Microsoft 365 update for December 2019

Happy New Year! Let’s look back at the last update for 2019 as we officially enter 2020 🙂

In this month’s update:

SharePointaudience targeting, admin center improvements, column total settings, rich text in lists, alternate rows, SharePoint classic & Delve blog retirement

Teamsnative federation for 1:1 user chats, live captions (preview), dynamic emergency calling, add additional participants to meeting chats, mute meeting chats, meeting roles, video calling in Chrome, Citrix VDI support enters GA, Contact Center API’s, Teams in ProPlus, require Wi-Fi mobility policy, number normalization rules, incoming IP video policy changes, class Teams early teacher access, Grade Sync

Power Appstext recognizer, extended trial for AI Builder, AI Builder region expansion, build page AI models

Power AutomateUI flows enters preview, international keyboard support & UI Localization

Power Virtual AgentsPower Virtual Agents enters GA

Power BIreporting updates, analytics, visualizations, data connectivity, data preparation, template apps

Related Outlook on web as progressive web app


Audience targeting for organizational news

Page authors and site owners are to tag pages and news posts with Azure Active Directory (AAD) groups, and filter content within these web parts to people within those groups – to target them with relevant content.

Audience targeting is available on the SharePoint start page, mobile app news and the news web part with filtered views. One or more groups can be set as the audience for any file.

With Audience Targeting enabled, you can see which groups are the target audience for specific content in the Site Pages library.
Find out more:

SharePoint admin center improvements

December 2019 has seen several updates rolled out to the SharePoint admin center as Microsoft continue to align the admin centers capabilities inside O365.

Replace root site: replace your root site with another site from the SharePoint admin center. The original root site is moved to a different URL and can be restored, if necessary.

Permissions panel: view the site Owners, Members, and Visitors groups from inside the admin center. If it’s an Office 365 Groups-connected site, you can see the group owners, and add or remove additional site admins also.

On-hover people cards: hovering over the name of a user lets you see their details using the same hover card experience throughout Microsoft 365.

Customizable admin center navigation pane: hide items you don’t use in the admin center or collapse the navigation menu to see more content on the page.

More features page: the “Classic features” page has been renamed to “More features,” and all classic features are now shown on the one page.

Additional site-level sharing settings:  you can now limit sharing by domain, set the default sharing link type, and set default sharing link permission for all sites. You can also make “Anyone” links expire. Additionally, the External sharing column is now included when you export your site list as a .csv file.

Design updates: the details panels has been widened, to provide space for future enhancements and match the design of other Microsoft 365 admin centers.

Improvements to the SharePoint Admin Center.

Find out more:

Column total settings

Users will be able to enable and disable column totals in the SharePoint list experience; previously only achievable in classic mode. You can display column totals and subtotals in the footer of a group or a list/library view.

You can add calculated fields such as totals or averages to the footer of a group or the entire list using custom views. Totals also appear as part of list & library web parts.

List totals in modern SharePoint lists & libraries.
Find out more:

Rich text formatting for list/ libraries

There is now even greater flexibility for how your text appears within your SharePoint list items by using the enhanced rich text editor – to bold, color, underline, etc. more closely to how you wish your text to appear.

You’ll then see all Format options available to reflect more visually the meaning of each word or status of the column(s) – including the ability to adjust the font, icon and borders; all while seeing a real-time preview of your design.

Rich text editor for list or library items in SharePoint.
Find out more:

Alternate row view formatting

Users will be able to create a document view for list data that features column formatting and/or alternating colors by row. Just click the down-facing arrow to the right of the top All Items list header option in your list, then select Format current view > Edit row styles. Here you can then adjust the row font, colors, border style – all with a real-time preview of your design.

Alternate row view formatting in modern SharePoint lists.
Find out more:

SharePoint classic and Delve blogs being retired

SharePoint classic blogs and Delve blogs are being retired, with existing classic blogs continuing to work as expected, but you will not be able to create new blog sites after a period of time.

Delve blogs will no longer be available for creation, and existing blogs will eventually be removed, after an extended period of read only access.

Microsoft recommend creating Communication sites using News, Yammer, and Stream as a modern way of engaging with your audience.

Find out more:


Native Federation for 1:1 Chats with users outside your organization

Users in TeamsOnly mode can now enjoy the same chat experience whether they are talking to a colleague or someone who is outside of their organization. An icon will appear next to the user’s name to indicate that they are external.

Have conversations with users outside your organisation with native federation in TeamsOnly mode.

Find out more:

Live captions (preview)

Live Captions in Teams meetings allows you to turn on subtitles during the meeting, making meetings more inclusive and giving participants another way to follow along with the conversation.

Currently being rolled out in public preview in English in the United States, with a view to roll this out in additional languages and geographies in 2020. 

Live captions in Microsoft Teams.

Find out more:

Dynamic Emergency Calling for Direct Routing

Dynamic Emergency Calling for Direct Routing is now available as a part of Microsoft Teams Phone System. It uses the caller’s current location to route their emergency call to a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), a call center operated by the local government.

