Android-based Teams devices have been updated for easier self-setup.

We’ll walk through the setup experience and what to expect when the MTRoA is configured and ready to use in Personal Mode.

Setup and Sign-in

If you are buying MTRoA devices for users, then it is worth considering ensuring that before they are shipped the vendor ensures they are on the most current (or nearly current) updates. If your supplier has had the devices sitting in a warehouse for the last twelve months then it is extremely likely that the device will not include up-to-date firmware for Personal Mode, or additional features released in April 2021, such as background effects.

You can see the latest release versions for MTRoA firmware on Microsoft Docs and validate with your supplier that the devices will include these; if you cannot then it is worthwhile considering enrolling the devices first, and then performing updates in the Teams Admin Center, before then signing out of the device and shipping it or installing it in an office for the user.

Upon first boot or after sign-out, the MTRoA device will begin at the sign-in page. However, before attempting sign-in, the first task a user must perform when connecting an MTRoA device is to connect it to a Wireless LAN if it’s not connected via ethernet. To do this, use the MTRoA remote control and select the settings cog:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 3: The first-boot sign-in page on an MTRoA device.

In the setting page, various options such as time zone, Bluetooth device connectivity, camera settings and network settings can be configured. At the end of the list of settings, Wi-Fi connectivity can be configured. This will require the user to enter the default admin password (a PIN) which is typically 0000, then to select and join their Wi-Fi network:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 4: The MTRoA settings page for Wi-Fi connectivity.

If you don’t want the user to continue to be able to configure administrative settings on the device after sign-in, then create a configuration profile in the Teams Admin Center, and assign it to the respective devices. Within the configuration profile a replacement default PIN can be set to prevent further configuration and also to set core settings, such as the timezone on behalf of the user.

After connecting to a network, return to the sign-in page and, after choosing sign-in, the user will be provided the opportunity to either sign-in using their Azure AD credentials, or the option to Sign in from another device. This second option makes it easier for a user to sign in to the MTRoA device because it does not require the user to attempt to use an infra-red remote control and on-screen keyboard to enter their username and password, so we’ll choose that:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 5: Sign-in to the user’s Azure AD account.

After choosing this option a code is displayed on the screen with instructions to visit microsoft.com/devicelogin. This “sign-in with a code” feature is commonly used on services such as Netflix on TV sets to make it easier for a user to complete sign in using their PC or mobile device. In this scenario, the user should visit that URL on a work PC or work mobile device, as this will allow them to leverage their currently signed in credentials for easy login:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 6: “Sign in with a code” on an MTRoA device.

Once login completes, the device will complete registration and arrive at the MTRoA home screen. This includes the user’s calendar appointments for the day, the option to Meet now and call another person, and quick access to relevant settings via the More ellipses:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 7: The MTRoA home screen.

Within the More section, it is worth ensuring that Proximity Join is enabled:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 8: Examining the settings available for quick access in the More section.

This then means that a user can choose either to use the MTRoA remote control and select the meeting from the calendar on screen, but also for ad-hoc meetings and calls, or when joining a meeting from the PC select the MTRoA as a device to use in the meeting:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 9: On the desktop Teams application on PC and Mac, choose Room Audio to select the MTRoA using Proximity Join.

After joining a meeting, settings are available in-meeting for common tasks such as leave, video on/off, mic on/off, meeting attendees, volume and to add participants. Additional options are available under the ellipses such as Start recording, turn on/off live captions, raise hand, turn off incoming video and in larger meetings, Together Mode and Large Gallery view. In particular for Personal Mode, Change Background allows you to enable background blur and select from built-in background effects:

Setup Microsoft Teams Rooms in Personal Mode
Figure 10: Selecting options in-meeting on MTRoA.
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Microsoft Teams

How to Report Teams Channel Storage with Microsoft Graph API and PowerShell

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It’s no secret that Microsoft Teams uses SharePoint Online to store files shared between team members. Each team has a document library in the SharePoint Online site owned by the Microsoft 365 group for the team, and when a new channel is created, a folder for that channel is created within the document library.

By default, the name of the channel folder is the same as the channel. Details can be retrieved easily using Exchange Online or PnP PowerShell. However, things become more complicated when a channel is renamed.

What’s in a name?

Currently, when a channel gets renamed, its folder does not change (but hopefully will soon!) which makes finding the channel folder more difficult. Private channels create another layer of complexity because of their associated SharePoint Online site.

Within large organizations utilizing Teams, reporting on and then migrating this data is extremely difficult. To help map out how Teams uses SharePoint, I’ve created a simple Graph API / PowerShell script to report Teams channels and their SharePoint locations in a CSV file (you can download the script from GitHub here). Each channel reports the following information:

  • Team ID – The Azure AD object ID of the Team / Group
  • Team Name – The name of the Team
  • Channel Name – The name of the Channel
  • Channel Type – Whether the Channel is standard or private
  • SharePoint URL – URL of the Teams Channel storage location, including folder path
  • Storage Used (Bytes) – The current storage size of the folder

In this article I’ll walk you through the steps and show how you can run the report yourself.

