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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams Getting New View Switcher Menu

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Over the last two years, Microsoft has been updating its Microsoft Teams service at a rapid pace. As the company seeks to keep pace with and better rivals like Slack and Zoom, Teams gets major updates every month. So, when something like a new View Switcher menu arrives, it is actually seen as a relatively small update.

Still, for users of Microsoft Teams the new View Switcher menu may be a valuable tool to have. Microsoft has announced the new feature and says it will gather all view options in Teams Meeting together in one menu.

Those options are Large Gallery, Together Mode, Gallery and more. Users can now access them in a dedicated menu found at the top left of a meeting window. In other words, they will be right in reach without users needing to shuffle through the navigation menu.

The feature is now listed on the Microsoft 365 roadmap with the following description:

“The new view switcher in the top bar of a Teams meeting allows participants to control how they prefer to see the meeting content. Choose between Together mode, Focus, Gallery at top, and Full screen.”

Update

It is a small update that simply improves the usability of Microsoft Teams. Microsoft says it will begin launching the feature for some users by late October. The update will be gradual and reach all Teams customers by mid-November.

This is the latest feature to roll off the Microsoft Teams production pipeline. Last month, Microsoft introduced its Customer Lockbox tool on the app. Microsoft uses the Lockbox on numerous platforms and apps, such as Azure, OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online, and SharePoint Online. It prevents Microsoft from accessing information when a customer is troubleshooting or servicing.

Tip of the day: Windows Aero Shake is a handy feature that lets you quickly reduce screen clutter with a shake of an app’s title bar. Doing so minimizes all windows other than the one in focus, allowing you to focus solely on what’s at hand. Another wiggle lets you undo Aero Shake, maximizing the other Windows again so you can continue working.

Unfortunately, the feature can also have unintended consequences. Those who move their windows about or have dual monitors may notice that they’re accidentally activating Windows shaking. Luckily, enabling or disabling Aero shake isn’t too hard.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Announces Massive Skype Updates Coming Soon

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Skype has become something of a secondary communication app following the success of Microsoft Teams. Certainly, Microsoft puts more resources into updating Teams with new features on a regular basis. However, Skype has not been forgotten and Microsoft is now announcing a bunch of new features coming to the platform.

In a roadmap of changes coming to Skype over the coming month, Microsoft is showing the next era of the platform. Skype is an old service by now, but it has been refreshed several times in the past. While Microsoft is not planning a complete overhaul, it is making changes to help the app compete in a Zoom world.

We will jump straight into the changes, but it is worth noting Microsoft is offering no launch dates for any new features. “Coming soon” or “coming later this year” on that front.

Leading the list of changes is a new stage for calls. The grid system that displays all participants in a call will now show everybody, even if they do not have their camera on. This is a very Zoom and Microsoft Teams inspired feature and makes it easier to track participants.

Furthermore, the call stage is also getting some customization options in the form of theme and layouts. In terms of the latter, you users can choose between Together Mode, content view, grid view, speaker view, and large gallery.

When a participant is only in audio mode, Skype will provide more options for how you see them. This includes the ability to choose customized backgrounds for audio caller windows.

Other Updates

Moving away from the call stage, Microsoft is also refreshing the whole Skype application. For example, there is a new layout system coming to Chat headers, including group avatars and button gradients. Microsoft is also tapping into its Fluent Design UI aesthetic across the Skype experience to add a new theme and look to the app.

Furthermore, Microsoft is promising to improve Skype across all web browsers:

“We believe the Skype experience should be seamless, accessible, and reliable no matter what browser or device you are using, so we are adding support for all browsers. We would like to make sure that no matter which device, platform, or browser you’re using, Skype will always give you a great experience.”

Microsoft is also talking up a feature known as TwinCam, which allows users to pair their smartphone with Skype to function as a second camera during calls. Finally, the PSTN Translator addition allows direct communication with people who speak another language during voice and video calls.

Tip of the day: Did you know that a virtual drive on Windows 10 can help you with disk management for various reasons? A virtual drive is just simulated by the platform as a separate drive while the holding file might be stored anywhere on your system.

The data in the drive is available in files or folders, which are represented by software in the operating system as a drive. In our tutorial we show you different ways how to setup and use such

virtual drives.

Source Winbuzzer
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Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams to Get Customer Lockbox Feature in 2022

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Microsot-Dynamics-365-Microsoft-Teams-Collaborative-App

Microsoft says it is working on bringing its Customer Lockbox feature to Microsoft Teams. This will bringing enhanced troubleshooting to the communication and collaboration platform.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen Microsoft drastically expand Teams with regular feature updates. It is now one of the most popular collaboration platforms and thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic. Such is the popularity of Teams, Microsoft is now integrating it into Windows 11.

With so many features, the chance of things going wrong in Microsoft Teams increases. Users may have to conduct troubleshooting and servicing of the platform. That is partly why Microsoft is now working on folding in Customer Lockbox not teams.

If you are unfamiliar with Customer Lockbox, it is a tool Microsoft uses on numerous platforms and apps, such as Azure, OneDrive for Business, Exchange Online, and SharePoint Online. It prevents Microsoft from accessing information when a customer is troubleshooting or servicing:

“Customer Lockbox provides an interface for customers to review and approve or reject customer data access requests. It is used in cases where a Microsoft engineer needs to access customer data, whether in response to a customer-initiated support ticket or a problem identified by Microsoft.”

Roadmap

Customer Lockbox is now a part of the Microsoft 365 Roadmap and shows under Feature ID 86190. This means the feature will be rolling out to Microsoft Teams. However, we will have to wait a while for the tool to arrive, with a March 2022 release date on the roadmap.

Microsoft will launch the feature across the Teams ecosystem, including Web, Worldwide, and Teams GCC. When it launches, we will know which data the Lockbox will protect.

