Microsoft 365 monthly update – December 2021

The Microsoft 365 monthly update includes updates and recently recent features across all of Microsoft 365. Press a button to read about an individual technology or continue reading for more. You can take a look back at previous monthly updates here, plus take a look at our weekly roadmap roundup.


SharePoint

In SharePoint: Azure AD Dynamic Groups, Microsoft Search verticals, lookup columns in Lists, manage Teams and channels in admin center, markup ink for Edit HVC

Azure Active Directory Dynamic Groups for SharePoint audience targeting

Previously, Microsoft supported Active Directory (AD) security groups and Microsoft 365 groups. Support of dynamic groups offers a way to expand how you target your SharePoint audiences. You can start to add them from the audience picker in the areas where targeting is supported in SharePoint, including navigation and selected web parts.

“Marketing Members” is a Dynamic Group in AAD, used here to enable dynamic audience targeting for the main team site left-hand navigation.

Find out more: Target navigation, news, files, links, and web parts to specific audiences

Create and manage verticals in Microsoft Search

Search verticals are tabs on the search result’s page that show results of a specific type or from select sources. You can customize verticals in Microsoft Search to meet the needs of your organization or individual departments. Microsoft Search has two types of verticals, out of the box or default and custom verticals. The default verticals, such as All, Files, and People, create easy access to the most used search results.

Custom “Department” vertical showing in search results within SharePoint.

Find out more: Manage search verticals

Microsoft Lists lookup columns

Lookup columns allow you to connect a list to a column from another list or library – from that same site. Think of it as ad-hoc, team level metadata that easy to establish, update, and use. Once connected, you can easily “lookup” other information (like a list of managed devices) and include this in your new list (like a seasonal list of people).

Lookup columns allow you to connect a list to a column from another list you have on your site.

Find out more: List and library column types and options

Manage Teams and channel connected team sites in SharePoint admin center

The SharePoint team are enhancing the Active site experience in SharePoint admin center to include channel sites that are provisioned when a special channel is added to a Team. This means:

  • A new Teams view that filters the sites list to only sites that are Teams connected.
  • A new column identifying the site is connected to teams.
  • A new column identifying the team connected site has associated Private or Shared channel sites.
  • And the ability to manage Channel site storage limits.

thumbnail image 4 captioned The Sharepoint admin center 'Active sites' page will include SharePoint team sites connected to various Teams channels (shared or private).The Sharepoint admin center ‘Active sites’ page will include SharePoint team sites connected to various Teams channels (shared or private).

Find out more: Rich, secure content and collaboration for hybrid work – Ignite 2021 announcements

Markup Ink for Edit HVC (high-value Controls)

If you have a photo file in OneDrive or SharePoint, and you go into edit mode, you can now add ink inline – like how you’ve been able to do with PDFs. With markup(ink), you can draw and add notes to photos to convey messages, reveal patterns, and provide clarity when sharing.

Markup images/photos in OneDrive and SharePoint in Microsoft 365.

Find out more: Roadmap ID 88481


Teams

In Teams: Order of raised hands, meeting recordings, Operator Connect Conferencing, add description to images, meeting room capacity notifications in Rooms, split video layout for Rooms, hot desking, E2EE for 1-1 calls

Teams (Government)

Teams

Order of raised hands

Ensure that all voices are heard and people feel seen just as in person by seeing the order of raised hands in a meeting. Simply click on the Participants panel to see who raised their hand and in what order. Now you know the order of who to call on first to speak so that no participant is missed.

Order of raised hands in Teams meetings.

Find out more: Raise your hand in a Teams meeting

Add description to images in chat

Make your Teams messages more accessible to people with disabilities by adding alternative text to images. Similar to adding alternative text in Outlook, you now can add descriptions to images in Teams chat messages by right-clicking on the image and selecting “Add alt text.” This enables people who use screen readers to understand the full content of your message, even if they can’t see the image. 

Add description to images in chat.

Find out more: Everything you need to know to write effective alt text

Teams meeting recordings

Recording meetings in Teams allows you to review what you may have missed and helps others who could not attend catch up on their own time. Over the past year, we’ve shifted to saving new Teams meeting recordings to OneDrive and SharePoint to provide better control and sharing options. We’ve also added a number of improvements including:

  • Multi-speed playback – Now you can watch recordings at slower and faster speeds (0.5x up to 2x)
  • High-quality transcripts – Transcripts now have speaker attribution for meetings that have Teams Live Transcription turned on
  • Indexed recordings – Recorded meetings are indexed into easier-to-consume segments based on slide transitions
  • Auto-recording – Meeting owners can set meetings to automatically start recording
  • Auto-expiration – Coming soon, admins will be able to set a default number of days after which newly created Teams meeting recordings will be sent to the recycle bin.