Creating an App Registration

Since the script in question uses Graph API, we need an App Registration to Authenticate and Authorize our queries. To set up the registered app, you’ll want to reference this article I previously wrote for another Graph-based script.

Once you’ve done that, you need to grant the Application permissions for this script as shown in Figure 1:

How to Report Teams Channel Storage with Microsoft Graph API and PowerShell
Figure 1: Require Application Permissions

Running the Script

To run the script, you’ll need to download it to your local machine and run it in PowerShell, providing the following parameters:

  • ClientID – The Application (Client) ID of the App Registration
  • TenantID – The Directory (Tenant) ID of your Azure AD Tenancy
  • ClientSecret – A Client Secret Generated for your App Registration
  • CSVPath – The path and name for the output CSV

With the above information, the script can be run using a command as shown below:

How to Report Teams Channel Storage with Microsoft Graph API and PowerShell
Figure 2: Running the Script

If the script is run successfully, there is no output but you could always add your own progress bar for exceptionally large environments.

Review the Output

Once the script is finished, the output file should show a line entry for each Team and each Channel including the associated folder/library location and storage used. This is in CSV format so it’s easy to filter, can sort if required, and can be saved as an Excel Spreadsheet to perform some more advanced analysis.

Where the Channel Name and Type appears as “N/A,” the entry is for the Team rather than a specific channel. Check out the example output in Figure 3 to get an idea of what to expect:

How to Report Teams Channel Storage with Microsoft Graph API and PowerShell
Figure 3: Output File Example

Summary

This script is straightforward and provides information that, while not hidden, can be cumbersome to collate when attempting to utilize other tools.

This information can potentially become invaluable when auditing your cloud storage, Teams usage, or simply preparing for a migration. Having a quick and uncomplicated way to retrieve the information can make life A LOT easier.

If anything happens to be missing from the output, you can customize the script to add it in. As always, make sure before running and test any code in your production environment prior, so you completely understand what it will do.

Source Practical 365

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Microsoft Teams

Understanding The Three Types of Channels in Microsoft Teams

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At the Ignite conference in November 2019, Microsoft announced the availability of private channels for Teams. Two years later, we’re looking forward to shared channels, due to be delivered later in 2021. Taken together with regular channels, some folks are now confused as to where they should consider the use of regular, private, or shared channels for collaboration. Let’s try and define the use cases for regular and private channels and set out what might happen with shared channels, acknowledging that these are not yet generally available.

Regular Channels

A team is built from channels. Starting off, a team has a General channel. In fact, the General channel is the core of a team. It cannot be removed or renamed. But that’s OK, because a team can have up to 199 additional regular channels to use to segregate discussions. All team members have full access to whatever’s stored in regular channels.

Ideally, the General channel should be kept for team-wide announcements rather than discussions, which should be in channels dedicated to themes. There’s nothing to stop you keeping everything in the General channel and this can work for low-traffic teams, but once discussions heat up and become active, keeping everything in General often creates a catch-all collection of badly organized topics that’s difficult to navigate. For this reason, it’s best to block the ability to post to the General channel to anyone but team owners (Figure 1).

Restricting team members from posting to the General channel
Figure 1: Restricting team members from posting to the General channel

Posting privileges for other channels works differently. Instead of just owners, you can assign channel moderators and restrict the ability to add new posts to moderators (Figure 2).

Restricting posting to a regular channel (not General)
Figure 2: Restricting posting to a regular channel (not General)

Apart from restricting who can post into channels, the major issue is to decide on how many channels to have within a team. You can have a team with 200 channels (General limited, 199 available for conversations). Without iron discipline on the part of members and owners alike, the team will be a mess. In all likelihood, relatively few channels will be used on a daily basis and the rest will become the digital equivalent of abandoned frontier towns with a few initial conversations and then nothing. In short, it’s better to start with a few channels and grow the number of channels when justified by an obvious demand. It’s also good to have someone act as the DRI to keep an eye on what happens in a channel.

Private Channels

A private channel is a restricted part of a team that’s only available to a subset of team members. There can be up to 30 private channels in a team, each supporting a membership of up to 250 tenant and guest accounts. Managing channel membership looks and feels like managing the membership of a team (Figure 3) with the proviso that someone must join a team first before they can join a private channel within the team. To maintain privacy, team owners must become a member of a private channel to be able to access content belonging to the channel.

Understanding The Three Types of Channels in Microsoft Teams
Figure 3: Managing the membership of a private channel

If someone leaves a team, they lose access to the private channels they had membership of. Teams also removes people from private channel membership if their Azure AD account is disabled.

Private channels are useful in scenarios when some confidential discussions need to happen away from the view of all team members. For example, you might need to discuss the financial structure of a project without exposing all the details to every team member. A private channel does this by providing a space for conversations and a dedicated SharePoint Online site for sharing documents.

Apart from having its own membership (or “roster”), the dedicated SharePoint site is the most distinctive feature of a private channel. Microsoft went with this approach to ensure that they could guarantee the privacy of documents shared within the private channel. The sites used for private channels are created in the same geographic region as the parent team and inherit settings from the parent site (the classification setting is synchronized automatically by Teams). Teams also synchronizes settings and site membership from the host team to the private channel sites to make sure that important controls like sensitivity labels can’t be removed.

