3 recommended updates: Microsoft Teams gets private channels

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Version 19.08.09 is now available.

Microsoft MVP Jasper Oosterveld on Skype for Bussiness’s imminent retirement, a new Save for Later feature in OneDrive, and the release of private channels.

Welcome back to 3 recommended updates, a new blog series where I bring you the latest and greatest from the world of Microsoft and Office 365.

I hope you enjoyed the last one—where I discussed channel cross posting in Microsoft Teams, organization assets for SharePoint Online, and updated site usage analytics—and are ready for the third installment!

3 recommended updates series:

In this release you’ll find a critical update on Skype for Bussiness’s imminent retirement, a new Save for Later feature in OneDrive, and the release of private channels.

Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at my 3 recommended updates you need to know about now.

Skype for Business Online is retiring

This announcement shouldn’t really come as a surprise. Microsoft announced their plan to retire Skype for Business around two years ago, but now we have a timeline.

By July 31, 2021, Skype for Business will be no longer.

Microsoft Teams started out focusing on collaboration for teams, departments, and projects. Thanks to the integrated experience of Office 365, Teams usage started to skyrocket.

In July, Microsoft announced that Teams now has more than 13 million active daily users—putting the application ahead of Slack and making it the company’s fastest growing application in its history.

As Teams has become the core communications client for Office 365, we are announcing that Skype for Business Online will retire on July 31, 2021.

July 30, 2019 – Microsoft tech community blog

The inclusion of a chat feature should have been a warning and a sign for fans of Skype for Business. These features were very similar—and with the rapid growth of Teams and the addition of many new features, things were already looking grim.

I had encountered many issues with people trying to chat from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams and vice versa. The user experience was never really optimized, smooth, or issue-free. I probably stopped using Skype six months ago and never looked back.

Microsoft Teams it is!

Good to know:

  • Neither Skype Consumer nor Skype for Business Server will be affected by the retirement of Skype for Business Online.
  • Current Skype for Business Online customers will experience no change in the service up to the date of retirement.
  • To align with the retirement schedule, support for third-party integration of Audio Conferencing Providers (ACP) has been extended to July 31, 2021, with limited support for remaining active tenants to allow additional time for transition.

Learn more about transitioning from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams, and read the official statement in the Microsoft blog post.

Save documents for later in OneDrive

I have to say, I’m very excited for the arrival of this update!

We all work with a lot of documents, but don’t always have time to read everything right away. Which is why a lot of our customers have said they wished they could save a document for later.

Save for later allows users to keep documents that are interesting to them in an easily accessible list across Office 365.

microsoft 365 roadmap, featured id: 49095

Similar to the Save for later feature in modern SharePoint news, this update lets you bookmark:

  • Files and folders in your OneDrive
  • Files that have been shared with you
  • Files in Shared Libraries

Documents are added to a “saved for later” list—which you can access from anywhere in Office 365.

This feature has been requested for a long time, and I’m definitely going to use it at least a couple times a week!

Good to know:

  • Documents are accessible from the Saved tab in OneDrive on Web.
  • The Save for later command is accessible on files within personal and shared Libraries.
  • Consider updating your user training (adoption) and notifying your help desk (governance).

Microsoft is rolling this feature out to customers in early August, with worldwide rollout expected by the end of September. Click here to read more on the official Microsoft blog.

Private channels in Microsoft Teams

This has been the number one requested feature for Microsoft Teams since its launch. And the wait. Is finally. Over.

With private channels almost upon us, let’s take a moment to consider why this is such an important feature for so many people.

Imagine: You created a team for a project. You invited your colleagues, but you also invited your external suppliers as guests. The result? Everyone—internal and external—has access to all the team conversations.

Private channels allow organizations a space for focused, secure collaboration among a subset of a team.

Microsoft 365 Roadmap, featured id: 50588

Yes, you could create a library within the SharePoint team site and break the permission inheritance. But that’s far from ideal. You would have to create a second team and use that one for guests—which isn’t a great user experience because then people have to manage two teams instead of one.

The question that remains is: How are private channels going to be technically implemented?

Currently, a team is connected to an Office 365 Group. How is that going to work? Thanks to my MVP status I have the answers—but unfortunately it’s still NDA.

I will say that the technical implications are going to raise a lot of questions.

Good to know:

  • Team owners can see all private channels in a team
  • Team members can only see the private channels they have been added to.
  • A lock icon indicates a private channel.
  • Consider updating your user training (adoption), updating any user level policy around Private Channel creation (governance), and notifying your help desk (governance).
  • This update does not apply to Office 365 subscriptions in GCC

Microsoft is gradually rolling this out to customers in early September 2019. The roll out will be completed worldwide by the end of September.

Cross-product, not multi-product

These are three very exciting updates!

My favorite has to be the arrival of private channels, mostly because our customers have been requesting this feature since the launch of Microsoft Teams. This makes internal/external collaboration a whole lot easier to manage. Hopefully, private channels are going to solve this issue. Fingers crossed!

Personally, I think Skype for Business retiring is great news. Most customers aren’t really fans of a hybrid infrastructure where multiple tools serve the same purpose. They want a cross-product approach that lets them move seamlessly between whatever tool works best.

The release of Save for later reinforces this. Not only

People have been clamouring for clarity and now they have it.

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