Product Updates

Requesting sign-off approvals on your OneDrive files

Microsoft has integrated out-of-the-box Microsoft Flow templates directly into OneDrive! With the new Request sign-off template, you can easily send your OneDrive files out to co-workers for review. You’ll be able to specify who the reviewer(s) are at the start of the workflow. You’ll be notified via email once one of the reviewers has approved the file.

Let’s walk through how the new flow template works:

  1. Select the file you want to route for approval.
  2. Go to the Flow dropdown in your menu bar and select Request sign-off.
    oob-flow-01
  3. When the flow panel opens, click Next.
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  4. Type in the name(s) of the people you’d like to review your document. If desired, type in a custom message for your reviewers.
    OOB-flow-03.png
  5. Click Run flow to execute your new workflow.
  6. Your reviewer(s) will receive an email notification that a document is pending their review.
    OOB-flow-04.png
  7. You’ll be notified via email when your file is approved or rejected.
    OOB-flow-05.png

Timing for this new feature:
This new out-of-the-box Flow template began rolling out to Office 365 tenants in December 2018.

The new “Send a copy” feature in Microsoft Flow

In January 2019, Microsoft announced the new Send a copy feature in Microsoft Flow. With Send a copy, you can quickly and easily share a copy of your flow with others in your Office 365 tenant. You can Send a copy of your flow from two different locations:

The options menu on your My flows page:
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Or from the flow properties page:
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Once you select Send a copy, a configuration pane displays. You can customize the title of your flow, add a description for it, and specify the name(s), email address(s), or security group(s) you want to share with. Remember: You can only send a flow to others in your same Office 365 tenant. You cannot use Send a copy to share flows across tenants.

Once you’ve finished entering all your flow copy details, click Send.
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The recipient(s) will receive an email indicating a flow has been shared with them. The user(s) can also go to the Shared with me tab on their flow template gallery to see and use their copy of the flow.
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Once the recipient(s) creates a new flow from the template that was shared with them, they’ll be able to customize it. IMPORTANT: No link is retained between the original flow and the version that is shared. The flows operate independently and can be customized at will.

So how well does the feature work?
Save a copy provides a quick and easy method for sharing flows between users. It’s relatively easy to use (both for the sharer and the recipient), and I love the new Shared with me template gallery tab in Microsoft Flow.

But at its core, the Save a copy feature is a one-time content push. Copied flows do not remain connected, and sharing only happens unidirectionally. A user you shared a flow with cannot, for example, iterate on your flow and dynamically share their updates with you. They can Save a copy of the updated flow and send it to you, but you’ll need to create a new instance of the flow to see the changes made.

The Save a copy feature also doesn’t allow for flow template browsing. Users are unaware of flows their co-workers have created; they can only see flows that have been manually shared with them. If you’re looking for a more robust method for sharing flow templates internally, check out my series on driving Microsoft Flow adoption with the creation of an internal organization-level template gallery. (Credits to Daniel Glenn for partnering with me on this solution.)

The bottom line:
Save a copy provides a quick and easy way to share flows with individuals or security groups. While there are limitations for its use (e.g. it’s a content “push” instead of a browse-and-reuse option), it can be used to create one-off flows in only a few clicks.

Building a flexible model for sharing Office 365 changes with your end-users

Darrell as a Service published a great article recently about upcoming changes to the Office 365 ‘save’ dialog box. Starting in February 2019, Microsoft will roll out updates to the default save function for all Windows and Mac Office 365 users. When users press CTRL+S or click Save, the simplified ‘save’ dialog box will display. Files will be saved to OneDrive by default, but users will be able to change the save location via the More save options link. While we still have many questions about how this new ‘save’ dialog box will work, we know that this functionality change will impact our end-users significantly.

How many of our end-users will adapt quickly and easily to this ‘save’ dialog box change? And how can we ease this transition? Without an effective strategy for communicating changes like this one, we could be facing significant user confusion and a tidal wave of calls to the internal help desk.

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Image source: support.office.com 

Building a flexible communications model
Most organizations can’t afford to create a formal communications plan for individual Office 365 feature changes (particularly given the volume of changes rolling out monthly). So how do we efficiently and effectively share Office 365 changes with our users?

We build a flexible communications model that guides us through the process of sharing Office 365 product updates. This model should provide a variety of conduits for communication, along with guidelines on when/why each should be used.

