I've been away from the community for what feels like a long time. Of course, I say a long time but in reality its only really been a month. On Monday 23rd August I woke up as I usually do around 7am feeling completely out of sorts; and two days later having taking two lateral flow tests and spending most of the previous 48 hours in bed both of them confirmed what I was anticipating. I had contracted Covid-19. Since returning to work last week a few people have asked what my experience was like. By experience they mean what was it like to get a severe case of Covid-19 and be hospitalized by the disease? How bad was it? Because after all its been well documented that you can have Covid-19 and not experience any symptoms at all. On the other hand I am sure most of us are aware of the huge number of global deaths resulting from this disease since the pandemic began. John Hopkins shows it being well on it's way to about 5 million people
Last week I was in a bit of a funk. I just couldn't think of something to write about Teams. I mean, sure, at this point I've pretty much been writing about Teams weekly for over two years so it's probably not a surprise that the well runs dry occasionally. But there's also times where subject matter for blogs simply spring out of thin air. This was one. I was doing something like making my son's sandwich in the kitchen for lunch last Monday and there it was. You see the thing about me is I don't plan blogs. I don't have a list or an excel on my machine indexing what I am going to write about over the course of next few months. I'm much more clandestine and transactional. Basically I sit down and make something up on the spot, or if my memory is working as it should be take something I have thought about during the week and go with that. Sometimes it's easy. Sometimes I absolutely stitch myself up if the subject matter ends up being long. Overall? It kind of works out. So this week the thought was on Teams items in Secure Score. Secure Score is concerned with the measurement of an organization's security posture; a higher number indicating more improvement actions taken. In other words, the higher score you get, the more secure you should be through actions you have taken in your Microsoft 365 tenant such as enabling MFA or disabling legacy auth. Some people love it and see it as a great assessment tool which provides quantifiable measurements which can be used for continuous improvement and managed services. The more skeptical amongst us have viewed it as a way to work up the SKU's especially in the early days when you couldn't reach high scores without purchasing things like E5 or Azure AD P2 licences. Throughout 2021 (I had to look this up to confirm the dates), Teams was added as a new category in Secure Score and 6 items fell into this category. 1 in January, and 5 recently in July. All are to do with securing meetings. Let's go take a look at these six and how to implement each of them. Let's go get you 100% on Teams items in Secure Score. The completionist in me is looking forward to this one
It's kind of a weird time. A bit of a dry summer if you will. There hasn't been a lot of conferences on or events. I haven't written tons of blogs; mainly because there hasn't been a great deal of major change when it comes to Teams the last few months. And whilst I've tried to keep things ticking over with a few user groups and a session at the Microsoft Reactor, I'm very much looking forward to things picking back up again in the Autumn. I'll be at Commsverse. I'll be at South Coast Summit too. There are several other events I may be at. But let's see. I was saying to Vesku [Nopanen] we certainly all need a break given how crazy 2021 has been - we probably managed to stuff enough into H1 to compare to the whole of 2020: yet at the same time you always get the sense of wanting to be back out there and doing more. So this week the subject is, I guess, a bit of a filler - but it's a legitimate ask and something I was asked this week by someone in my org. You yourselves may get asked at some point in the future. Why is Freehand by InVision visible in Teams Meetings? How can I get rid of it? Good news - there are ways and we can certainly do that. Can you as a user get rid of it by yourself? No. And there's a bigger issue for you, the admin, than you realise. Why? Because Microsoft already have a Whiteboard app. Freehand by InVision is a third party app. What's the problem with this? Users may get confused and when asked to use the Whiteboard they may end up using the wrong one, signing up for the third party app and then having company data stored in third party storage. You know, before the new meeting experience in Teams rolled out, people always asked why InVision was there and why Microsoft seemed to prioritise this specific app over others. If my memory serves me correctly it was in Teams before Microsoft's own. However, with the ability to add apps to Teams Meetings due to meeting extensibility you would think it would be there not on the sharing screen, visible, by default. Now don't get me wrong - this blog isn't beating up on Freehand by InVision. Personally I have used it and I think it's a solid app. However, this isn't about whether an app is good or not. It's about ensuring an easy and straightforward meeting experience for users who may not be as tech savvy as you. It is about compliance and it's about users like me who if you never use something, and are likely never going to, why is it there at all?
It was a good week last week. Why? Because I finally made it back to the Tech Community (Tech) after a long absence. One I hadn't planned. But 2021's been that kind of year hasn't it. Work, speaking, blogging, user groups, Ignite, MVP Summit, MCT Summit. Build, TeamsNation. You name it. Boom. And with Tech it was simply a case that it just piled up and aggregated to the point I couldn't contain it given commitments which took precedence. Like an oil spill in the sea. You see, when you have been in the forums for eighteen to two and are involved in a few thousand threads at that point you have to actively manage it: three weeks ago my mailbox had over 2700 emails to work through because of, well - you know, boom. Now it's true I could have simply gone on and iced them all out the mailbox. But people need help, and I'll be the first to admit I grew frustrated at times not being able to get back and help as much as I used to. Still, what I did learn throughout this period was this - ringfence time for it; and no matter how far I go or where I end up in this community Tech will always be something I do as long as it exists and I am active. Somebody asked me once why do I still do it now that I'm an MVP as if once I was awarded I'd simply blow it out and move onto 'better things'. The reason is this: it's not from some sense that I owe a debt to Tech because whilst it did lead directly to my award my stats will show I've very much paid that back then some. No, the truth is I just simply enjoy it. It's transactional. It's working stuff out. It's learning new stuff whilst helping others. Its good for blowing off some steam, like doing reps on the old barbells or lengths in a swimming pool, or sudoku. And getting back to the old stomping ground I actually discovered something new about Teams this week which is the basis for this blog. Someone asked if I knew where the registration information was for Teams Webinars based on a docs.com article which referenced it as MySite. They couldn't find it. I did. And finding leads to some very interesting implications of what can be done with webinars moving forward. Let's take a look.
There is a conversation which crops up in the MVP community from time to time; and one which everyone seems to have an opinion on. This is as follows - should Microsoft release functionality which is only configurable via PowerShell and not supported in the Teams Admin Centre (TAC) or via API. One good example of this was the ability to control custom backgrounds for Teams users. TAC support later came out which I covered in this post, yet many argued that TAC integration ought to have been something included from the start as it excluded admins which didn't have the experience, didn't have the permissions or didn't want to do it via PowerShell. On the other hand, others would say that as a Teams Admin a working knowledge of PowerShell should be a prerequisite for the role. Where do you stand? I guess one of the upsides of this long running series is that it's all about doing, so I don't really have to get into a philosophical debate about it: it's isn't Plato's symposium this is just how it can be done. Yet methodology is important to a lot of people, and I guess if I had to decide I would be split because from my perspective everything is driven by pragmatism - what I were trying to achieve - and inclusion, which means I would use both because both have their merits and reach a wider audience. That's what this blog concerns today. After browsing the TAC this morning in my Ring 4 GA demo tenant there seems to be a few noteworthy adds. That's good for us we have more options. I was going to do the blog this weekend purely on the new PSTN Service Desk Support but thought nah it would be cheap trying to make two blogs out of it so here they are all together amalgamated under TAC Adds. Have fun!