Tip of the day: Fast startup (a.k.a hiberboot, hybrid boot, hybrid shutdown) is a power setting that adjusts the OS’ behavior when it starts up and shuts down. Though it is unlikely fast startup will seriously harm your computer, there are a few reasons you might want to disable it following our tutorial.

Source Winbuzzer

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Microsoft Teams

How Many Channels Should a Team Have?

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By design, Microsoft Teams empowers end users to structure their workspace using different channels to logically separate content and collaboration areas in a way that works for them.

There is no defined “right” or “wrong” way to structure Teams and channels but there are some limits and best practices that can be followed to ensure the structures created are easy to use and navigate.

In this article, I’ll explore the decision process Team owners can use to assess if a new channel is needed, what type should be used and how to manage large numbers of channels in a team.

What Types of Channels can I create?

Before creating a Team or channel, it’s important to understand the different available channel types. For more detailed information please refer to this article Understanding the Three Types of Channels in Microsoft Teams which effectively breaks down the differences between regular channels, private channels, and the upcoming shared channels which will be available later this year.

Team and Channel Limits

The limits associated with Teams and channels evolve as the platform grows so it’s worth keeping track of current limits from the Microsoft Documentation. Some of the more important limits to consider when determining if a new channel should be created are shown in Table 1:

How Many Channels Should a Team Have?
Table 1: Teams Limitations

* This includes deleted channels; deleted channels are available for 30 days after deletion and cannot be removed prior to this. For example, if you have 30 Private channels and delete one, you cannot create another until the 30-day retention period expires.

** After the first 20 users in a Group Chat, rich features such as status messages, typing indicator, group calling, and read receipts are disabled.

What about the General Channel?

By default, every new Team gets a General channel. This is the first channel in every Team and it’s easy to end up using this as a dumping ground for all content. As it’s not possible to rename the General channel, content within the channel does not have the nice classification of being associated with a specific Channel name. In my experience, the General channel is best used to serve as an area where discussions and content relating to the Team itself can be held.

For example, requesting that a new member is added to the Team is not something that requires a specific channel and usually does not relate to the workstreams that the other Channels refer to, so the General channel is perfect for this. Another example is for storing onboarding documentation for how the Team is to be used, this can define the processes used within the Team if required.

Considering Group Chats

Group chats are distinct from Teams and channels and can be used for informal, short-term collaboration. There are some points to consider around using group chats for collaboration:

  • They don’t have dedicated storage; files are held within the senders OneDrive and subject to OneDrive retention policies, not Teams policies
  • Membership is managed separately and informally, there is no ‘owner’ for a group chat and anyone can add or remove members by default
  • Removing members from group chats can be controlled via Teams Messaging Policies
  • They don’t support rich features such as Tabs, Channels, Apps, etc.

Group chats can be great for discussions between a subset of a Teams members and for when content is not ready to be shared with the entire Team but they don’t replace Teams and channels.

When should I use Private Channels?

Private channels were a much-requested feature from the launch of Teams. Essentially, private channels are an area of a Team that does not inherit membership from the parent Team and can be used as a restricted area for conversations and collaboration that not everyone in the Team should see.

This can be extremely useful when you don’t want to break the overall information architecture of the Team but have a requirement to lock content behind a specific permission set (or Roster). Given the much smaller limit on the number of private channels that can be created, along with the fact that the underlying SharePoint storage is independent of the Team site, it’s worth considering if there is a real requirement to block access to content within the channel or if it’s just something that other Team members won’t be interested in and can hide within their client.

Some examples of private channel use cases:

  • Managing the financial aspects of a project within a project Team
  • Providing an “internal only” area in a Team with external guests
  • A management area within a large or company-wide Team

Read more: How to Report Teams Channel Storage with Microsoft Graph API and PowerShell (practical365.com)

Channel Settings

When considering the channel architecture within a Team, a nice feature is having specific channel settings for each channel that is created. The individual channel settings can control moderation and message permissions (Figure 1).

For example, if a new channel is created to publish updates for a specific project, regular channel members can be prevented from starting or replying to posts within that channel. This can all be done on a per-channel basis to allow for flexibility in the structure of the Team.

How Many Channels Should a Team Have?
Figure 1: Channel settings can be configured for each channel where required.

Guest Users

As with regular users, Guest users can be brought into Teams to collaborate as part of the group. Permissions for Guest users can be defined within the Team settings as shown in Figure 2, by default they will not be allowed to create, manage, or delete channels.

How Many Channels Should a Team Have?
Figure 2: Guest user permissions are defined at a Team level.

To participate within a Team, an external user must be provisioned as a Guest user within the tenant, however, when using a group chat, guest users can be brought in once they can federate with your organization. By default, federation is open but some organizations may choose to implement an allowed/blocked domain list to manage federation.

Note: When an external user is added to a group chat, a new chat will be created, and the chat and file share history from the original group chat will not be available to them.

Teams Templates are very useful

When creating Teams for general use, the Teams templates feature is a terrific way to provision a Team with all the most common requirements in place. Templates can be used to predefine a Teams structure (Channels, Tabs and Apps) that is then used to create the Team. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process for regular users.

There is a wide range of built-in templates readily available and custom templates can be created from scratch, or by copying the structure of an existing Team. This means that the most common use cases for your organization can be predefined and offered as a “catalog.” For example, an organization that goes through multiple acquisition projects and uses Teams to manage the process can predefine a template to ensure that the structure provided is identical for each project, even when there are different team members involved. When a Team is deployed via a template, it can then be customized and updated but the initial object will always be the same. Deploying templates is quite easy and end-users can preview what they are provisioning before committing to creating the Team:

How Many Channels Should a Team Have?
Figure 3: Creating a Team from a template.

Do you even need a Team?

As Teams has grown and been adopted at an extraordinary rate across organizations, one question that’s often forgotten when creating a new Team or Channel is – do we need a Team for this? For example, when creating an area to store documentation a Team or channel may not be required at all. Teams brings a lot to the table with the collaboration aspects of conversations, tabs, and apps, but the question should be asked if all that functionality is needed or if a basic SharePoint team site will meet the requirements.

