A number of new updates were announced for Office 365 customers this month. The headline addition was the roll out of the new classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams for Education customers. Microsoft Stream was made generally available, while Microsoft Forms was made available for commercial public preview and there were also a number of security and compliance announcements in the June 2017 update.
Classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams
The new immersive classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams are designed to bring a number of key features together into a single Office 365 hub for education. This allows teachers, staff and students to access a number of valuable features, including:
- School data sync: this allows teachers to automatically populate class rosters or registers directly from the school’s information systems.
- OneNote Class Notebooks for the organisation and delivery of personalised, interactive lessons.
- Integrated apps allowing the seamless use of Office 365 apps such as Planner, Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
- End to end assignment management. This allows teachers to manage every point from assignment creation and distribution to collection and marking.
Teams also helps educators to connect outside the classroom, such as in a professional learning community. The classroom experiences in Microsoft Teams are currently being rolled out to Office 365 for Education customers in more than 180 markets and 25 languages.
Microsoft Stream general availability. Microsoft Stream was officially launched for Office 365 Enterprise customers on June 20. The business video service can be seen as the spiritual successor to the short-lived Soapbox and Office 365 Video, which it will replace for business customers.
In the launch announcement, James Phillips, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft Business Applications Group, wrote: “Microsoft Stream provides a common destination for video management, with built-in intelligence features, deep integration across Office 365 and the IT management and security capabilities that businesses of all sizes require.” Some of the intelligence features mentioned included searchable transcribed audio, face detection and linked timecodes, all of which allow users to search and jump to specific places in their videos far more easily.
Microsoft Forms commercial public preview. Microsoft Forms was previously available only to education customers but is being rolled out to commercial customers and is now available for commercial public preview.
The feature allows teachers/users to create quizzes and forms that can be accessed and answered online. One of the main applications in an educational setting is the setting of assignments but there are plenty of potential uses within the business community too, including collecting customer feedback, measuring employee satisfaction, organising team events and more.
Improvements to intelligent services. There have also been a couple of improvements to cloud-powered intelligent services in Office 365. Firstly, Researcher is being extended beyond Word for Windows desktop to Word for Macs and OneNote for Windows 10. Powered by the Bing Knowledge Graph, this feature allows you to easily locate and incorporate reliable sources and content for your own papers and notes. A new sharing feature has also been introduced to MyAnalytics. With this new feature, you can now select a section, summary or complete overview of your own productivity insights from MyAnalytics and share it with chosen recipients within your organisation. The idea is that this can help to motivate, spur conversations about productivity habits and drive change within the organisation.
Security and compliance improvements. Security is now a priority for the majority of Office 365 customers and this month saw some additional updates across both Office 365 Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and Advanced Threat Protection (ATP).
- Threat Protection status report. This new reporting feature for both ATP and EOP adds visibility to malicious emails detected and blocked while targeting your organisation. The status report is designed to supplement the previously introduced reports in the Security & Compliance Center for ATP Safe Attachments.
- Enhanced quarantine capabilities. All emails designated malware will be quarantined in both ATP and EOP while administrators are able to review and permanently delete selected emails from quarantine.
- ATP Safe Links Policy.Four new features have been added to Safe Links policies, allowing administrators to block specific URLs and email wildcarding for domains and handles. Safe Links policies can be customised for specific user lists including groups, individuals and divisions, and the character limit for blocking/allowing URLs has been expanded.
Several new eDiscovery and Data Governance features have also been introduced to aid with compliance issues. These include rights management (RMS) decryption in Office 365 eDiscovery and unified case management, which provides a consistent user interface for the eDiscovery capabilities in Office 365, helping to reduce the potential for human error.