Stream, or should I now say Stream on SharePoint? The last time I wrote on it was about the web app at stream.office.com which has now been available for some time. Since then, Mark Mroz and the team have been working on migration tools. They have also been working on the player and a ton of other things. Now, going back to that old marketing pitch, the point of Stream v2.0 was all about Stream becoming the video player for the whole Microsoft 365 ecosystem, as opposed to an app with it's own dedicated storage. I don't mind admitting I'm still kinda gutted about this because genuinely I thought the former experience was really really good whilst I also really felt for the team given they had to ice it and pivot to which I can only imagine the amount of pain involved. But I am endeavoring to be onboard with the new, and so when using Stream in my demo tenant a few days ago I saw that chapters had dropped. Chapters, which break up a video into sections and let you easily rewatch different parts, is one of the functionalities that the old version didn't have and the kind of functionality which feels good. It's part of a nice incremental development cadence which seems really well planned, so kudos again to the team
So a few weeks back I did a piece on the Teams Keyword trigger in Power Automate and how it can be used to build a command list for repetitive communications which could be used to cut down on workload. I've started using this myself. But also, I have started using keywords to pull info I need within the flow of my work. This includes RSS Feeds and Videos off YouTube. There are, of course, other ways you can get these things. One example for RSS Feeds is connectors. However, I don't want to necessarily have an RSS Feed repeatedly pull into a channel. I only want it when I need it as in ad-hoc, on demand. Whether we want the latest updates to the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, or the latest video on a YouTube channel, keywords pull that information and we can get it as we need
Most recently - mainly the last six months or so since Covid - I feel that I like I have kinda pinballed around in the Teams ecosystem having no real sense of focus. Life is busy. Work is busy. I have been up to my eyeballs in Azure Plan, the New Commerce Experience (NCE), CloudBlue Connect, Catalogues, Packaging, JTA's, writing new courses. Teams Nation. The latest project - or should I say the latest shipped in an ever spinning batch of projects - has been expanding operations and edu out into the MENA region. All fun. All for the greater good! Yet I'll be the first to admit that I've taken a bit of a hit on the community end. I haven't talked so much this year. I haven't blogged or done social as consistently. I've sloped off a few things like the Microsoft Tech Community. I'm well aware of it - and as a marathon compared to a sprint it'll no doubt self adjust and correct given time. But also I find I am in one of those periods when I am genuinely in a quandary about what to focus on given there is just so much exciting stuff out there at the moment. I am really interested in learning more on KQL and doing more in Azure. I am doing loads and want to do more with Power Automate. Same with Compliance. Same with Azure AD and Identity. With Teams? I've always been one for the little things. Sure, I may get around to the fanfare and hoopla that is Shared Channels, but whilst I could say that twenty MVP's have already done this, it's the little vital things that delight me. And so after discussing a range of, I guess, niche subjects the last few weeks, like hiding file sync, and disabling shortcut to OneDrive, and the ability to trigger flows with keywords, and audio conferencing, and app setup for messaging extensions, I am going to talk about enforcing comments in the approvals app. Yes, I wanted this. I wanted this bad. Because generally speaking I have never really liked blind approvals. I like context. I like to give context. This will be a short one because really it's an awareness piece as much as being a technical blog.
Good old audio conferencing. It's a subject I often feel bad about as it gets quite a bit of stick where I'm from. You may be familiar with how the conversation goes. Audio conferencing? That's just so old - why would you dial in when you can just do it over VOIP? Well, there are several reasons. Internet Connectivity could be limited. The call quality may actually be better since you are only using audio. And if you are like me a.) Video calls - lots of them - wear thin pretty quick and b.) I sometimes like to just listen and focus on what people are saying, and not see people and not discuss things like backgrounds which probably haven't been reviewed before being uploaded to Teams without any video filters applied. To be honest AC - for me personally - is having a bit of a renaissance - and so it was nice to see this new add by the team in the way of audio conferencing policy. Now, this isn't a policy which ties in all the AC user settings, or even the bridge settings: these remain where they are. AC policies manage audio conferencing toll and toll-free numbers displayed in meeting invites created by users. In layman's it's customisation and personalization of the dial-ins within the meeting invite, surfacing numbers to make it easier to dial in. There is value in having a cleaner, more accessible AC dial in setup on invites - one without users having to necessarily find local numbers, or one that's more than just generic cities; more personalized to the businesses one deals with as you will. So let's build one for a user in our organisation with some dedicated toll numbers. It'll be a laugh - but we'll also get to use some new functionality