Not all Teams apps work with private channels. In fact, while first-party apps like Microsoft Lists work with private channels, others like Planner don’t. Getting an app to work means that the developer needs to support the unique characteristics of private channels, including taking steps to ensure data privacy. Apps like Lists work because they leverage SharePoint Online and use site settings. Other apps aren’t so lucky.

Shared Channels

Shared channels are part of the Microsoft Teams Connect initiative. The current plan is that shared channels will be available “later” in 2021m, depending on how shared channels work out in Microsoft’s Technology Adoption Program (TAP) where real customers work with the technology to make sure it works well in their environments.

Shared channels bring external federation to the table. Instead of using Azure B2B Collaboration (guest accounts) to define who can access a shared channel, an organization will enable federation with other Microsoft 365 tenants to allow teams and individual users to connect to work together. External federation is used for 1:1 calls in Teams today but extending the technology to cover channel conversations and document sharing requires a lot more engineering effort and testing to ensure privacy, compliance, and so on.

Federation might emphasize the importance of the host tenant, meaning the tenant which owns the team and the content belonging to the team. Collaborating with another organization who ends up owning the content is an interesting concept which will have to be parsed out by some, but in effect it’s the same effect as today when a guest account creates some content in a host tenant. Tenant administrators already complain today that they have zero visibility about the actions taken by “their” users when they sign into other organizations to use Teams. Quite how they’ll take it when a complete team joins a shared channel in another organization is unclear. We’ll know in time.

Of course, the downside of federation is that you can collaborate only with people using Teams. Although Teams has many users, it’s still covers a limited subset of the people you might want to work with.

Choice is Good

Going forward, the three channel options available in Teams will be:

  • Regular: Open to all team members, use for day-to-day communication within a team.
  • Private: Open to a defined subset of team members (including guests), use for private conversations and document sharing.
  • Shared: Open to a defined subset of team members and people/teams shared in other federated organizations, use for collaboration.

Of course, things may change, and this is a topic certainly worth revisiting after shared channels become generally available.

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft 365 exams: The importance of certifications for tenant administrators

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Microsoft 365 certification exams have changed and evolved a great deal over the years, and there is more choice than ever before in terms of learning paths and SME categories. Becoming certified is important for many reasons, and as we delve deeper into this increasingly important subject, you’ll begin to understand why.

In this article, we’ll explore how to get started on your Microsoft 365 certification journey; help you better understand how to choose the best certification path; the steps needed to begin your journey and provide more perspective around the value and importance of M365 exams as it relates to personal growth and career development.

A Brief History of Microsoft 365 Exams

A few years ago, I would have shied away from the challenge of taking exams. I did not consider myself an “academic,” therefore exams were not for me, they were for other, smarter people. However, my mindset changed when I shifted my career focus from being an IT generalist to specializing in Office 365. It was the emergence of cloud technology that sparked a drive and a passion in me I’d never known before.

Prior to that, I’d always liked my career, but never loved it. Now, I had a newfound desire to hone my skills and conquer this lifelong aversion to academic achievement to better understand this new frontier.  At that time, there was only one certification path available for Office 365 which was the now-retired Office 365 MCSA.  This comprised two exams shown in Figure 1:

Microsoft 365 exams: The importance of certifications for tenant administrators
Figure 1: The 70-346 and 70-347 exams which comprised the now-retired Office 365 MCSA.

To my delight, I had passed!   I booked the second exam a week later and didn’t do so well, but undeterred, I booked another attempt. I used the score breakdown report from the first attempt to study up on the areas where I needed the most improvement, which was incredibly useful.  On my second attempt, I passed and achieved my MCSA:

Microsoft 365 exams: The importance of certifications for tenant administrators
Figure 2: The MCSA certification badge.

The feeling of pride and sense of achievement was overwhelming, and from there I was hooked! Fortunately, my timing was perfect – I’d achieved the MCSA with a month to spare before it was retired, and Microsoft had recently revamped the Microsoft 365 certifications and introduced new role-based certifications.  My learning obsession was just getting started.

Getting Started with Microsoft 365 Role-Based Certifications

At Ignite 2018, Microsoft announced the new role-based certifications for Microsoft 365.  The certifications are comprised of three tiers:

  • 1-star fundamental level certifications – Ideal for beginners starting their learning journey; strengthens your grasp on the fundamentals within a particular subject matter area of Microsoft 365.
  • 2-star Associate level certifications – Designed to test your competency within a particular subject matter area of Microsoft 365.
  • 3-star Expert level certifications – This certification demonstrates that you are an expert within a particular subject matter area of Microsoft 365.

From a Microsoft 365 perspective, the certification that validates you as an expert is the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert. There are several paths to achieve expert certification.  You can complete one prerequisite Associate level certification, or complete two exams:

Microsoft 365 exams: The importance of certifications for tenant administrators
Figure 3: Certification paths to the Microsoft 365 Certified: Enterprise Administrator Expert.

This was a welcomed change from Microsoft, as it meant that exam candidates could achieve expert certification by selecting the role path most relevant to them – i.e., Security, Teams, or Modern Desktop.  The criteria for passing the individual exams remained the same, with a score of 700 or more being required.