Your communications model should reflect the culture of your organization and the learning style(s) of your end-users. As I discussed in my post Change by color: The secret of green dots, yellow dots and red dots, some end-users will easily adapt to change. They’ll either roll with the changes when they come across them or be content with a quick explanation posted on a SharePoint Communications site or Yammer post. Other users require formal change communications. These are the users we need to build a flexible communications model for.

So how do you build this flexible model for sharing Office 365 updates? To start, I recommend building a list of the communication mediums you have at your disposal. Examples include:

  • Internal user group meeting announcements/demos
  • Yammer announcements
  • Microsoft Stream videos
  • News articles on a SharePoint Communications site
  • Tips & tricks rotator/carousel on your internal Office 365 learning center
  • Subscription-based email distribution groups (e.g. have end-users subscribe to an email distribution list to receive feature change communications)
  • Department or company-wide email broadcasts
  • News bulletins/announcements on your company intranet or help desk site

Once you know how you can communicate changes, you can build criteria for when to use each. You may decide, for example, to use an internal Office 365 Yammer group to share quick product updates. To help users differentiate these Yammer posts, you’ll use a consistent set of hashtags for product announcements:

  • #WhatsNew – denotes a new feature or capability
  • #mobile – denotes when an announcement is mobile-related
  • #OneDrive – denotes a OneDrive Yammer post
  • #Flow – denotes a Microsoft Flow Yammer post

The key is predictability. Users that want to learn about Office 365 changes on a proactive basis should have an easy time figuring out where to go to learn more. And your help desk agents should know where to go to review recent Office 365 changes so they can validate if a recent change is causing user confusion.

Your communications model must also flex and change over time. Be open to suggestions for improvement. And keep an eye out for trending information from your help desk. If you’re seeing large spikes in Office 365 user issues after changes are released, it could mean your communications model isn’t marketed well enough or isn’t hitting the right target audience. Focusing on a continuous improvement model will enable you to hone your approach and find the right strategy for communicating changes to your users.

REgarding 365 debate #4: Org-wide Microsoft teams

Microsoft Teams will now support creation of organization-wide teams for small-to-medium sized companies. Org-wide teams can be created by Office 365 global administrators, but are limited to organizations with no more than 1,000 users. The org-wide public team will automatically incorporate all company users, pulling Active Directory information for everyone who joins or leaves the organization.

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This new capability is generating some interesting discussions about how to best facilitate org-wide dialogue. Is Microsoft Teams best suited to host this type of open communication? And how would this new feature impact use of the All Company group in Yammer? The REgarding 365 team has assembled some thoughts on these questions. Check out our latest video:

We’ll be taking this discussion to the next level as we debate the merits of org-wide Microsoft teams. Tune in on October 25, 2018 at 4pm Central time to hear the debate live

New mass file deletion notifications in OneDrive for Business & SharePoint Online

In August 2018, Microsoft announced a new email notification feature for large file deletions that take place in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business. The feature proactively alerts users when an unusually large number of files are deleted in SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business and outlines steps for restoring the files. Mass file deletion notifications is the latest in a series of features (including the recent SharePoint Online and OneDrive document library versioning changes) designed to reduce accidental data loss.

If a large number of files are deleted from a user’s OneDrive for Business account, the user will receive an email notification with instructions on how to restore their files from the recycle bin. Users that delete a large number of files from a SharePoint Online site will also receive an email notification with instructions on restoring those files.

The tricky part is determining how many files must be deleted before these automated notifications take place. According to Microsoft, “Notifications are sent to users when a higher than usual number of files are deleted per hour.” No additional information has been provided on how the ratio of file deletions is measured or what percentage increase in file deletions is enough to meet the notification threshold. As Microsoft calls out, “This is not to be considered a fail-safe file recovery solution – it is a continuation of best efforts we are making to protect your files from accidental loss.”

No configuration changes are required for enablement of this change–it will automatically deploy in your Office 365 tenant. Rollout of the mass delete notification feature has already begun for Targeted Release customers; standard release customers will start receiving the feature in late September. Government Community Cloud (GCC) Office 365 subscribers will not receive the feature.

