Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 Updates - March Edition

In our monthly blog about the latest enhancements to SharePoint and Microsoft, we're here to fill you in on what's around the corner. Discover the upcoming features that could change the way you work.

Welcome to the March edition of our Microsoft 365 update. We're diving into the latest announcements, releases and updates across Microsoft 365 and SharePoint, with our insights coming straight from the Microsoft 365 Roadmap.

We've cherry-picked our favourite updates to give you a sneak peek into what's coming next, all explained in a way that’s straightforward and easy to understand, cutting through the tech speak.

Let's dive in and explore what's on the horizon.


SharePoint Online

New SharePoint section backgrounds for Pages and News

SharePoint Online is set to enhance its Pages and News sections with a vibrant visual upgrade! Content authors will soon have the opportunity to personalise their section content with curated images or gradient colour backgrounds, adding more design flair and making site pages and news stand out even more.

Microsoft is adding the option to include a background image, complemented by a transparent layer. This feature allows for the customisation of the overlay's colour and opacity. It's designed to ensure the background image enhances the page's content or web parts, rather than detracting from them, also aligning to accessibility best practices.

Image Source: Microsoft

The initial rollout will include gradient colour options and curated Microsoft-designed images. Following this, in the second release, we'll have the option to use our own custom images for background sections.  

Expected Availability
Due early to mid-April 2024.  

Microsoft 365

Copilot is now available

Copilot has arrived in the Microsoft 365 suite, introducing an era of AI assistance to change how we work. Picture an AI assistant that not only chats with you but also creates content, answers questions and works seamlessly with Microsoft 365 apps like Word, PowerPoint and Excel.  

Copilot is the integrated AI tool in Microsoft 365 for tasks like writing documents and emails, summarising meetings, finding information and generating insights. You can use it anywhere with your work account, chatting in everyday language to get help.

As we move towards AI-driven work, Copilot's initial public release is only the beginning.

And great news for businesses: the 300-seat minimum requirement has been removed. Now, Microsoft 365 Business Standard and Premium users can access Copilot for $30 per month via the Admin Centre or through Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider partners.


Microsoft 365

The app launcher is getting a makeover

A change you'll soon notice in your Microsoft 365 interface is that the app launcher is getting a makeover and some new features. It will look more modern and make it easier for you to find and use all your favourite Microsoft 365 apps like Word, Excel and Outlook.  

You'll be able to quickly find apps with a new search feature, and everything will be in the same order for everyone.

Image Source: Microsoft

There will also be a handy way to quickly create new documents or projects with just one click, in addition to removing the section that showed recently used documents.

Expected Availability
Due early April to late June 2024.

Microsoft Teams

The New Planner App coming to Microsoft Teams

The app known as "Tasks by Planner and To Do" within Microsoft Teams is going to be replaced with a new app called Planner. This change means you'll start seeing the new Planner app instead of the old one, but you won't lose any of the features you're used to. In fact, you'll get some extra benefits and features.

Microsoft is taking the best bits of Microsoft To Do, Planner, Microsoft Project, and even adding some smart help from Microsoft Co-pilot, all to make a super handy tool for managing work, whether it's just for you or for bigger cross-functional projects.

Image Source: Microsoft

Users can look forward to an automatic update to Planner, complete with a familiar icon and a suite of new tools designed to accommodate everything from individual tasks to large-scale project management.

Expected Availability
Due late March to early May 2024.


Microsoft Teams

Hide the General channel in Microsoft Teams

Pretty soon, you'll get the ability to make the General channel in Microsoft Teams disappear, treating it the same as any other channel. If it's the only channel in your team, hiding it will also remove the team from view.

It's a small enhancement, but handy for some, especially for those looking to declutter their Teams interface and focus on channels that relate to their day-to-day workflow or projects.

Expected Availability
Between mid-February and mid-March 2024.

Microsoft Teams

Custom avatars for group chats

Soon, you'll be able to personalise group chats with custom avatars - the small circular images next to chat names. Group chat participants can either upload a unique image or select from predefined images or emojis.  

Image Source: Microsoft

This enhancement aims to make it easier to differentiate between chats, especially when they have similar names or involve similar groups of people.

Expected Availability
Due mid to late March 2024.

Microsoft Lists

A new forms experience is coming  

Soon, Microsoft Lists in SharePoint Online will look and work better than ever. It's getting a new design that's not only easy on the eyes but also simple to use. You'll be able to make and share forms that people can fill out on any device and as soon as someone submits their form, you'll see their answers in your list right away.  

This update is something many have been waiting for, especially if you use Microsoft Lists every day for work.

Image Source: Microsoft

Also coming is a handy feature for those who manage these lists. You'll soon be able to whip up custom forms in no time, making it super easy to collect the info you need without showing everyone your entire list.  

Users filling out these forms will have an easy time too, and once they submit their responses, your list will update automatically with their new information.

Expected Availability
Between mid-March and late April 2024.

Outlook

Meeting organisers will be able to request in-person attendance  

For Outlook users, a new feature is set to make meeting organisation more flexible in the evolving world of hybrid work. The new update for Outlook Online and the new Outlook for Windows allows meeting organisers to clearly request in-person attendance through a new toggle, offering attendees the flexibility to confirm whether they'll join in person or virtually.

Image Source: Microsoft

Aimed at simplifying the coordination of hybrid meetings, this feature maintains the existing RSVP process for fully virtual events, ensuring a seamless experience for all users.

Expected Availability
Due late March to mid-April 2024.


That’s a wrap!

Congratulations, you're up to date. That's it for our latest updates on Microsoft 365 and SharePoint! If you enjoyed this edition, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter below for news and insights straight to your inbox.

Any questions or feedback, don't hesitate to get in touch. We're here to help.

Thanks for reading, and see you next month.

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