Preparing For Microsoft 365 Role-Based Exams

So, what are the best ways to prepare for a Microsoft 365 role-based exam?  That will vary from person to person as we all have different learning styles, and you will obviously have an advantage if you already have hands-on experience working with the technologies in the exam outlines.

For study exercises, Microsoft 365 trial tenants can be provisioned and then discarded quite easily to test out the features you’ll need to learn about. If you are looking for more queues from Microsoft, the learning paths they provide for each certification exam are a great resource, and always my go-to whenever I begin studying for a new certification.

For example, if you’re starting your certification journey with the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity & Services exam, start working your way through the free learning path first:

Microsoft 365 exams: The importance of certifications for tenant administrators
Figure 4: Various learning paths associated with the MS-100: Microsoft 365 Identity & Services exam.

There are also several exam guidebooks available, both print and online versions.  Many of these come with valuable practice questions, and sometimes even a full mock exam to test your knowledge.  And if you REALLY want to test what you have learned, there are also online practice tests you can purchase.  However, you’ll want to make sure you find authorized practice tests through reputable providers and be wary of questionable sources.

I recently recorded a video with Steve Goodman on this exact topic, where we candidly discuss M365 exam prep – the fundamentals, but also the rationality – i.e., is it worth focusing on exams relevant to what you do today, for example Managing Teams or Security Administration? What’s more important – hands on experience or knowing the best Microsoft answer?

Check out the video below to hear our analysis of those questions, and more:

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail

It’s important to realize there’s no shame if you don’t pass a Microsoft exam on your first attempt.  You can prepare in all the best ways possible, but sometimes it boils down to ‘luck of the draw’ and the questions you’re handed.  If you don’t get through that first time, look at your score report which you will receive at the end of the exam.  This shows you how the exam was broken down, and it will guide you clearly to the areas where you need to brush up on your knowledge.

If your first score just fell a little short of the 700-pass threshold, take the exam again as soon as you can.  If your score was closer to the 450 mark, you’ll want to give yourself more time to prepare and study before you try again.  Have faith though, you will get there!

So, Why Take M365 Exams?

To the all-important question then – are Microsoft 365 certifications important?  The answer most certainly is, ‘yes!’ Becoming certified is a fantastic way to validate your existing skills and gain new ones.  It demonstrates to existing and potential employers that you are passionate about what you do, and that you take your career seriously.

These exams are also important because they ensure you’re keeping your skills up to date in an ever-changing and evolving landscape of exam outlines.  Microsoft recently implemented an annual renewal assessment for certifications so you can continue to validate your competencies in Microsoft 365 technologies.  The process of renewing your certifications is free, simple, and extremely fair, and requires you take an assessment of 25 questions based on the current exam outline (which may have many differences since you first took the actual exam).  The assessment is not subject to exam conditions, so you may do it anywhere, at any time, and if you don’t pass the first time, then you can simply try again.

Additionally, these Microsoft 365 certifications matter even more to many employers who are Microsoft partners, especially partners who are in the process of obtaining certain Microsoft competencies. In fact, many of these Microsoft partner organizations reimburse admins for the cost of the exams.

Above all though, the most important reason is to do it for yourself, because you love learning, and you love working with Microsoft 365 technologies and services.  It’s a great feeling when you pass one of these exams, and it does become addictive – especially with so many shiny badges to collect and share.  It also may lead you to unexpected paths and opportunities – you just never know!

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Microsoft Teams

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos

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If you regularly show people Microsoft Teams, such as in demos to colleagues or when training, then there are aspects that are difficult to show if you are on your own. Most of the time, grabbing a colleague to act as your demo partner isn’t too hard if you want to demonstrate calling or video – but showing off meeting functionality can be quite difficult.

If you’ve seen our recent How-To videos, such as how to Live stream Microsoft Teams events to YouTube and social media then you’ll have seen our approach to solving this using virtual meeting participants. So you can do the same, we’ve created an script to create the same setup automatically, and you can also download the virtual meeting attendees to use however you want. And – if you want to create your own virtual meeting attendees, read on to find out how.

Demonstrating features like Together Mode is difficult

Even if you do have several folks on-hand in different locations, willing to wait until you need them during your demo – only to drop in to smile and wave, it is quite difficult to co-ordinate. If you’ve done this yourself, you’ll know some people might get called away or even have technical difficulties – the last thing you want during a demo.

And, because features like Together Mode, Large Gallery View or simply showing people how to manage a meeting with more than a few participants either requires video – or is simply a lot more engaging when there’s video on-screen, simply launching multiple copies of the web browser isn’t a great option.

So what if you could bring in meeting attendees with video that balance the need for it to look reasonably professional, but also make it fun and engaging? A good and easy way to do this is to create several stop-motion videos using characters like minifigures and figurines:

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos
Example of using Together Mode with virtual meeting attendees

What do you need need to set up virtual meeting attendees?