 

Join us for a LIVE REgarding 365 discussion about Microsoft’s upcoming Office user interface changes

Microsoft announced today that big user interface changes are on the way for Microsoft Office. The changes will be coming to Office Online first, but will eventually impact the desktop applications as well. Several members of the REgarding 365 team (myself, Loryan Strant, Daniel Glenn, and Darrell Webster) reviewed the changes and discussed organization strategies to drive adoption. Check out the video recording below

#SPC18 session recap: Leverage Intelligent Video to Power a Collaborative Organization with Microsoft Stream

UPDATE: In November 2018, Microsoft will begin rolling out new Microsoft Stream capabilities for Enterprise E1, Enterprise E3, Firstline F1, Education A1, Education A3, Business Premium, Business Essentials, and Microsoft 365 Office 365 plans. New features include:

  • Speaker timelines with facial detection. Allows viewers to easily jump to all points in a video where a specific person appears.
  •  Speech-to-text and closed-captioning. Captures video content in a readable form.
  • Transcript search and timecodes. Enable viewers to quickly search and find the content they need.

Speech-to-text transcription, closed-captioning, and deep search will also be applied to all existing Stream videos.

Original post:

This week I’ve had the privilege to attend and speak at the 2018 SharePoint Conference. The conference has been amazing–great content, a fun venue, and fantastic speakers and attendees.

One of the sessions I’ve been looking forward to attending centers on Stream, including an overview of the app, a demo of its Office 365 integration, and migration paths from Office 365 Video. Check out my “pseudo” live blog of the session below. (I call it a “pseudo” live blog because I’m posting the recap in its entirety at the end of the session.)

Leverage Intelligent Video to Power a Collaborative Organization with Microsoft Stream

  • “Video is becoming ubiquitous in our personal and work lives”
  • As humans, we can process video 60,000 times faster than text (Liraz Margalit, Ph.D)
  • Key scenarios for use of video in organizations:
    • Executive communications
    • Training
    • Onboarding
    • Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing (usage is increasing due to the ease of creating video content. Subject matter experts are increasingly leveraging video to share what they know with others)
  • Stream is an enterprise video service; a destination where all the videos in your organization can be stored and discovered
  • The Stream homepage includes:
    • Trending videos
    • Spotlight videos (aka videos that have been “pinned” to appear by a Stream administrator)
    • Stream video watchlist
    • List of Stream channels I’ve followed
  • PowerPoint can be used as your video creation tool. The PowerPoint Recording tab enables you to create your recording. The Publish to Stream button converts your PowerPoint video into an MP4 file and automatically uploads it to Stream
  • All videos in Stream are automatically closed-captioned if the video is labeled as English or Spanish
  • Full-scale video transcripts are created for E5 customers. The transcripts are displayed alongside the Stream video, are editable by the video owner and allow users to jump to any point of video by clicking on the transcript. (Note: Only videos in English and Spanish are automatically transcribed).
  • E5 customers also have a People tab that appears under each Stream video. A picture of each person featured in the Stream video is shown. Click on a picture to jump to the point of the video where they are featured
  • Video analytics and REST APIs are not yet available in Stream
  • Stream videos are not available for searching in Delve at this time
  • Upload limit for a single Stream video is 50GB

Office 365 integration:

  • Stream supports Office 365 groups. Channels can be leveraged within an Office 365 group to segment videos by need/subject/audience
  • Each Office 365 group gets a unique landing page in Stream. This allows for highlighting of group videos
  • A Stream web part is available for SharePoint Online. The web part can be used to share a single Stream video or an entire Stream channel. All videos are played directly within the SharePoint Online page
  • Stream tabs can also be created in Teams. The Stream tab can display individual Stream videos or entire Stream channels
  • Yammer integration is also available
  • The goal is to continue evolving Stream integration into other Office 365 products

Stream administration:

  • All Office 365 global admins are Stream admins by default. You can also denote other individuals to be Stream admins
  • Stream admins can:
    • Set spotlight videos (aka videos that will be tagged to display on the Stream homepage carousel)
    • Configure a Stream video upload policy. Once defined, the policy will pop-up when a new user uploads a Stream video. The policy must be read and accepted before the user can continue
    • View storage consumption. Default Stream storage is 500GB, plus 0.5GB of storage per user. Additional storage can be purchased
    • Restrict the use of comments on videos. Individual video owners can restrict comments for their videos even if Stream comments are turned on by default
    • Restrict who can upload videos and create Stream channels
    • Run reports on Stream users. User reports include:
      • User’s unique ID
      • A list of the user’s uploaded videos
      • A list of the videos the user has access to
      • A list of channels the user has created
      • A list of all the groups the user is a member of
      • A list of all comments the user has made on Stream videos
    • Alter Stream videos (normally only video owners can edit video details)
    • Delete video comments