Confusing naming overlap aside, a Team Site/Document Library will give users a location to store, share and collaborate on documents without the extra noise a Team brings with it. Even better, they can be added as a tab in an existing Team to bring it all together as shown in Figure 4. This can be done easily with the Document Library Teams app. One drawback to this method is that permissions on the site/library are managed separately from the Team itself.

How Many Channels Should a Team Have?
Figure 4: The Document Library Teams app can display a library from a SharePoint Team Site within an existing Team.

Organizing Teams and Channels within the Teams Client

As Teams grow with multiple channels, not every channel is of interest to every member of the Team. As a Team owner, channels can be set to show in everyone’s channel list. This allows Team owners to define up to 10 channels that are important to the Team while allowing users to hide or show other channels as required using the Team channel settings shown in Figure 5:

How Many Channels Should a Team Have?
Figure 5: Customize what channels are shown by default.

Users will always see a channel that has a pending important notification for them, regardless of if it is hidden or not.

Another nice feature is the ability to ‘Pin’ channels in the Teams client, giving quick access to the channels that are most important to you by making them always available at the top of the Team/channel list.

Summary

With all of this in mind, if we back to the original question – ‘how many channels should a Team have?’ There isn’t a definitive answer to this, unfortunately, but you can use the below guidance to help make the right decision when creating a channel.

Keeping channels to a minimum is a good practice to help Team members locate content quickly and efficiently, keeping in mind the limit of ten channels that Team owners can set as always shown for members. However, there is nothing wrong with having large numbers of channels once they are all distinct, significant areas of collaboration within the Team.

Consider the alternatives to Teams and channels when deciding to make sure that your requirements are met at the right level and not driven by the solution. You probably don’t need a Team or channel to have an ad-hoc informal chat with your colleagues, or to store some old documents for reference, but for that rich collaboration complete with apps and tabs, Teams is brilliant.

It’s also important to be aware of the limitations on channels, particularly when dealing with multiple private channels so you don’t end up waiting 30 days for the retention to expire on a deleted channel before you can create a new one.

In summary, sometimes less is more when planning Teams channels. However, Teams is a very flexible tool, and the logical structure of the Team should meet your organization’s needs without overcomplicating it.

Source Practical365

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Microsoft Teams

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks

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Teams + Power Automate = Automation awesomeness! With the new Teams connector (currently in preview), you can automate tasks with Power Automate and trigger events using Teams data. The Teams connector enables you to use in Logic Apps, Power Automate, and Power Apps.

Using flow with Teams

Power Automate can be used in these scenarios with Teams:

  • Trigger flows from Teams messages
  • List, run, describe flow from Power Automate bot
  • Use flows with adaptive cards
  • Create flows from within the Power Automate app in Teams

You can start with a blank flow or choose to create a new flow based on one of the popular Teams templates (Figure 1):

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 1: Power Automate popular Teams templates and Teams triggers and actions.

You can trigger a flow when keywords are mentioned in a chat or channel conversation and use actions to create a team, add a member to a team, and even create a basic team from a flow. Figure 2 shows some of the common triggers and actions available for the Teams connector:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 2: Microsoft Teams triggers and actions in Power Automate.

Teams apps: Power Automate & Approvals app

There are two apps available to add into Teams: the Power Automate app and the Approvals app.

  • Power Automate app: Automates Teams activities or connects to other apps and services using the Power Automate app in Teams. Create, manage, and edit Teams flows or All Flows directly within this app.
  • Approvals app: Send, receive, manage, and share approvals in directly within Teams.
Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 3: Power Automate app in Teams.

The Power Automate app in Teams has multiple tabs for different functions. The Home tab displays a list of all your Teams flows, and you can change the drop-down filter to display All flows:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 5: Power Automate app Home tab displaying All flows option in filter drop-down.

The Create tab displays an embedded page with a list of categorized templates (Figure 5). You can choose from to create a new flow from a template, or you can click on the + Create from blank button:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 5: Power Automate app in Teams Create tab page with categorized templates.

Adaptive Cards for Teams

Adaptive Cards are platform-agnostic user interface snippets of used within Power Automate to share blocks of information or to collect data. They are created in JSON format and transformed into the native UI the adaptive card is being rendered in. You can design your own Adaptive Card and use the card in flow actions to post to a Teams chat or channel, or as a Flow bot to a user. If you want to collect data from an Adaptive Card, you can use the action to post an Adaptive Card to Teams and wait for a response:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 6: Adaptive Card actions for the Microsoft Teams connector in Power Automate.

When I’m designing Adaptive Cards, I like to use the free online Adaptive Cards Designer so I can edit and preview the card before committing to its use.

READ MORE: Overview of Adaptive Cards for Microsoft Teams

Teams App Template: Request a Team

A few years ago, Microsoft launched App Templates for Microsoft Teams, a gallery of pre-built templates you can easily deploy for Teams. One of the most common app templates organizations have deployed is an app to allow end users to request the creation of a new team. The Request a Team template provides a way to implement a create team request approval/provisioning process through a wizard-guided request form, embedded approval process, request dashboard, and automated team builds.

The Request a Team app template consists of the following:

  • Power App: Surfaced in Teams with tabs and home screen.
  • SharePoint lists: Three lists used to store the data for the Team Request Settings, Teams Templates, and Teams Requests.
  • Microsoft Teams: A team for admins to approve team requests that get posted as Adaptive Cards from the flow.
  • Power Automate flows: Two flows. One flow triggered from a button in the Power App to check if the team name is available. Second flow is used for the approval process of the request that sends an adaptive card to Teams and saves the response in a SharePoint list.
  • Logic App: The Azure Logic App runs at a scheduled interval to read from the Teams Request SharePoint list and provisions a team for all requests that have been approved and not yet created. It sends an email to the requestor once the team is created.