To do this, we’ll need to create several Windows 10 virtual machines running:

  • Microsoft Teams – to join meetings. You could use a web-browser on each VM, but this won’t allow you to demonstrate features like background effects in-person.
  • OBS Studio – we need software that presents a virtual webcam into the meeting. OBS allows us to play looped video files into its built-in virtual webcam software that can then be shown in Microsoft Teams.
  • Video Files – and of course, you need virtual meeting attendees.
  • Optionally, RDCMan. The new RDCMan (Remote Desktop Connection Manager) from Microsoft’s Sysinternals suite allows you to configure a group of virtual machines, connect to them with a single click and switch between them easily. You’ll find this useful when you need to join the virtual attendees to your meeting and need to quickly connect to and switch between the VMs.

Each virtual machine needs to login to Microsoft Teams as a different demo user (for obvious reasons) and to make the demos look great, you should choose a different video for each virtual user.

If you aren’t extremely technical or don’t want to spend time setting up Windows 10, then use Azure to host virtual machines. As you’ll only need to start up the virtual machines for the period of your demo, it should not exhaust your Azure credits (if you use an MSDN subscription, or a trial) or be costly. An Azure Standard A2 v2 virtual machine running Microsoft’s template for Windows 10 21H1 for each VM works well.

To make it easy for you to set up OBS Studio and the video files for each virtual meeting attendee, all resources and a script to setup each virtual machine ready to use is available on GitHub:

https://github.com/spgoodman/TeamsVirtualUsers

In the repo, you’ll find the video files you’ll have seen in the Practical 365 how-to videos, and several others:

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos

Using the script to set up each virtual meeting attendee VM

In the GitHub repository above, you’ll find the Install-TeamsVirtualUsers.ps1 script. After creating a new Windows 10 VM, either in Azure, locally on your machine or elsewhere, sign-in with the demo user you’ll login with when joining your demo meeting, with administrator rights.

Download the script and run it from an elevated PowerShell prompt. It will install Chocolatey (a package manager for Windows) to automate the installation of Microsoft Teams and OBS, and download the OBS profile and sample video files:

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos
Using the Install-TeamsVirtualUsers.ps1 script to setup Teams, OBS and the configuration files on a VM

The installation process will take approximately 15 minutes, and if OBS is already installed, will prompt before overwriting the profile files with the pre-configured OBS profile.

At the end of the setup process, you’ll be prompted to choose the video file (from the samples) you would like to display by default, and you’ll also be prompted to optionally set the VM to automatically sign-in to the console on boot:

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos
Selecting the virtual meeting attendee and optional auto-login

Automatic login isn’t necessary, but can be useful in saving time, because OBS is set by the script to auto-launch to the system tray with the virtual webcam enabled on startup, and after first login to Microsoft Teams it will (by default) automatically start.

After the script completes, logout and log back into the virtual machine to allow OBS to automatically start with the virtual webcam enabled (or launch it and start the virtual webcam manually), then launch Microsoft Teams.

To ensure you have the right settings for joining subsequent meetings, schedule a test meeting with your virtual meeting users, and then join each one to the test meeting, with video enabled and audio set to off:

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos
Joining a meeting as a virtual attendee with video on and audio off

Repeat the process for the number of virtual meeting attendees you need, then when preparing for a demo, join them to the meeting like a normal user. You’ll then be able to demonstrate features like Together Mode.

Creating your own videos

If you want to create your own virtual meeting attendee videos the process is straightforward, though can be time consuming. For best effect, you need to create a video of between 5 and 15 seconds that shows your character on a call that starts and ends in approximately the same position.

The easiest way to do this is using a mobile phone camera and a free application, such as Stop Motion Studio on Android. Stop motion is a simple animation technique where a series of photos are taken and in each photo, the object moves slightly. It works well as a virtual attendee, as stop-motion doesn’t need a video frame rate and therefore doesn’t need a lot of CPU power to drive.

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos
Creating stop motion videos for virtual meeting attendees.

Characters like minifigures and other posable characters are ideal for this, with minifigures being easiest because they can be positioned in-place and do not move.

You can use a light source for consistent lighting, or choose to move the light slightly – for example in the sample videos the lighting changes to simulate ambient light changes in the coffee house “set”. In the comic book character examples, a paper background was used. Of course – the background isn’t crucial, as you can use features like background effects in the meeting itself.

After creating and exporting a stop motion video, you can then load it into OBS on your virtual meeting user VMs. To do this, open up the OBS application, and create a new Scene, then add a single Media Source:

Creating engaging Teams Meeting demos
Configuring the media source for your own virtual meeting attendee video

After creating the scene and source, edit the properties for the media source so that the video is set to Loop and if you have multiple scenes, ensure you set Close file when inactive to avoid using CPU resources unnecessarily.

Finally, if you create your own – let us know either in the comments below or on Twitter. We’d love to see what you create.

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Microsoft Teams

Skype for Business Online is retiring – What does it mean?

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Soon July 31st, 2021, will be upon us, as the official Skype for Business Online (SfBO) retirement day looms closer. So, what does that really mean? It means just that, SfBO will not be available in Microsoft 365 anymore. Teams Only mode will be the only option for users homed in Microsoft 365.