Find out more: Record a meeting in Teams

Operator Connect Conferencing

Operator Connect Conferencing is now generally available. Using the same administrator interface as Operator Connect, this service allows tenant admins to add participating operator dial-in numbers to a Teams audio conferencing bridge. You can keep your existing contract with any of the participating operators or select from a list of partners within the Operators tab in the Teams admin center.

The initial wave of qualified operators includes BT, Deutsche Telekom, Intrado, NTT, Orange Business Services, T-Mobile, and Telenor. Expect a seamlessly integrated experience today, with additional qualified operators to be added over the next year.

Operator Connect Conferencing.

Find out more: Operator Connect Conferencing.

Meeting room capacity notifications for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows

Teams Rooms can now notify in-room meeting participants if the room is over capacity. IT admins can define meeting room capacity for each Teams Room account and, using data from meeting room cameras that support people-counting, identify how many people are in a room. A banner will automatically appear at the top of the front of room screen to alert participants if the room is over capacity.

Meeting room capacity notifications for Microsoft Teams Rooms on Windows.

Find out more: How to configure meeting room capacity notifications on Teams Rooms Device

Split video layout across multiple screens for Teams Rooms on Windows

Maximize screen real estate in a Teams Room with the ability to split the video gallery across all available displays when content isn’t being shared. Better utilizing the additional space can help focus attention on people joining remotely for a more inclusive and engaging meeting.

Split video layout across multiple screens for Teams Rooms on Windows.

Find out more: New experiences coming to Microsoft Teams Rooms to allow everyone to participate on equal footing

Hot Desking on Teams display

Hot desking on Microsoft Teams display allows employees to quickly locate and reserve flexible workspaces to touch down, make calls, set up ad-hoc meetings, or sign in to access their personalized Teams experience. With hot desking, employees can reserve a workspace in advance through Teams and Microsoft Outlook, or right from their device if they’re already in the office.

Hot Desking on Teams display.

Find out more: Upgrade your Teams phones to Teams displays

End-to-end encryption (E2EE) option for one-to-one Teams calls

Microsoft have announced that E2EE for one-to-one Teams calls is now generally available. IT admins have the option to enable and control the feature for their organizations once they receive the update.

End-to-end encryption for one-to-one Microsoft Teams calls now Generally Available.

Find out more: End-to-end encryption for one-to-one Microsoft Teams calls now Generally Available

Teams (Government)

These features currently available to Microsoft’s commercial customers in multi-tenant cloud environments are now rolling out to our customers in US Government Community Cloud (GCC), US Government Community Cloud High (GCC-High), and/or United States Department of Defense (DoD):

  • Breakout room managers’ support – Meeting organizers can extend the management of breakout rooms to presenters. By taking control from the breakout rooms management panel, appointed presenters will be able to perform breakout room operations as managers or meeting organizers and join rooms as a breakout room manager. Only participants who are named as presenters can be appointed as breakout room managers. Previously available in GCC, this feature is now coming to GCC-High and DOD. Learn more.

Power Apps

In Power Apps: Support for Dataverse choices columns, visualize data in model-driven apps with Power BI

Power Apps portals : Support for Microsoft Dataverse choices columns (preview)

The Power Apps team have announced support for Microsoft Dataverse choices columns in Power Apps portals with version 9.3.11.x (Note : Updates are currently rolling out). Choices control on a page allows users to select multiple options from a pre-configured list. Portals makers can design web pages with lists and forms that use the choices control to provide create, edit, and view experience for end users on this column type.

Support for Microsoft Dataverse choices columns in Power Apps Portals (preview).

Find out more: Power Apps portals : Support for Microsoft Dataverse choices columns (preview)

Visualize data in model-driven apps with Power BI (preview)

The Power Apps team have announced the availability of Power BI quick reports in model-driven apps in preview. This update combines the capabilities of Power Apps, Power BI and Dataverse in a seamless way to help you visualize and understand your data – with one click.

Power BI quick reports add to the flexibility of data visualization options already available in Power Apps. While charts and custom components allow you to create specific, custom visualizations in Power Apps, Power BI quick reports generate a report automatically based on the page context, combined with an understanding of underlying data types, with no prior set up required.

Visualize data in model-driven apps with Power BI (preview).