When the app is deployed in your tenant, you can add the Request-a -team app as a tab in Teams:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 7: Add a tab dialog with the Request-a-team app available to select.

The Power App will default to the Request a team screen which gives the requester a choice to create a team from scratch or create from a template:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 8: Request-a-team Power App embedded in the team as a tab default screen.

The requester continues with the request through the wizard-guide and input all required fields in the app. On the Team information screen, they will provide a Team name and then click on the Check availability button which triggers the Check Team Availability flow that checks to see if the team name is available:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 9: Check availability button that triggers the Check Team Availability flow.

If the requester chooses to create a team from a template, they see a screen with a drop-down of templates to select. The template information is pulled from the data in the Teams Template SharePoint list:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 10: Select a template screen in the Power App that pulls from the Teams Templates SharePoint list.

The last screen of the wizard is the Review and submit screen, where the requestor can preview the information of their request and either go Back and make changes or click Submit to send the request:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 11: Review and submit screen with sample request.

The Submit button saves the data of the request to the Teams Requests SharePoint list.

When a new item is added to the SharePoint list, the Status defaults to Pending Approval and the Team Request Approval flow runs. The flow then posts an Adaptive Card to the target channel in the Request a Team Admins team and waits for the response for approval:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 12: Adaptive Card posted from the Team Request Approval flow in the team for admin approval.

The approver has buttons to Approve or Reject the request. When a button is selected the Add a comment box displays with a Submit button:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 13: Adaptive Card updated to show response submitted.
Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 14: Resource group with ProcessTeamsRequest Logic app used for provisioning the teams that have been requested and approved.
Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 15: ProcessTeamRequest Logic app with When an item is created or modified trigger to run on a schedule pulling from the Teams Requests SharePoint list.

When the logic app runs, it will read and process requests from the Teams Requests SharePoint list. It has steps to loop through and add owners and members (if requestor added members in the request) as well as check the template type of the request. The provisioning process takes around 5 minutes for each team it processes:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 16: ProcessTeamRequest Logic app steps for looping through members and owners values from the request in the SharePoint list.

Once the team has been provisioned, the logic app sends an email to the requestor letting them know the team has been created as shown:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 17: ProcessTeamRequest Logic app with When an item is created or modified trigger to run on a schedule pulling from the Teams Requests SharePoint list.

The team shows up in Teams for the owners and members with a welcome message posted from an action in the logic app:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 18: New team created by the logic app with welcome message that was posted from an action in the logic app.

Summary

I hope you enjoy my session at TEC on September 1st, as well as this companion article to help understand the integration with Teams and Power Automate. I encourage you to try out the Request a Team app template as well as many of the other Power Platform app template solutions available to download at https://aka.ms/TeamsAppTemplates. You can use the templates as is or modify any of them to fit your needs. Please note: if you encounter issues with the deployment please raise an issue in the GitHub repo.

Source Practical365

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Microsoft Teams

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks

217-08-23-2021-TEC-BLOG-Teams-Power-Automate-Practical-Examples-to-Automate-Tasks-1-340×200

Teams + Power Automate = Automation awesomeness! With the new Teams connector (currently in preview), you can automate tasks with Power Automate and trigger events using Teams data. The Teams connector enables you to use in Logic Apps, Power Automate, and Power Apps.

Using flow with Teams

Power Automate can be used in these scenarios with Teams:

  • Trigger flows from Teams messages
  • List, run, describe flow from Power Automate bot
  • Use flows with adaptive cards
  • Create flows from within the Power Automate app in Teams

You can start with a blank flow or choose to create a new flow based on one of the popular Teams templates (Figure 1):

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 1: Power Automate popular Teams templates and Teams triggers and actions.

You can trigger a flow when keywords are mentioned in a chat or channel conversation and use actions to create a team, add a member to a team, and even create a basic team from a flow. Figure 2 shows some of the common triggers and actions available for the Teams connector:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 2: Microsoft Teams triggers and actions in Power Automate.

Teams apps: Power Automate & Approvals app

There are two apps available to add into Teams: the Power Automate app and the Approvals app.

  • Power Automate app: Automates Teams activities or connects to other apps and services using the Power Automate app in Teams. Create, manage, and edit Teams flows or All Flows directly within this app.
  • Approvals app: Send, receive, manage, and share approvals in directly within Teams.
Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 3: Power Automate app in Teams.

The Power Automate app in Teams has multiple tabs for different functions. The Home tab displays a list of all your Teams flows, and you can change the drop-down filter to display All flows:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 5: Power Automate app Home tab displaying All flows option in filter drop-down.

The Create tab displays an embedded page with a list of categorized templates (Figure 5). You can choose from to create a new flow from a template, or you can click on the + Create from blank button:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 5: Power Automate app in Teams Create tab page with categorized templates.

Adaptive Cards for Teams

Adaptive Cards are platform-agnostic user interface snippets of used within Power Automate to share blocks of information or to collect data. They are created in JSON format and transformed into the native UI the adaptive card is being rendered in. You can design your own Adaptive Card and use the card in flow actions to post to a Teams chat or channel, or as a Flow bot to a user. If you want to collect data from an Adaptive Card, you can use the action to post an Adaptive Card to Teams and wait for a response:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 6: Adaptive Card actions for the Microsoft Teams connector in Power Automate.

When I’m designing Adaptive Cards, I like to use the free online Adaptive Cards Designer so I can edit and preview the card before committing to its use.

READ MORE: Overview of Adaptive Cards for Microsoft Teams

Teams App Template: Request a Team

A few years ago, Microsoft launched App Templates for Microsoft Teams, a gallery of pre-built templates you can easily deploy for Teams. One of the most common app templates organizations have deployed is an app to allow end users to request the creation of a new team. The Request a Team template provides a way to implement a create team request approval/provisioning process through a wizard-guided request form, embedded approval process, request dashboard, and automated team builds.