Assisted Transitions from Microsoft

Microsoft will offer assisted transitions for your tenant during specified periods. To find the date specified for you, navigate over to the Teams admin center. During that time, Microsoft will help flip your tenant to Teams Only mode for all users homed in Microsoft 365.

After that period, all other modes like IslandsMeeting First, or Meeting and collaboration will not be available options for your users, as these modes were just steps along the way to Teams Only mode.

Figure 1: Microsoft Teams Upgrade Message.

Do-it-Yourself

If necessary, you do not have to wait for Microsoft to help you with the transition. There are ways to flip your tenant over to Teams Only mode yourself, and those steps are outlined below:

  1. Validate DNS records for all enabled SIP domains.
  2. Make sure SharedSipAddressSpace is set to $False.
  3. Set the global TeamsUpgradePolicy to Teams Only mode.
  4. Make sure users with other TeamsUpgradeEffectiveModes are also updated.
  5. Plan to uninstall the Skype for Business (SfB) client.
  6. If you are in Exchange hybrid mode, consider completing the migration to Exchange Online before going to Teams Only mode.

Before you can set the TeamsUpgradePolicy to Teams Only mode, you need to comb through all active SIP domains and make sure the DNS exists and points to SfBO. If you’ve verified domains in your tenant, but are not using them for SfBO and Teams, you can disable them for this functionality by running the Disable-CsOnlineSipDomain cmdlet. This is a straightforward way to determine if you have any verified domains in your tenant that are SIP-enabled, but not in use. Just make sure you have the latest Teams PowerShell module to perform the below PowerShell operations first, since the SfBO PowerShell module is decommissioned.

For the remaining domains that are SIP enabled, you need to make sure the following DNS records exist:

  • _sip._tls SRV record handles sign in for the SfB client
  •  _sipfederationtls handles federation in Microsoft Teams
  • CNAME lyncdiscover.contoso.com handles sign for the SfB client and specifically the SfB mobile client
  • CNAME sip.contoso.com handles sign in for the SfB client

When these records are implemented, and all are pointing to Microsoft 365, there is one more setting you can triple check which is the SIP shared namespace setting for your tenant. If this setting is set to True, it means that at some point you had a Hybrid SfB setup and never turned it off. Here’s how you check it and set it to False using the Teams PowerShell module:

You are now ready to flip the tenant with the below cmdlet:

If your users explicitly have assigned modes different from the tenant standard, then you need to set these users to Teams Only mode. The Grant-CsTeamsUpgradePolicy article has some good examples of how you can identify all users and their TeamsUpgradeEffectiveMode. From there you can create a list of users where you can use the New-CsBatchPolicyAssignmentOperation to bulk assign the Teams Only mode policy.

Do you need the Skype client after you have moved to Teams Only mode?

It depends. After you’ve moved all users to Teams, the client changes to a meeting mode client where you will find your SfB meetings and Teams meetings. Chat and calling are moved to and handled by Teams. A reason for many organizations to hold on to the SfB client in the past has been:

  • Federation, chat, audio call, and video call with non-guest users
  • Group chat with internal and federated participants
  • Escalate a federated audio call to a screen sharing call

All the above works fine in Teams now, with the latest addition being group chats where you can combine internal and federated users. The requirement is that both sides are in Teams Only mode. If you are collaborating with someone still on SfBS, then you must invite them to a meeting where you join via the SfB web client, or they can join a Teams meeting you invite them to.

Figure 2: Teams Only mode in the SfB Client.

Unless you are participating in a lot of externally invited SfB Server calls, my recommendation is to uninstall the SfB client. Reason being, we’ve seen that the SfB client can sign in and interfere with the Teams audio device and sometimes reinitialize the device driver and hang up your Teams call. It turns out that it’s not so easy to just uninstall the SfB client, since it is part of the Office installation. This means that Office needs to be re-deployed in your organization without the Skype client as part of the deployment package. Until you can initiate the redeployment, consider setting the SfB client to not start at logon.

Where your Exchange mailbox is, matters for success

To achieve the best results when moving over to Teams, ensure you open your Exchange mailbox in Exchange Online. In that instance, the Meeting Migration Service will initiate and convert all SfB meetings to Teams meetings. However, you should be aware that re-invitations will generate for external participants, but internally these updated invitations are suppressed.

If your mailbox is still in Exchange Server on-premises, then you’ll require a hybrid setup so you can assign an Exchange license to the user. By doing it this way the Teams client can still access the calendar and schedule meetings, but they will not automatically be updated from Skype to Teams meetings.

You’ll need to plan the move accordingly and communicate to users that they will need to send updated meeting invitations manually. The good news with moving to Teams though is that all Teams clients do not connect directly to your on-premises mailbox. They connect via Microsoft 365, which means you can harden your on-premises environment and limit the number of IP ranges able to connect to the servers, and no calendar data is cashed in Microsoft 365 when using Teams.

Skype for Business Server (SfBS) Hybrid will still work with all modes

As explained earlier in this article, DNS needs to point online to move your tenant to Teams Only mode. If DNS is pointing on-premises in a hybrid SfBS setup, you can still have users in Island ModeMeeting First, or Meeting First with Collaboration, which I’ve verified with Microsoft. This emphasizes that only SfBO is being retired and not the Skype ecosystem itself. The moment you migrate a user online, then Teams Only mode will be the only option for that user. If you do not migrate the user, then you can choose modes.