Find out more: Visualize data in model-driven apps with Power BI (preview)


Power Automate

In Power Automate: 27 new connectors, collaborative comments, Power Automate Desktop December 2021 update

27 new and updated connectors

The Power Automate team announced the launch of twenty-seven new and updated connectors.  The release included eleven new connectors and sixteen updates, and all of these updates have been submitted by the owners of these APIs. These new connectors have a range of services and functionalities.

Find out more: Ending 2021 with the release of twenty-seven new and updated connectors

Collaborative comments in Power Automate

Now, you can at-mention your co-workers in your comments  and have others receive email notifications when you do so. As multiple users work on automating a business process, these capabilities will be critical in helping makers collaborate seamlessly and efficiently.

Users can add comments by selecting ‘…’ within each action card or by simply clicking on the comments pane from the top.

Collaborative comments in Power Automate.

Find out more: Collaborative comments in Power Automate

Power Automate for desktop – December 2021 update

The Power Automate team have announce that the December 2021 update of Power Automate for desktop (version 2.15) has been released. This latest release includes the following new/ updated features:

  • The web and desktop recorders are now unified
  • Tenant picker is now supported in the console (Preview)
  • Create a copy of a desktop flow through the console
  • A new action ‘Recognize entities in text’ is now available
  • Syntax highlighting in scripting actions
  • New functionality to clear last error in action ‘Get last error’
  • New functionality to capture unexpected errors in action ‘On block error’
  • New capability to save an Excel workbook in Binary format
  • Window element has been added as parameter in action ‘Send keys’
  • The Windows OCR engine is now supported in OCR actions
  • Power Automate for desktop availability in Windows 10 store

Find out more: Power Automate for desktop – December 2021 update


Power BI

In Power BI: On-demand loading capabilities for large models, asynchronous refresh, hybrid tables, Power BI desktop feature summary December 2021, on-prem data gateway update, Power BI data protection updates, CustomData

Announcing on-demand loading capabilities for large models in Power BI

The Power BI team have announced on-demand load capabilities to further ensure highly performant and reliable large datasets. With on-demand load, Large dataset mode enabled models are hydrated into memory faster, which can provide significantly improved report performance.

With the new capability, relevant data pages are loaded on-demand (paged-in to memory) during subsequent query or refresh. Evicted datasets are then made available for queries more quickly and reliably.

Announcing on-demand loading capabilities for large models in Power BI.

Find out more: Announcing on-demand loading capabilities for large models in Power BI

Asynchronous refresh (Public Preview)

As Power BI becomes a superset of Azure Analysis Services, the asynchronous refresh REST API for Power BI brings built-in features for reliability, such as auto retries and batched commits. It is a significant improvement to the existing Power BI refresh capabilities, providing enterprise grade refresh capability for your largest datasets!

Find out more: Asynchronous refresh now available in Power BI for public preview

Hybrid Tables in Power BI Premium (Public Preview)

The Power BI team have announced support of Hybrid Tables in Power BI Premium, which enables us in turn to announce an equally exciting and ground breaking enhancement to incremental refresh – incremental refresh augmented with real-time data.

Now you can have blazing fast performance in import mode and the latest data changes in the data warehouse reflected in user reports without having to perform a dataset refresh. For technical details concerning incremental refresh.

Find out more: Announcing Public Preview of Hybrid Tables in Power BI Premium

Power BI Desktop December 2021 Feature Summary

Power BI Desktop December 2021 is out now and includes lot’s of new features such as Sparklines preview feature, several new Format Pane updates, e-mail subscription access via Admin API, plus many more.

Find out more: Power BI December 2021 Feature Summary

On-premises data gateway December 2021

The December update for the On-premises data gateway (version 3000.110.5) is out now.

Find out more: On-premises data gateway December 2021 update is now available

Power BI Data Protection December announcements

Mandatory MIP label policies and Default MIP label policies are now generally available which, both together and separately, can help you ensure that MIP labels are applied to all your Power BI content. Also in public preview is Microsoft 365 Data Loss Prevention policies now support Power BI premium workspaces.

Find out more: Power BI Data Protection December announcements

The CustomData feature is now generally available in Power BI

The capability to pass custom data for row level security is now available in Power BI Premium, Power BI Embedded, and Power BI Premium per User. You can natively utilize the CustomData feature to add row filters that pass free text (strings) to leverage dynamic row level security in embedded reports, dashboards, and tiles. In the past, this feature was limited to Azure Analysis Services and SQL Server Analysis Services models and could not be used with datasets in Power BI.

Find out more: The CustomData feature is now generally available in Power BI!


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