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Microsoft 365 News and Updates – August 2021

Microsoft 365 is constantly evolving. So much so that it is often hard to keep up with all the new features.

The Microsoft 365 Blog is a fantastic place to find out what’s new in Microsoft 365. However, there is a lot of information there. A lot of these is really only relevant for large, enterprise size businesses. So, to save you time, we’ve picked out the bits we think are most relevant. The bits you can implement quickly and might save you time, or make your Microsoft 365 experience that bit better.

Here’s some of the features in Microsoft 365 you can start using today!

Create tasks from messages and more in Microsoft Teams

Create tasks right from a Teams message: Messaging conversations often result in follow-up actions. But creating a task in a separate app can be disruptive. To help, Microsoft has added the ability to quickly create tasks from any Microsoft Teams chat without switching apps or windows.

To create a task, click the ellipses () in the pop-out menu, then select More actions and choose Create task. You’ll now be able to track it in the Tasks app in Teams. Tasks created from Teams messages will appear in the Tasks app for Teams.

Spotlight multiple users during a meeting: Organisers and presenters can now spotlight up to seven participants simultaneously during meetings. Many meetings that have more than one speaker or presenter. Multiple spotlights are a great way to focus all attendees’ views on those specific video feeds. Once a single participant has been spotlighted, simply click on the context menu of your additional participant(s) and select Add Spotlight.

Manage your attendees’ camera settings: You can now manage attendee audio and video permissions in Teams meetings to help prevent disruptions. You can configure the permissions to have all attendees’ camera-enabled or disabled before the meeting. You can also enable or disable the ability for individual attendees to use their cameras.

Quickly gather feedback in Teams meetings with polls—Polls are a great way to turn passive listeners into active participants. Forms’ integration with Microsoft Teams now brings the power of polls to meetings, helping you conduct more engaging, informative, and productive meetings. Meeting presenters can prepare polls in advance and launch the polls during meetings that attendees can easily view and answer. You can get started by adding the Forms app to your meeting tabs.

Microsoft Forms integration with Microsoft Teams now brings the power of polls to meetings, here is a sample poll screen.

Remove unwelcome background noise in Teams meetings— Last this year, Microsoft released the ability to minimise distracting background noise in videos on Microsoft Stream.

We are excited to share that they’ve brought this technology to Teams meetings. This real-time noise suppression will help remove unwelcome background noise during your meetings, making easier to hear speakers in loud and distracting environments.

Minimise busywork and maximise impact

Get things done with less effort in Outlook mobile with Cortana: Mobile devices and apps have made it easier to respond from anywhere, but small screens and keyboards bring their own challenges. Cortana is now available in Outlook mobile, enabling you to get work done, save time, and find what you need using your voice.

Ask Cortana when your next meeting is, to send an email, or to set up a meeting with your manager. Use natural language with no need to memorise commands or use specific sentence structure.

Automate meeting scheduling: The average time it takes to schedule meetings is 6 to 29 minutes. Introducing Scheduler, a new Microsoft 365 service that works with Cortana to automate meeting scheduling. Just add Cortana to your email and ask something as simple as “Cortana, please find a time to meet next week.” Cortana will then work with the Scheduler service to find times that work best for everyone and send out invites.

Reduce repetitive tasks in Excel for the web with Office Scripts: Office Scripts are a popular way for users to automate their actions in Excel regardless of their programming experience. Office Scripts is now generally available for all eligible users in Excel for the web.

To get started, use the Action Recorder to record the actions you take in Excel. These actions are then translated into a script that you can run at any time. You can also use the Code Editor to customize the scripts you create using the Office Scripts API. Happy scripting!