Speaking of migration, if you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to install the Teams PowerShell Module on your SfBS Front End servers. Microsoft retired the SfBO PowerShell module and connection point in April 2021, which means if you had a migration routine going or you at some point tested a migration before that date, it will now fail.

The SfBO PowerShell cmdlets are now part of the Teams PowerShell module, and that is why you need to install the module and use it when migrating. A caveat of this scenario is that the SfB Control Panel will also fail to connect to SfBO since it used the SfBO PowerShell module in the backend. This means that you can only migrate users using the Teams PowerShell module now.

Closing note

It’s important to understand that with SfBO being retired, if your users are homed in Microsoft 365 and you’ve already migrated all your users, Teams will be their only option after July 31st, 2021.

At the time of writing, it’s required to assign both the SfBO and Teams license to all users, however, that may change over time. And finally, make sure you go through all verified SIP-enabled domains and add the SfB DNS records to ensure a smooth transition. I hope this article provided some clarity around what the SfB retirement means for you and your users.

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Microsoft Teams

Teams Meetings Get Webinar Capability

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Announced for Teams desktop (Windows and Mac) and browser clients in message center notification MC237807 on February 4, deemed to be rolling out in roadmap item 66586, and hyped at Ignite 2021 in sessions like Easy, intuitive webinars with Microsoft Teams, the long-flagged webinar functionality for Teams meetings is coming in April with worldwide deployment due to complete in early May.

Along with other new features like meeting overflow (view-only attendees), being able to run webinars through regular meetings allows Teams to compete externally with products like GoToWebinar and Zoom Webinar or even internally with Teams Live Events.

One thing we still don’t know is if the webinar functionality is tied to the Teams Pro license. Microsoft is staying very quiet on what that license will cover.

Preparing for Webinars

Teams meetings are either personal (organized by someone and limited to those invited) or channel (owned by the team and available to all team members). Webinar meetings can only be personal single events and they can only be created using the Teams calendar app rather than Outlook. If you want to run a multi-day event, you need to create multiple webinars as recurring meetings are not supported. Breakout rooms are also not supported. These gaps might well be closed in the future.

Settings in the Teams meeting policy assigned to user accounts control who can schedule webinar meetings and if webinars are internal-only or accessible by both internal and external attendees. For now, the settings are configurable by PowerShell and are:

  • AllowMeetingRegistration: Controls if a user can create a webinar meeting. The default is True.
  • WhoCanRegister: Controls the attendees who can attend a webinar meeting. The default is EveryoneInCompany, meaning that internal accounts and guest accounts can attend. If you want to organize public webinars, set the value to Everyone.
  • AllowEngagementReport: Controls if the user can download the meeting’s attendance report and the registration report. Make sure this value is Enabled as a big part of running a webinar is knowing about audience acquisition and participation.
  • StreamingModeEnabled: Controls if Teams uses overflow capability once a meeting reaches its capacity (1,000 users with full functionality). Set this to Enabled to allow up to 20,000 extra view-only attendees to join.

Here’s how to update a meeting policy with the required values:

Like any change to Teams policy settings, it can take several hours before the new settings are effective.

One setting that’s missing is control over attendee privacy. Participants in teams meetings can see details of other attendees. This is fine for internal meetings but maybe not for external events. It would be good to be able to control if attendee details are visible to non-presenters.

Creating Your First Webinar

Before creating a webinar meeting, the organizer should know:

  • The webinar topic and date for the event.
  • Decide whether the event is internal or external. Once created, you can’t change the scope.
  • How attendees will register for the webinar. When you create the webinar, Teams creates a registration form or page into which you put content describing the event and data you would like participants to provide, including custom questions. Teams generates a URL for the registration page to include in email or on a web site to have potential attendees register for the event. You can also invite people to attend the webinar just like regular meetings.
  • The presenters. These people need to be invited to the meeting.

As an example, I took the details of a webinar to discuss moving on-premises Exchange servers to the cloud and replicated them in Teams. First, I created the meeting in the Teams calendar app (Figure 1), making sure that the meeting requires registration (to mark it as a webinar). Note that I’ve elected to have “everyone” register for the event, which means that it’s a public webinar.

Figure 1: Creating a webinar as a Teams meeting

Clicking the link to customize the registration form allows the organizer to enter details of the event, speakers, and some custom questions (Figure 2). You can add as many custom questions as you like but remember that each question adds some friction to the enrolment process, so it’s best to keep the questions to a minimum. We’ve set the questions to require answers, meaning that people can’t register until they enter a valid response. Teams includes a bunch of precanned fields which can also be included, like the person’s organization.

Figure 2: Setting up the webinar details

Broadcasting News of the Event

The link to the registration form (use Copy link to retrieve the link) looks something like this:

This link should be included in email or a web page to let people know about the webinar and to allow them to register. Remember that Exchange Online limits the number of outbound messages a mailbox can send in a day to 10,000 recipients and 30 messages per minute. For this reason, organizers of webinars who want to notify large populations of potential attendees should use a commercial email service to broadcast news of the webinar. Figure 3 shows a message ready to go with the registration link embedded in the text.

