I got back on the circuit this week: aMS Germany and Power Platform French Summit bookending a delivery of Microsoft 365 Fundamentals: so all in all I've had little time to really sit down and think about what to write - but then every once in a while a good turn of fortune occurs, and this week I found out that Lists now supports tel: which is something I have wanted to see ever since I wrote about hyperlinked email addresses. You see, launching a PSTN call from a list makes a lot of sense: namely because people and lists go hand in hand. A list of staff members. A list of potential recruits. A list of vendors. And the thing is, Teams as we know it has never really had a proper communal phone book has it? One that all members of staff can share. You know, I am not talking about some all singing, all dancing, aesthetically mind-blowing app. I am talking about basic no frills does what it says on the tin. I want a list of people, to be able to be searched by a team, and then can call on the spot. One or two clicks then go. Well, now we can all because Lists supports tel://.
It's been such a crazy week! But with a slither of room to breathe I took time to look at Vesa Nopanen's blog on loop components this morning and decided I wanted to have a bit of a play. You see, Vesa is one of my best mates in IT and we practically talk every day. We organize Teams Nation together. We speak on the circuit together. We have a lot of the same thoughts and interests in the same kind of areas. So this blog really is a follow up to his. I am not going to retrace his steps in this piece, but I am going to start out from where loop components are stored, which is OneDrive. Now, the fact that it is stored in OneDrive makes sense because the loop components in Teams are only available on private chats. This makes me think that when loop components emerge for channels, the .fluid file will be housed in SharePoint. This would be consistent with Teams Meeting Recordings. Yet the fact that they are housed in OneDrive means that we can start using flows and automation with them. That's right. Let's create some flows with loop components, or to coin a portmanteau, let's go 'flooping'. This is a completely experimental blog and there's probably going to be loads of roadblocks. But let's see a few things we can come up with. Just for fun. I'll bet you by the time I have got to the end of this I would have built a flow right to the very end and it didn't work on the very last action.
Ok! It was back to teaching this week. First up? Microsoft Teams Phone Essentials. I had spent the previous week facelifting the course; aligning it to Microsoft's new branding of Teams Phone for the calling workload. But then Ignite came along. And so I had to facelift it again with all of the awesome news which dropped: native contact centre, SIP gateway, workspace management and the device dashboard. It really is awesome. True - after all these years it still hasn't got 100% of the old Skype for Business features and yes, still no sign of native compliant call recording and smaller SKU's. But the news last week, together with the news that comms credits will run through an Azure subscription, is all pointing in the direction we are looking. For those who worked with OCS, Lync and SfB these are the kinds of things we always wanted to see. Now, setup for the labs for courses are always opportunities to spot features in preview or GA and this week I spotted a few which were ripe to send to the blog. First, we now have the ability to now opt in to using OneDrive to store Whiteboard. Microsoft Whiteboard is being rebuilt on top of OneDrive for Business and this will become the default starting in January 2022. We can opt the whole tenant in. However, there is an important caveat to know. We are now also seeing the View Switcher in meetings, the ability to switch seamlessly between modes such as between the gallery and together mode and focus mode. This is ideal insofar that we don't have to drill down through the control bar where we may, for example, accidently stop recording or turn off live captions if we are in a rush. Needless to say; the introduction and release of functionality for Teams remain relentless. Announcements and roadmap is all very exciting - but so is getting hands on with the functionality when it drops.
The TV is on. The Euro 2020 finals between England and Italy has just kicked off. But Sunday nights are blog nights: and so trying to get the best of both worlds I will be writing a short blog about a granular but useful addition to functionality which came along for the approvals app this week. This is the ability to use generic links. Up until this point, we've had the ability to upload documents from a local machine; we've had the ability to add a document from OneDrive. But nothing regarding SharePoint; nothing about something other than a document. Now, we know that support for SharePoint - here meaning a dedicated option within the approvals app along with a site and file picker, is on its way. This is within the item on the Microsoft 365 roadmap - RID 70787. However, being able to use a generic link we don't have to wait for that. Indeed, generic links are really flexible insofar that we can start to review and approve anything which has a URL. This opens up some interesting scenarios
given that I pretty much liked everything about Stream: the web experience, the mobile experience. Both were easy to use and did what it said on the tin. It had started to have great features like trim and screen capture. It could be brought into Teams in a number of ways - and kudos has to go to the Stream Team for how hard they must of worked on it; creating a strong app which was really taking off and really focused bringing out the best in video. However, on the other hand whilst recognising all of this; pivoting made a lot of sense. There was a growing amount of noise and frustration from the tech community about not being able to share video externally, about not being able to apply common compliance functionality such as retention. Since Stream had it's own completely separate storage many things had to be developed separately. Whilst I know there was plans to do this - ones which were very near to completion since I was involved in roundtables previewing the functionality; in a world where apps like Microsoft Lists were being designed to work right across the stack leveraging existing storage on SharePoint and OneDrive and existing security and compliance functionality; Stream felt outside of that almost moving in the opposite direction. So 'bringing it into the Microsoft 365 stack', the idea that a video 'is a file just like any other file' won out. And what did that mean? Stream 2.0 would pivot to become the player across the Microsoft 365 stack. SharePoint and OneDrive would house video files. There would be a new personal web app, a new player and video 'portals' which could be created on SharePoint. Now, in the time between Ignite 2020 and now much has focused on things such as recordings, changing the default location to SharePoint and OneDrive and CDN support. We know that the new player is coming soon due to it hitting the message centre. However not much has come out officially about the web portal and when we can start using it. Tonight, out of sheer curiosity I had a go at amending an URL since this worked previously for Lists via OneDrive. The new Stream portal is already there. This wasn't in a TAP or preview ring. This was in a Ring 4 GA tenant. Let's see what we can do