The Request a Team app template consists of the following:

  • Power App: Surfaced in Teams with tabs and home screen.
  • SharePoint lists: Three lists used to store the data for the Team Request Settings, Teams Templates, and Teams Requests.
  • Microsoft Teams: A team for admins to approve team requests that get posted as Adaptive Cards from the flow.
  • Power Automate flows: Two flows. One flow triggered from a button in the Power App to check if the team name is available. Second flow is used for the approval process of the request that sends an adaptive card to Teams and saves the response in a SharePoint list.
  • Logic App: The Azure Logic App runs at a scheduled interval to read from the Teams Request SharePoint list and provisions a team for all requests that have been approved and not yet created. It sends an email to the requestor once the team is created.

When the app is deployed in your tenant, you can add the Request-a -team app as a tab in Teams:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 7: Add a tab dialog with the Request-a-team app available to select.

The Power App will default to the Request a team screen which gives the requester a choice to create a team from scratch or create from a template:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 8: Request-a-team Power App embedded in the team as a tab default screen.

The requester continues with the request through the wizard-guide and input all required fields in the app. On the Team information screen, they will provide a Team name and then click on the Check availability button which triggers the Check Team Availability flow that checks to see if the team name is available:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 9: Check availability button that triggers the Check Team Availability flow.

If the requester chooses to create a team from a template, they see a screen with a drop-down of templates to select. The template information is pulled from the data in the Teams Template SharePoint list:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 10: Select a template screen in the Power App that pulls from the Teams Templates SharePoint list.

The last screen of the wizard is the Review and submit screen, where the requestor can preview the information of their request and either go Back and make changes or click Submit to send the request:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 11: Review and submit screen with sample request.

The Submit button saves the data of the request to the Teams Requests SharePoint list.

When a new item is added to the SharePoint list, the Status defaults to Pending Approval and the Team Request Approval flow runs. The flow then posts an Adaptive Card to the target channel in the Request a Team Admins team and waits for the response for approval:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 12: Adaptive Card posted from the Team Request Approval flow in the team for admin approval.

The approver has buttons to Approve or Reject the request. When a button is selected the Add a comment box displays with a Submit button:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 13: Adaptive Card updated to show response submitted.
Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 14: Resource group with ProcessTeamsRequest Logic app used for provisioning the teams that have been requested and approved.
Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 15: ProcessTeamRequest Logic app with When an item is created or modified trigger to run on a schedule pulling from the Teams Requests SharePoint list.

When the logic app runs, it will read and process requests from the Teams Requests SharePoint list. It has steps to loop through and add owners and members (if requestor added members in the request) as well as check the template type of the request. The provisioning process takes around 5 minutes for each team it processes:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 16: ProcessTeamRequest Logic app steps for looping through members and owners values from the request in the SharePoint list.

Once the team has been provisioned, the logic app sends an email to the requestor letting them know the team has been created as shown:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 17: ProcessTeamRequest Logic app with When an item is created or modified trigger to run on a schedule pulling from the Teams Requests SharePoint list.

The team shows up in Teams for the owners and members with a welcome message posted from an action in the logic app:

Teams + Power Automate: Practical Examples to Automate Tasks
Figure 18: New team created by the logic app with welcome message that was posted from an action in the logic app.

Summary

I hope you enjoy my session at TEC on September 1st, as well as this companion article to help understand the integration with Teams and Power Automate. I encourage you to try out the Request a Team app template as well as many of the other Power Platform app template solutions available to download at https://aka.ms/TeamsAppTemplates. You can use the templates as is or modify any of them to fit your needs. Please note: if you encounter issues with the deployment please raise an issue in the GitHub repo.

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Microsoft Teams

Teams Advanced Communications Add-on (Version 2) Ready to Go

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Another Tour of the Confusing World of Microsoft 365 Licensing

In April 2021, Microsoft announced their plans to add a Teams Pro service plan to existing Office 365 licenses. After confusing everyone, Microsoft quickly decided to rename the Teams Pro service plan to become Teams for Office 365 E3 (or whatever product you had, like Teams for Microsoft 365 Business Premium). The explanation was that the new name would align Teams with the various Office 365 and Microsoft 365 commercial licenses.

At the same time, Microsoft stayed silent about their plans for Teams Advanced Communications, an add-on they had launched at a hefty $12/month price tag in July 2020. A certain pandemic and customer pushback resulted in Microsoft rethinking its strategy for Teams Advanced Communications and many of the original features lined up for the add-on, like large meetings and support for Teams-based webinars, are now available in all Teams plans.

Everyone loves a trier and Microsoft has a track record of not getting things right the first time out, so we shouldn’t be surprised to learn that they’re preparing to relaunch the Teams Advanced Communications add-on. Revised documentation appeared online on August 19 to tell us what we can expect in terms of functionality. Microsoft hasn’t yet released pricing details.

Features in Teams Advanced Communications

The Advanced Communications features listed by Microsoft are:

  • The ability to customize the meeting pre-join screens by including a company logo in the pre-join and lobby screens. I’ve seen this used by Microsoft where the Microsoft logo appears in the pre-join screen where you select options like the device you want to use. It is Microsoft 365 roadmap item 79957.
  • Customized backgrounds for Together mode. You can create custom backgrounds into which presenters and attendees are placed when the organizer selects together mode. I’m sure some people will get very creative in the Teams Scene Studio to build interesting backgrounds. Or maybe they will restrict themselves to worthy scenes like the lobby or board room of a company HQ. This capability is described in MC258034 (July 30) and Microsoft 365 roadmap item 81123. I’m unsure whether the creators of the custom scenes or anyone who uses a custom together mode background needs a Teams Advanced Communications license. Given normal practice, it’s probably the latter.
  • Better monitoring and data analysis for user communications. Real-time telemetry is available to end users in meetings (MC265449, June 28) and Microsoft 365 roadmap item 70777 to help people understand network conditions which might affect successful participation in meetings. Again, no details are available what this capability might be, but it’s likely to extend the data collection and analysis across groups of users or an entire tenant.
  • Deploy custom Teams policy packages. You can edit and deploy the out-of-the-box Teams policy packages without an Advanced Communications license, but once you decide to build your own policy packages, those licenses are needed for each user which comes within the scope of a policy. I think this is a silly requirement and said so in my review of Teams policy packages.