Find out more:

Add additional participants to meeting chats

Today in private meeting chat threads (i.e. the chats that are created in association with a meeting), users don’t have functionality to easily add more participants to chat.

This new feature will add an entry point “Add participants” in the meeting chat header and users who are already part of the chat thread will be able to add more users to the meeting chat using this feature.

Add participants to chats in Teams.

Find out more:

Reduce your notifications with muted meeting chats

By default meeting chats will now be muted until you either send a message in the chat or join the online meeting. To change these defaults, go to your profile picture at the top right of the app, select Settings > Notifications. From there, scroll to the meetings section and open the menu next to Meeting chat notifications.

Mute chat notifications in Teams.

Find out more:

Meeting roles

With meeting roles in Teams, you can now choose what roles your invitees have during your meetings. There are two roles to choose from: presenter and attendee.

Presenters can do just about anything that needs doing in a meeting, while the role of an attendee is more controlled. 

Find out more:

Video calling in Chrome

Video calling on Chrome is now generally available. Now Teams users on Google Chrome can initiate and accept video calls with other Teams users.

Video calling in Chrome.

Find out more:

Citrix VDI support enters General Availability

Microsoft have announced that an optimized media experience for Microsoft Teams in Citrix on-premises, Citrix Cloud, and Azure-hosted Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) environments has entered general availability. 

Find out more:

Contact Center APIs ready for development

Microsoft made the announcement during Ignite 2019 regarding an upcoming Certified for Microsoft Teams program for connected contact center solutions. Now, much of the package of APIs are available to enable these solutions.

Find out more:

Teams added to existing installations of Office 365 ProPlus on the semi-annual channel

Starting January 14th, the Teams desktop client will be added to existing installations of Office 365 ProPlus on the Semi-Annual Channel. You are still able to deploy Teams at your own pace though, with the ability to exude Teams from your installation or disabling it from auto-starting.

Find out more:

Teams Mobile app includes new mobility policy requiring Wi-Fi

A new mobility policy for the Teams Mobile app allows admins to require users to have Wi-Fi connections when making or receiving Teams video and/or video calls and meetings to control cellular data usage costs.

Find out more:

Number Normalization Rules for tenant administrator

Tenant administrators often need to change a phone number for live inbound/outbound calls in order to ensure interoperability with phone networks.  The rule can translate either callee or caller numbers to a desired format. Policy can then be applied using PowerShell in inbound and/or outbound directions.

Find out more:

Changes in Incoming IP Video policy

Administrators now have more control over how video is managed in Teams Meetings. Previously, the old policy only prevented outgoing video, but this has been extended so the Allow IP Video policy can now prevent both outgoing and incoming video as needed.

Allow IP video now prevents outgoing and incoming video for Teams Meetings.

Find out more:

Early teacher access to Class Teams

Microsoft School Data Sync (SDS) enables automatic creation of all your class teams using the data found in your school’s student information system.  With early teacher access to classes, you now have time to set up assignments, add files, and get organized before your students begin using the SDS-created team.

Early teacher access to class Teams.

Find out more:

Sync Teams assignments and grades to PowerSchool with Grade Sync

Teachers can now sync your assignments and grades directly to PowerSchool PowerTeacher Pro with Grade Sync.

Find out more:

Power Apps

Text recognizer

Now in preview, text recognizer is a new AI Builder feature that enables you to detect and extract printed or handwritten text that appears in images.

It is now available in Power Apps as a new AI Builder control and allows any Power Apps maker to build an app that can take a picture then extract text from it.

Text recognizer (preview) in Power Apps.

Find out more:

Extended trial period

You can now extend expired trials in Power Apps. This gives you 30 additional days to test and experiment with AI Builder premium features.

Press the “Extend Trial” button in the AI Builder page for an additional 30 days full access.

Find out more:

Region expansion for AI Builder

AI Builder; initially released in the United States and Europe, is expanding support to two additional regions: Asia and Canada. Feature support will vary based on location. 

Find out more:

Build page for AI models

In AI Builder, AI is based on model types that you choose from, based your business needs. Models that are ready to use and don’t require any training are now presented on the AI Builder homepage. These capabilities can be used in Power Automate or Power Apps.

Build models available on the AI Builder homepage.

Find out more:

Power Automate

As mentioned in our last monthly update, Microsoft Flow has had a name change, now known as Power Automate.

Robotic Process Automation now in preview

First announced in November, UI flows, which adds robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities to Microsoft Power Automate is now in preview. UI flows brings together the rich feature set of API-based digital process automation (DPA) that is available today, with RPA UI-based automation to create a truly end-to-end automation platform.

Robotic process automation in Power Automate.

Find out more:

UI flows December client update

In the December client update to UI flows, Microsoft have added new support for International Keyboard Layout Support and UI Localizations, as well as addressed some playback issues.

You will need to have the latest UI flows agent installed on your desktop to see the latest releases updates.