Stream permissions:

  • Stream videos can be secured with unique permissions. You can name specific users, leverage Active Directory groups or define an Office 365 group
  • No security can be set up for a Stream video channel on its own. Permissions are managed at the individual Stream video level or at the Office 365 group level
  • Stream does not support guest or external anonymous user access (possibly coming in 2019). In order to view a video in Stream today, all users must have an Office 365 Stream license

Office 365 Video to Stream migration:

  • Microsoft is programmatically going to migrate customers. Beta migrations are occurring in May 2018, with opt-in and opt-out customer migrations coming afterwards. (No specific timeline has been set.) Eventually, customers will not be able to opt-out; all Office 365 Videos will be migrated to Stream programmatically
  • Migration process is built into the browser interface. All content will be available for review in Stream before you go live

Stream roadmap (aka future items being defined and/or developed):

  • Stream mobile app with offline playback
  • Responsive channel web part for SharePoint
  • Teams meeting recordings auto-published to Stream
  • Branding via Office 365 suite navigation bar
  • External public anonymous videos
  • Video analytics/stats
  • Integration with enterprise search
  • Playlists
  • Interactive videos

Links for more information

Document library versioning changes coming soon for OneDrive for Business and team sites in SharePoint Online

UPDATE: On July 18, 2018, Microsoft announced an update to this SharePoint Online and OneDrive for Business versioning change:

“Since this announcement, we have received feedback from our customers on this functionality and timing. First off, thank you for your valuable feedback. We hear you and are making changes to accommodate different customer needs. With that said, we will be providing an option to opt out of the site versioning requirements.”

As I mentioned in my original post, enforcing a minimum of 100 document versions in all SharePoint Online and OneDrive document libraries may significantly impact document retention policies for many organizations. The delayed implementation of this versioning increase (and the ability to opt out of it entirely) is a great outcome for companies with strong legal and compliance policy risks or concerns.

Companies wishing to opt out of the versioning setting update will need to execute a SharePoint Online Management Shell cmdlet. This cmdlet will need to be executed by the end of September 2018. Without the cmdlet, your tenant will be updated to the new versioning settings in October 2018. For details on executing the cmdlet, see Microsoft’s updated versioning announcement.


On May 16, 2018, Microsoft announced a big change to the default versioning settings for document libraries in OneDrive and SharePoint Online team sites. Versioning will now be enabled by default in document libraries and a minimum of 100 major versions of each document will be retained. This change will impact OneDrive for Business and all SharePoint Online team sites, regardless of whether the sites are connected to an Office 365 group or not. The change will not impact any on-premises SharePoint document libraries.

Targeted Release customers will start receiving this update in early June, and all tenants will receive the change by the end of July. As part of the change, any document library that does not have versioning enabled will be updated to retain 100 major document versions. Document libraries that have versioning enabled with a limit of less than 100 versions will have the version limit increased to 100. Document libraries that already have a version limit of 100 or more will be left as-is. Once this change is rolled out to your tenant, site owners and administrators will no longer be able to disable document library versioning or set a versioning limit of less than 100.

This is a big shift for SharePoint practitioners and evangelists. Many of us have advocated for strong version limits in our legacy SharePoint document libraries due to storage concerns. Unlimited versioning (or a high versioning limit) drove up site sizes, which in turn created site collection storage allocation limit issues. With the advent of Office 365, our ever-increasing amounts of storage in SharePoint Online, and our evolved approach to keeping site collections small and flat, storage concerns are no longer a primary driver for setting low versioning limits. Microsoft is also relying on versioning data to support an array of new features (e.g. file auto-save and OneDrive file restores).

It’s vital that SharePoint Online administrators and site owners understand these versioning changes and discuss the new minimum storage requirements with their business users. Compliance and legal teams should also be notified, as the required minimum versions may necessitate stronger eDiscovery controls or updates to your organization’s retention policies.