To be fair, we need to wait for pricing information to decide if the capabilities licensed by Teams Advanced Communications license is worth the cost. To be truthful, I don’t see anything earthshattering in the list of capabilities described so far, but Microsoft might have some other features lined up. For instance, Microsoft has increased limits for attendance and length for live events until December 31, 2021. After that time, their current guidance is that the increased limits will only apply when organizers have Advanced Communication licenses.

We Definitely Won’t Include These Features in Other Teams Plans

Microsoft says that the Teams Advanced Communication add-on can be used with any Microsoft 365 or Office 365 plan. They also explicitly call out that the features covered will not appear in other plans (famous last words?) and can’t be purchased separately. If you want the capabilities, you need to purchase licenses. Unless your tenant is in the government clouds, in which case Advanced Communications isn’t available (yet).

The features are available in preview until December 31, 2021, after which Microsoft might enforce licensing. Given preview availability, it wouldn’t surprise me if Microsoft waited until the end of 2021 before deciding about pricing.

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Microsoft Teams

Teams Consumer Gets a New Boss Just in Time to Deliver Windows 11 Client

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New Leaders, New Drive

The news that Microsoft has hired Manik Gupta as the new leader for Teams Consumer and Skype wasn’t surprising. Teams consumer, or to use its other title, Teams for your personal life, has barely made a dent in consumer consciousness since its debut last year. Perhaps Gupta’s experience in apps will boost the capabilities of Teams consumer and make it more attractive to people who use apps like WhatsApp and Facebook to organize their personal lives.

New leaders often bring a mixture of focus and creativity that’s needed to move an organization forward, and that’s probably what Microsoft hopes for here. They did the same for Yammer some years ago when they hired Murali Sitaram to lead that product out of a deep dive. There’s been some good progress in Yammer since, largely hidden by the success Teams has had in the same period.

Teams and Windows 11

The next big thing for Teams consumer is its debut as a chat and calling client in Windows 11. According to Rish Tandon, Microsoft Corporate VP for Teams engineering, this will be the first iteration of a new Teams client (generation 2), moving away from the original and current Electron base to use the Edge WebView2 component and ReactJS. According to Tandon, the new architecture will allow Teams to add support for multiple accounts, reduce memory consumption by half, and speed performance.

Need to Wait for a New Enterprise Teams Client

However, this description is for the Teams consumer client, not its enterprise counterpart. I’ve seen some ill-informed commentary that a new Teams enterprise client will be available soon after Windows 11 ships which will deliver all the benefits of the new architecture. Sorry folks, that’s neither true nor realistic. The Teams consumer client is a pale shadow of the enterprise client. Microsoft must reengineer a bunch of enterprise-focused features to make sure that everything works smoothly on the new platform. The kind of thing I’m referring to includes:

  • Channels (regular, private, and public), including guest user access and external federation. In addition, there’s the channel management features like analytics, email integration, and archiving.
  • Teams Voice enterprise features like calling plans and integration with meeting room systems.
  • Teams meetings, including webinars, meeting recordings, transcription, and other resources (like forms used for polls in meetings).
  • Apps and connectors, including first-party apps like Yammer Communities, Viva Insights, Viva Learning, Stream, and Tasks (Planner). Plus, app setup policies and other enterprise controls and all the stuff which third-party developers depend on for apps like the Adobe Sign integration with the Teams Approvals app.
  • Offline access for messaging.
  • Making sure everything works well on Windows, Mac, and Linux (desktop and browser).

In short, there’s lots more involved in moving the Teams enterprise client to a new platform than there is to create a new chat and calling client to replace Skype in Windows 11. Microsoft has stayed tight-lipped on the delivery date for enterprise versions of the Teams desktop and browser clients based on the new architecture. I don’t expect to see this software released much before the end of Q1 CY2022. I could be wrong, but I suspect not. It just takes time to do software right.

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Microsoft Teams

How to Control Sending Email to Teams Channels

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Email Integration Allows Channels to Receive Email

By default, any channel in a team can receive email from any sender. Teams supports this capability by assigning email addresses to channels on an on-demand basis and using inbound email sent to create new conversations in the target channels. It all sounds good and works smoothly, and it’s there because many interesting ideas and suggestions surface in email first. Those involved in the discussion then have the choice to continue in email or take the debate to a suitable Teams channel where others can join the conversation, and everyone sees what’s going on.

Organization-level Control

If you’d prefer to impose some control over email communications to Teams, head for the Org-wide settings section of the Teams admin center and select Teams settings. The Email integration section (Figure 1) allows tenants to:

  • Disable or enable the ability of users to send email to channel email addresses. The default is On.
  • Create an accepted list of domains from where email can originate. The default is to accept email from any domain.
Email integration settings in the Teams admin center
Figure 1: Email integration settings in the Teams admin center

If your organization uses several domains, make sure to include all the domains used to send email in the list of accepted domains. Individual team owners cannot override the set of accepted domains defined for a tenant.

Updating with PowerShell

You can also update the settings with PowerShell by running the Set-CsTeamsClientConfiguration cmdlet from the Teams module. In this example, we update the settings to allow channels to receive email from a restricted list of three domains:

Note the use of semi-colons to separate the domain names rather than the commas specified in Microsoft’s documentation. In addition, do not leave spaces between the domain names. It can take an hour or so before the addition or removal of a domain from the list becomes effective.

Generating Email Address for Teams Channels

A channel email address is composed of an eight-character identifier, the name of the default email address policy (if the tenant has a special address policy for groups, the domain specified in that policy is used), and the Teams messaging domain which handles delivery to the channel. An example is:

1e2d0ee3.office365itpros.com@emea.teams.ms

In this instance, the emea.teams.ms domain tells us that the tenant is in the EMEA (Western Europe) datacenter region. Other values include na.teams.ms (North America) and apac.teams.ms (Asia Pacific).