Find out more:

Power Virtual Agents

Power Virtual Agents now generally available

Announced early in December was that Power Virtual Agents is now generally available. Power Virtual Agents is an offering that enables anyone to create powerful chatbots using a guided, no-code graphical interface, without the need for data scientists or developers.

Introduction to Power Virtual Agents.

Find out more:

Power BI

I will begin to include a round up of the brilliant desktop feature summary provided by the Power BI team already on their community blog, as trying to include all the detail from their summary would be futile for this post!

Reporting updates

Customize current theme: You can now customize the most common options of your current theme through a dialog in Power BI Desktop.

Export current theme: Related to the above, you can now download the currently applied theme. If you have a downloaded or shared report with a theme that you really like, this is a great way to extract that theme file to reuse in your own reports.

Setting a table column or matrix value as a custom URL: Microsoft are introducing a new conditional formatting option that allows you set a table’s column or matrix’s value as a custom URL.

KPI visual formatting settings: The KPI visual formatting settings have been drastically improved, including new options such as: indicator text formatting and trend axis transparency.

New decomposition tree formatting: The decomposition tree visual has also received new formatting features such as: category labels font family, size, and color and decimal places precision, level header title font family, size, and color.

Filter pane toggle button in the new ribbon: A new Filters toggle button in the view tab that allows you to toggle the filter pane on and off in Power BI Desktop.

Automatic page refresh for DirectQuery details (preview): For automatic page refresh, a details section on each page has been added to help you define the best refresh interval and monitor performance.

Analytics updates

Load more for Analyze insights: The load more functionality allows you to run analysis after an initial timeout if there’s a lot of data to analyze.

New DAX function: Quarter: The new DAX function, Quarter returns the quarter corresponding to a specified date.


Personalized visualization pane is now generally available: Some highlights include the ability to pin or unpin all types of visuals and see the personalization in the Power BI service as well.

New xViz visuals: Four new xViz visuals released: hierarchy tree, bullet chart, parallel coordinates and Gantt chart.

New Zebra BI visuals: 12 new charts released for Zebra BI charts, plus updates to the Zebra BI tables visuals.

Drill Down Combo Bar PRO by ZoomCharts: Drill Down Combo Bar PRO is another addition to the ZoomCharts custom visuals suite and has all ZoomCharts signature features, such as interactive drill down, smooth animations, rich customization options, and full measure support.

Annotated Bar by Queryon: The Annotated Bar by Queryon visual lets you create various forms of bar charts, such as a stacked, clusted, or overlapping bar chart, and combine that with customizable labels to help your users notice to key data points.

Tachometer 5 Ranges: The Tachometer 5 Ranges visual by Dimensional Strategies Inc. is a gauge visual that allows you to visualize your metric using 5 different ranges. 

ValQ licensing updates: ValQ have recently changed their pricing to introduce an affordable per user pricing model and freemium offering with generous data/node limits. 

Data connectivity

Azure Data Lake Storage Gen2 connector generally available: This connector is now supported for the Power BI Service refresh and has also reached General Availability.

Power Platform Dataflows connector: Microsoft are releasing a new Power Platform Dataflows connector that allows you to create reports in Power BI on top of Dataflows created from Power Apps environments.

PostgreSQL connector now includes the Npgsql provider: An update to the PostgreSQL connector is that it now includes the Npgsql provider. This means that with the out-of-box experience, you will no longer need to install Npgsql yourself. 

AtScale connector generally available: The AtScale connector is now generally available. This connector can be found in the Database category of the Get Data dialog.

Azure Time Series Insights connector: Time Series Insights now integrates with Power BI, providing you with more powerful visualization and dashboarding capabilities over your streaming data.

Data Virtuality connector: The Data Virtuality Logical Data Warehouse, a high-performance data virtualization solution, allows you to leverage your existing data environment through instant data access, data centralization, automation, and data governance.

Zucchetti HR Infinity connector: The Zucchetti HR software supports the HR department in valuing talents, in improving the corporate environment and in reaching strategic goals.

Data preparation

Updates to AI Insights functions: There are two updates related to the Azure ML and text analytics features released last month.

Template apps

Omnichannel insights for Dynamics 365: Omnichannel Insights for Dynamics 365 supporting Chat, Bot, and SMS channels is now generally available. 

Customer service analytics for Dynamics 365: The Customer Service Analytics dashboard provides information about the historical operational metrics and KPIs to effectively manage contact centers.

Microsoft Forms Pro for Customer Service: The Forms Pro Customer Satisfaction app will enable you to get analytics combining survey data and case data.

Find out more:


Outlook on the web as a progressive web app

With this update users will be able to install Outlook on the web as a progressive web app in Chromium-based browsers. Progressive web apps (PWA) are websites that that provide native app-like features on supporting platforms and browser engines.

When Outlook is installed as a PWA, users can launch it from the Start menu, pin it to the Taskbar, or run it in a standalone browser window that removes standard browser interface elements.

Outlook on the web as a progressive web app.

Find out more:



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