Creating an invitation email for the webinar
Figure 3: Creating an invitation email for the webinar

Registering for the Webinar

Recipients who click the Register Today link are brought to the Teams registration page (Figure 4) where they can sign up for the webinar and answer the questions posed by the organizer. The result of a successful registration is an entry into the meeting’s registration report and an email Teams sends to the attendee to confirm registration and give the event details, including an .ics file to add the event to their calendar.

Signing up for the webinar
Figure 4: Signing up for the webinar

The organizer can check on potential attendance for the webinar at any time by downloading the registration report. However, if they find someone objectionable (like a person from a competitor) in the registration report, there’s no way to block that person from attending the webinar apart from refusing them access when they turn up in the meeting lobby.

Like the attendance report for normal Teams meetings, the downloaded copy of the registration report is a CSV file (Figure 5).

 Registration report for a Teams webinar
Figure 5: Registration report for a Teams webinar

The norm is that only 30-40% of registered attendees show up for a public webinar with higher attendances expected for internal events. Your mileage might vary. Like the attendance report available for normal meetings, Teams generates the registration data from information held in its online data store.

Run the Meeting

A webinar meeting runs in much the same way as a normal meeting with the usual Teams facilities like meeting recording, polls, meeting notes, reactions, and live captions available. Presenters can share information like presentations and other applications. Teams meeting options govern whether chat is disabled and who can bypass the meeting lobby (for public meetings, make sure that you don’t allow external people to join until the webinar is ready to begin). In late April, organizers will also be able to update meeting options to block attendees from turning their video feed on (including for individual attendees).

In other words, if you can run a regular Teams meeting, with a little extra preparation, you can run a webinar.

Following the Event

Once a webinar completes, the organizer will probably want to review the recording and decide if it can be shared publicly along with any other content to attendees and people who couldn’t attend the event. Because Teams meeting recordings are now stored as MP4 files in OneDrive for Business, it’s easy to share the recording from OneDrive or move it someone more appropriate.

The organizer will probably also want to review the data in the registration and attendance reports to understand how popular the event was and how engaged attendees were during the webinar. For example, did a significant number of people drop out early? The registration report is also a good source for names and email addresses for follow-up calls by sales representatives or others. The attendance report is less reliable because people don’t have to confirm their email address to join a webinar, which means that the data for external attendee lacks verified contact information.

Compliance Glitch

Teams doesn’t store the registration and attendance reports in a location where Microsoft Search can index their content to make it available for eDiscovery. Given that some personal information is gathered for these reports (including custom fields for the registration report), this could be an issue for some organizations.

Easy Webinars Delivered

There’s no doubt that Teams has delivered an easy way to run webinars by leveraging its meeting capabilities with some extra functionality. This is going to be a popular feature. The sole question is how will it be licensed?

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Gets Bounty Program with Rewards up to $30,000

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Microsoft has several bug bounty programs that reward security researchers and hackers who find vulnerabilities across services. In the last example, a Microsoft Teams bounty program is launching. It will follow similar principles to the company’s programs.

The timing of this launch is important because it comes at a time when Microsoft Teams is a fundamental tool for millions of people. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, people continue to work remotely, making services like Microsoft Teams essential.

Maintaining security is important for organizations that are working remote. While Microsoft uses the latest cybersecurity technology to keep Teams secure, the chance of attack remains. A bounty program will task researchers with finding any vulnerabilities Microsoft has missed.

It’s a similar idea we have seen the company employ across bounty programs for Azure and Windows services. Specifically, Microsoft will pay researchers if they are able to find security issues within Microsoft Teams.

Rewards

Hackers can be paid between $6,000 and $30,000, with the later reward for high-impact vulnerabilities. These are issues that require immediate attention by Microsoft. Below are the rewards Microsoft is offering:

  • “Scenario-Based Bounty Awards: This new program includes 5 scenario-based awards for vulnerabilities that have the highest potential impact on customer privacy and security. Rewards for these scenarios range from $6,000 to $30,000 USD.
  • General Bounty Awards: In addition, we offer bounty awards for other valid vulnerability reports for the Teams desktop client that do not qualify for the scenario-based awards. Rewards for these reports range from $500 to $15,000 USD.
  • Teams Online: Submissions for Teams online services will continue to be awarded under the Online Services Bounty Program.
  • Researcher Recognition Program Points: Valid reports for Microsoft Teams research are now eligible for a 2x bonus multiplier under the Researcher Recognition Program. Points earned contribute toward your eligibility for the annual MSRC Most Valuable Security Researcher list.”

Researchers must take a test on Teams through a subscription they hold. When a bug is found, hackers must be able to demonstrate the bug on the latest version of the Microsoft Teams desktop client.

Tip of the day:

Due to the various problems that arise with microphones, it can often be necessary to perform a mic test, but those wondering how to hear yourself on mic in Windows 10 are often left stumped. Microsoft’s OS doesn’t make it especially intuitive to listen to microphone playback or play the microphone through speakers. In our tutorial we show you how to hear yourself on mic with just a few clicks.

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