You cannot change the name or format used for the identifier. Teams generates the value automatically the first time a team member from the tenant requests an email address for a channel, and one is not already present. Guest members can retrieve a channel email address if one exists, but they can’t generate a new address. Team members (except guests) can also remove the email address for a channel. If someone does, Teams generates a new address for the channel the next time a team member requests one.

The new channel email address will not be the same as the original, meaning that anything depending on that email address will cease to work and email senders will receive non-delivery notifications saying:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:

ce49a0c3.office365itpros.com@emea.teams.ms
This channel was not found, so we couldn’t send your message. If you have any questions, contact the team owner.

Teams captures audit records when team members generate or remove channel email addresses. Here’s an example of how to interrogate the audit log to find the relevant records. You can’t generate a report of Teams channels with email addresses using pure PowerShell, but you can with a combination of PowerShell and Graph API calls.

Routing Email to Channels

Email delivery to a Teams channel is more complicated than to a mailbox. Channel email addresses do not point to normal Exchange Online mailboxes. Microsoft manages these mailboxes, which are inaccessible to customers. Like other email addresses, the domains are resolvable in DNS. We can see from this output that messages sent to emea.team.ms go to protection.outlook.com, just like any other Exchange Online domain. In other words, the first step in their transfer is to have Exchange Online Protection process the messages.

The special target mailboxes act as a reception point for email sent to Teams. Connectors pick up the email delivered to the mailboxes and create new conversations in the target channel (Figure 2). In this example, the sender set the message importance to be High, so Teams flags the conversation as Important.

Reading an email as a conversation in a Teams channel
Figure 2: Reading an email as a conversation in a Teams channel

Note the way Teams uses the message subject as the conversation subject. If people forward messages to Teams channels, it’s a good idea to review the message subject before sending to make sure that the conversation has an appropriate and meaningful subject in the channel.

If you want the message to arrive in multiple channels, you must include the address for all the target channels in the message.

Teams imposes some rules on the kind of messages it will accept. In most cases, these restrictions won’t get in the way of users:

  • Messages can’t have more than 50 inline images or more than 20 file attachments.
  • No attachment can be larger than 10 MB.

Capturing Copies of Email in SharePoint Online

When Teams creates a new conversation, it also stores the copy of the original message in a subfolder of the channel folder in the SharePoint Online site belonging to the team (Figure 3). Up to February 2021, Teams used the EmailMessages subfolder. Now, Teams creates a separate subfolder monthly, which is why you see the messages in the EmailMessages_8_2021 (August 2021) folder.

Copies of email messages sent to a channel stored in SharePoint Online
Figure 3: Copies of email messages sent to a channel stored in SharePoint Online

If you want to access the original message, use the View original email option to download a copy of the .eml file. The .eml file is a faithful copy of the original, complete with headers showing the transfer of the message from the sending server to delivery for Teams.

Getting and Using Channel Email Addresses

To retrieve the address of a channel, use the Get email address option in the channel menu and then use the Copy button (Figure 4) to copy the email address to the clipboard. The user can then paste the address into email headers as needed. Note the dangerous option to remove the email address from the channel as discussed above.

How to Control Sending Email to Teams Channels
Figure 4: Retrieving the email address for a channel

Figure 5 shows the advanced settings view, which includes the email address (and a display name composed from the channel name and the team name). We can also see any limitations set on email delivery. A team owner can choose to limit acceptance to email sent by team members. Otherwise, Teams will accept email from any email address and deliver it to the channel (even to private channels) if the sender complies with the restricted domain list configured for the tenant.

Advanced settings for a channel email address
Figure 5: Advanced settings for a channel email address

If delivery is restricted to a channel and the sender is not a team member or from an accepted domain, they receive a message from Teams with the following:

Delivery has failed to these recipients or groups:

1e2d0eb3.office365itpros.com@emea.teams.ms
The administrator has restricted permissions to send emails to this channel.

Using Channel Email Addresses in Distribution Lists and Groups

Obviously, people can use the channel email address to address a message on an ad-hoc basis. For more persistent use, you can create a mail contact for the channel address. This approach has the advantages of making the address readily available to all users through the GAL and allowing the channel to be a member of a distribution list. Microsoft’s support documentation for sending email to a channel calls out using a channel address as part of a distribution list. I have never had an issue when using a channel email address for a mail contact and adding the mail contact to distribution lists.

If you want to have the channel in a Microsoft 365 group, you can use the channel address to create a guest account in Azure AD and include the guest account in the group membership. I use this technique to capture copies of all messages sent to a Microsoft 365 group in a team channel.

Keeping Ideas Flowing

The Email Integration capability in Teams allow users to send messages to channels to create new conversation threads as easily as sending email to any other recipient. It’s a nice feature to have and something that people who split their work communications between email and Teams will find useful, once they know how to use the technology. Isn’t that always the way?

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Business TechnologyMicrosoft Teams

The Practical 365 Update: S2, Ep 24 – Skype Retires (or does it?), Windows 365 pricing & Teams 2.0 surprises us – plus MVP Ingo Gegenwarth talks managing Exchange Online at scale

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The Skype for Business Online service has retired

First up on the show this week we discuss how Skype for Business finally received it’s gold watch, picked up it’s belongings and waved goodbye to Microsoft 365.

Or has it? Well it has indeed past the the retirement date but many scheduled dates for final retirement are in mid August, so if you think you are already fully Teams-only but didn’t do it yourself – check the Message Center and check the Teams Admin Center to validate you are actually fully Teams only. You may find you aren’t yet and this is your last call to double check all users are happily over on Microsoft Teams before Microsoft remove the capability.

