What’s New in Microsoft 365 October 2021 – New Office 365 Features

New Office 365 features are coming! We reveal the top new Microsoft 365 features coming this October. Be sure to catch the VICO365 User Group each month to keep up to date!

SharePoint Hub to Hub Site Association  

Rollout: Mid-late October  

There was a lot of push for Microsoft to improve on their global navigation with SharePoint hub to hub site association. To this point, Microsoft’s global navigation strategy was creating a home site, turning on global navigation, enabling Viva notifications in Teams, etc. This update has come pretty late. Although likely to cause some confusion, we can see it becoming a popular feature in the future. For example, this update will allow you to use hub sites to take a department or work portfolio and expand on them.  

Microsoft has been saying for some time that they were not going to implement this change, so we’re excited that they have! This feature has a Navo-like component in that in helps to create a top-level navigation across SharePoint. Microsoft says that associating a SharePoint site with a hub site makes it much simpler for users to discover related content and site activity across associated SharePoint sites. 

The SharePoint hub site will inherit the look of the hub site and mirror the navigation bar and additional features and links. 

SharePoint Hub to Hub Site Association - a new Office 365 features coming 2021.

How to associate a SharePoint site with a hub site 

  1. On your site, select Settings Settings for SPO Migration tool then select Site information. 
  1. In the Edit site information panel, under Hub site association, select the hub site that you want to associate your site with. Then select Save. (Only one hub site can be chosen to associate your site) 
  1. If the hub site requires approvals, the site will be associated once the request is approved.  
  1. If the hub has chosen to enable hub permissions, a checkbox will appear. Checking the box will add visitors managed by your hub to your site. You can choose to disable or re-enable at any time through site permissions.  
  1. Once the sites have associated, the look of the site will change to match the hub site. The hub site navigation bar will also appear at the top. 

View in File Explorer in Microsoft Edge 

Rollout: Early-Late November 

Sean ranted about this feature in the past, and we think its maddening that Microsoft would bring it back! Those who have used SharePoint for a long time will know that you could open your file explorer in a browser. You could, in this case, map drives onto file servers. If you installed office on your machine, it gave functionality of connecting lists to share Outlook contacts and calendars and allowed you to open the file explorer window into a SharePoint library using a browser.  

We consider this a step back; just because you can now map drives, doesn’t mean that you should. It potentially opens you up to viruses and other issues, and in our opinion is giving into pressure by those that are refusing to embrace better/modern methods to collaborate.  

It must also be noted that devices must be on Microsoft Edge build 93 or later, and that you’ll need to enable the ConfigureViewInFileExplorer policy for Microsoft Edge.  

Private Drafts for SharePoint Pages and News 

Rollout: Late October to November 

Microsoft is enabling private drafts for SharePoint pages and news. This means you’ll be able to start putting a SharePoint site, page, or news article together, and save it as a private draft. This means no one else can see it as you’re making changes and finalizing your content.  

We think, in practice, Microsoft will be looking to get rid of the major and minor publishing options (thankfully) for these light touch/editing scenarios, which are better suited to rigid document management than page drafting. The ability to save private drafts in SharePoint, and to share the draft out to other editors as needed will be a useful, simplified way to manage your Intranet page design and release.  

Microsoft Viva Learning App  

Rollout: TBD  

The Microsoft Viva application is extending many of their LinkedIn Learning courses for free, as well as a wealth of Microsoft training, in your Microsoft Teams application.  

Microsoft plans to add learning tools through Viva to ensure you remain in the Microsoft learning ecosystem. Within Viva, you can recommend learning content to peers or new employees that will be going through onboarding. You can also recommend courses to one individual, or to configured distribution groups within your tenant’s Azure Active Directory.  

New Search Results Page 

Rollout: Early-Late November 

We all know that currently, Microsoft Teams search leaves something to be desired. Teams search used contextual content that leads to a volume issue when searching for documents you haven’t used recently. We’re hoping that Microsoft improves their search AI, and the new search results page is the first step towards that.  

The new Microsoft Teams search page will make searching faster and smarter. Microsoft has announced that finding messages, people, text, and files will be more intuitive. This will be powered by AI. AI will assess the relevance of people and content you engage with most in Teams and other Microsoft 365 services. This is one of the new Office 365 features that we are excited to see!

New Microsoft Teams Feature Teams Search Results Regroove.

Reply to Specific Chat Messages 

Rollout: Mid-September to Early October 

To reply to a specific chat message, hover over the message you want to reply to in Microsoft Teams chat, click the ellipses (…), then click “Reply”. Your response will reply with the original text embedded. Quoted replies are currently restricted to chat messages and channel conversations, and external messages are not supported yet.  

This feature came to iPhone first, then to the desktop app and browser. It’s really helpful to keep conversations more aligned.  

New Whiteboard 

Rollout: TBD  

We’re keen to see the new Whiteboard in Microsoft Teams. While the previous product was certainly functional, the new application looks to heavily improve on its predecessor. While the functionality update is great, the real news with the whiteboard app is that it will be stored in OneDrive rather than in the United States. That’s important for organizations that care about (or have compliance around) where their data can live.  

On desktop, laptop, and tablet, the new whiteboard will board inking tools, and content creation menus are separated to reduce cognitive load. An app bar at the top of the whiteboard will provide all your collaboration and board-specific properties. On mobile devices, the creation panel and board controls will be hidden to optimize real estate for viewing and collaboration. Large, colourful icons will make it easy for mouse, touch, and pen users.  

Microsoft Planner: Rich text and images in Planner task notes 

Rollout: TBD  

Microsoft Planner is all about delegating tasks and getting things done right. Assigning a task includes steps to completion, due dates, and other important information to ensure your team has everything they need.  

Microsoft is implementing rich text within Planner to enhance this ability even further. Having rich text in Planner so that you can be more detailed and eloquent in your instructions is a welcome addition.  

Want to learn more about the new features coming to Microsoft? Join our next meet-up as part of the VICO365 User Group! You can check out our previous VICO365 webinars here on the Regroove YouTube channel. Never be behind on new Office 365 features!

Looking for more exciting new MS Office 365 new features? Check out our blog here on our Top 5 Features.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.