Read more from Stale on Practical 365: Skype for Business Online is retiring – What does it mean? (practical365.com)

Windows 365 is available for you to buy or try right now

On August 2nd, Microsoft launched Windows 365 and if you haven’t already, then it is worth giving it a test drive. We discussed it’s virtues on the last episode, but this time we talk pricing. How much will you need to spend to get a good experience with Microsoft Teams?

Announcing the general availability of Windows 365 – Microsoft Tech Community

Windows 365 pricing: scorecard – Out of Office Hours (oofhours.com)

Teams v2.0 Rolls Out to Windows 11

On the podcast we joked Teams is driving up the cost of Windows 365 – but any conspiracy theory will be short lived once you see Teams v2.0. It arrived in the Windows 11 Insider builds last week, and is only for use with the consumer version of Teams right now, but it is the codebase that will be the Business and Enterprise version eventually, using the new WebView2 model.

During the show, Teams was consuming around a gigabyte of RAM (and wasn’t even being used) whilst when using the Teams v2.0 client memory usage was 72MB – on par with Skype for Business. During the week I’ve seen it use just over 100MB RAM and the screenshot below (taken during writing this article, with the client open) was only 7MB at one point:

A screenshot of Windows Task Manager showing Microsoft Teams using 497.5MB compared to Microsoft Teams (Preview) using 7.7MB
The current version of Teams consuming nearly 500MB with Teams 2.0 consuming less than 10MB while open and active

In reality, it’s possible to make it use more – a bit of pushing the client raises the utilisation up to 202MB in total, and it can spawn WebView2 processes as well – but it’s pretty positive compared the existing client.

A screenshot of Windows Task Manager showing the memory usage of 202.9MB of Microsoft Teams (Preview)
Being pushed a little, Teams v2.0 can take up more RAM with around 202MB in use in this example

OneNote – One version to rule them all?

We’ve been here before – but is it the same thing this time around? In the battle of confusing different OneNote apps that both want you to love them, only one won it out. The version of OneNote that comes as part of Office (sorry, Microsoft 365 apps) on Windows is the one most people really like, but several Microsoft decided the UWP Windows 10 version would be the one they invested in for the future, even planning to take OneNote out of Office at one point.

In the end though, Microsoft did decide to continue developing OneNote as part of Office, and it is this version – not the Windows 10 version that appears to be the one that will be the only one going forward.

What’s Coming to OneNote – Microsoft Tech Community

Microsoft MVP and MCM, Ingo Gegenwarth joins us to talk about managing Exchange Online at scale

Keep your eyes on the site next week for Ingo’s article on this topic, because I’ve had a sneak preview and it is worthwhile reading, as is his session at TEC 2021. Ingo manages Exchange Online for a very large, well known company, and tells us what’s involved in day-to-day admin of Exchange at that scale. I’ve known Ingo for quite a few years and know that he managed the equivalent on-premises Exchange environment too, so it’s interesting to hear how that compares. It’s certainly not the same as outsourcing.

We chat about the challenges of pulling information out of Exchange Online for scripting and reporting – and how the Exchange Online PowerShell Module V2 (install it via Microsoft 365 Administration Portals and PowerShell Connections) improves performance compared to older modules, when using new Microsoft Graph-based cmdlets; and then how to go even further when improving script performance by using Graph directly. Finally for Exchange admins, Ingo talks about how Graph and PowerShell skills can make you more valuable as the skills can be re-used across Microsoft 365.,

Roadmap and Rolling out

On the roadmap and in the message center this week, we talk about several key new features that will be arriving soon:

Microsoft Teams: Content from camera

We talk about the content camera – a.k.a. the magic whiteboard available in Teams Rooms and how it is coming to the PC client. This means with a second webcam, pointed at a whiteboard you’ll be able to bring this into your meeting without an expensive room system. Paul in particular is excited about this.

“Content from camera” in Teams enables you to share content from physical artefacts such as whiteboards and documents in a high quality and legible way during meetings. All you need is a laptop or PC with an in-built camera or with an attached USB camera. Educators can also share content directly from a document camera.”

Teams Meetings to Auto-Expire

And we know that people don’t remove data they don’t need – Teams meetings recordings being an excellent example. Although you can change the policy to stop this happening – and it won’t affect files held for compliance reasons – this will help ensure people don’t waste storage by simply leaving meeting recordings to wither away, long dead in their OneDrive for Business document library, or worse, SharePoint Online.

“Newly created Teams meeting recordings in OneDrive and SharePoint will be automatically deleted by the service based on a default Teams policy setting. Teams Admins will be able to modify the default meeting recording expiration time via a setting in the Teams Admin Portal or by modifying policy attributes using Powershell scripts. Newly created meeting recordings in OneDrive & SharePoint will be automatically deleted after this point unless the meeting owner extends the expiration.  Meeting owners will be notified about expired recordings and may extend the expiration date in OneDrive/SharePoint. Compliance policies will override the expiration setting.”

Both planned for September CY2021

Releasing Fluid live components in Teams chat

Particularly interesting to me is the new fluid live components arriving in Microsoft Teams, and as soon as I have my hands on them in a production tenant, I’ll be recording a video to show you how it works, and when to use it.

I’m most excited for the capability in meetings and chats to avoid needing to have a separate document, OneNote, Wiki or worksheet to collect agenda items or have one person note them down and have to paste them into the chat. Now you’ll be able to create a single, live table, agenda or similar list and everyone can edit it during the chat or meeting. It is stored as a .fluid file and therefore follows OneDrive and SharePoint retention and compliance rules.

Tony Redmond explores live components in more detail: Teams Chat Becomes Fluid (or Lively) (practical365.com)

New Side-by-side and Reporter Presenter modes with desktop and window sharing

And finally Teams rolls out new presenter modes – side-by-side and reporter views. These are long-awaited and in my view, look more professional than standout view, which often obscures the screen.

Read more about these (from when they were announced in March) in my article here: Teams Meeting Improvements to Make Presenters Look Smarter (practical365.com)

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