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Exciting New features in Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has announced a number of new features, some have already been introduced and some are being introducing in the next few months.  With working from home becoming the ‘new normal’, it is important now more than ever, to make sure you are properly set up on Microsoft Teams and using it to its full potential.

Here is a summary of some of the new features in Microsoft Teams:

Together Mode

This is designed to make people feel like they are in the same meeting.  Using “AI Segmentation technology”, multiple video feeds are digitally placed in a shared background.  This scales up to 49 people at the same time.  Currently there is “together mode in auditorium” and “together mode in coffee shop” available, with more “room” types to follow.

Large Gallery View

This shows up to 49 meeting video feeds.

Live Captions now with Speaker Attribution

When someone is speaking, it will now show the name of the speaker and live captions of what they are saying.

Live Transcript in Meeting

There is a live transcript of what’s being said in the meeting which is also available for review after the meeting.  This is very useful to be able to refer back to in case you missed something during the meeting or need to check back on something like an action point.

Microsoft has recently moved from having 250 active participants to 300 and their intention is to move to 1000 participants in the future.  If you use the Whiteboard facility in your meetings on Teams then you will soon be able to enjoy improved collaboration including faster loading times, sticky notes, text and drag and drop capabilities to give you better organisation of your whiteboard.  This will also enable team members who don’t have access to a touchscreen device to participate in whiteboarding sessions too.  Microsoft has also announced some exciting new features relating to staff wellbeing.  To find out more, watch this great video.

In a previous blog post we told you about the benefits of using Microsoft Planner with Teams, one of the exciting new features introduced by Microsoft this month is that SharePoint lists are now available in Teams.  This enables you to create lists to manage work and collaborate with your team by adding the list to a channel in Teams.

Teams is becoming an integral part of our day-to-day working life, from conference calls, holding team meetings to online collaboration, all the Microsoft 365 products are becoming intrinsically linked to improve efficiency and productivity with Teams being the cornerstone.

Ilkley IT Services want to make sure you are getting the most out of your Microsoft 365 products and we understand how confusing it can be.  We will talk you through every aspect of the various products within the Microsoft 365 range, how these will benefit you, and also how the products work together to ensure improved productivity, efficiency and collaboration for you and your team.  Get in touch with us today, we would love to hear from you!

Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: SharePoint

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all. In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Microsoft products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

Microsoft SharePoint is primarily a document management and storage system, but it is also highly configurable. It is a secure place to store, organise, share and access information from any device. It helps you to manage content, knowledge and applications to empower teamwork, quickly find information and seamlessly collaborate across the organisation.

Let’s look at the main advantages of using Microsoft SharePoint:

Saves you money:
Having a total cloud solution as part of your Microsoft 365 subscription, which you are already paying for, eliminates the costs of a separate cloud account and data storage plan. Also, simplifying your operating systems, can prevent you from spending additional money on fixing issues.

Enhanced Security:
Security is an everyday concern for businesses. Using SharePoint can prevent some of those security issues. Your teams can share vital information without revealing any sensitive information in documents through SharePoint real-time collaborations. Hosting your information on a single platform also reduces your risk of attacks. You can monitor user behaviour to help ensure compliance with any internal policies you might have.

Collaboration:
SharePoint is a platform which makes it easy to create and share business information from a single location. It can seamlessly connect employees with documents and information.

Easy Information Exchange:
Easy information exchange goes hand in hand with improving collaboration. Simplifying access to business information for everyone enables collaboration and keeps everyone informed and up to date. Also, users won’t have the same version control issues that are experienced when storing files on a server, you can maintain a single document, allow multiple users to continuously update it, all with a record of the changes and the ability to revert back to an earlier version if needed.

Better productivity:
Microsoft SharePoint makes it easier to transmit data, track information, work on documents and group projects and so much more without confusion or delays.

A more productive workforce means better business efficiency and profitability. Using Microsoft SharePoint can transform the way you store information and your team works and collaborates. If you are not using Microsoft SharePoint yet, it is worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business.

If you feel overwhelmed by the various features of SharePoint, and are confused about how to set it up to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you to customise it for your organisation. We will talk you through every aspect of SharePoint, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running in no time!  Contact us today, we would love to have a chat with you!

Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: Planner

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all.  In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Microsoft products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

Microsoft Planner is an easy-to-use mobile and web-based application that comes with most business subscriptions.  With Planner you and your team can create project plans, assign and collaborate on tasks and see the team’s progress.  Planner allows you to create Kanban boards (a workflow management method which helps you visualise your work, maximise efficiency and become more agile) using content-rich task cards with files, checklists, labels and more.

Microsoft Planner is very easy to use, each project is stored as a card that can be accessed easily from your dashboard.  You can move things around and easily edit them.  It is the ideal solution for a team who are looking for a basic task management app.

There are many advantages to using Microsoft Planner, particularly when using Planner and Teams together.  Microsoft has integrated Planner with Teams so you can add a Planner tab in one of your Team’s channels.  This allows your team to create and organise tasks with Teams.  Tasks can be launched and assigned within the Microsoft Teams platform, eliminating the need to switch back and forth between platforms.  All tasks can be viewed through Microsoft Teams as well as Microsoft Planner, making it less likely employees could potentially miss a vital task they need to complete.

If you are not using Microsoft Planner yet, it is definitely worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business.  It can transform the way your team works together and manages projects.  If you feel overwhelmed by the various features of Planner, including its integration with Teams, and are confused about how to set it up to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you.  We will talk you through every aspect of Microsoft Planner and Teams, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running in no time!

 

Microsoft is ending support for Internet Explorer

This week Microsoft has announced its timeline for ending its support for Internet Explorer 11 (IE 11) by this time next year.  In the article by Microsoft, they have said that on the 30 November 2020, the Microsoft Teams web app will no longer support IE 11 and on the 17 August 2021, the remaining Microsoft 365 apps and services will no longer support IE 11.

This means that after these dates, customers will have a degraded experience or will be unable to connect to Microsoft 365 apps and services on IE 11.   If you still choose to use IE 11 with a degraded experience, new Microsoft 365 features will not be available or certain features may cease to work when accessing the app or service.  Microsoft have said that they know the change will be difficult for some customers, they believe that customers will get the most of Microsoft 365 using the new Microsoft Edge.

Although over the years IE became the dominant web browser that everyone used, enjoying 90% of the market, and has been around for 25 years, it may surprise you to know that it is not very secure.  Over the years, Microsoft ignored web standards and continually missed essential updates and did not follow the guidelines set by the World Wide Web Consortium (the organisation that establishes standards for web technologies).  New features were only added to IE as part of a major product release, which often took years to be implemented.  This continual lack of updates leaves you as the user exposed and unsafe when browsing the internet using IE11 and more vulnerable to being targeted by cyber-attacks.

Naturally, competitors started to appear online and in 2004 Mozilla introduced Firefox and then in 2008 Google Chrome was introduced.  Interestingly, in the 10 years since Google Chrome was launched, it was updated 70 times, meanwhile Internet Explorer was updated only 4 times between its eighth version and its final one (version 11).   Of course there is also the new Microsoft Edge, this is based on a Chronium codebase which is the same as the foundations of Google Chrome but currently this has less than 2% of the market whilst Google’s browser has 65% of the market.  With so much of our information freely available when we search online, you might be looking for more privacy when browsing the internet.  Try out Brave, it provides unmatched speed, security and privacy by blocking trackers.

Modern web browsers have the ‘edge’ offering better security, speed, compatibility and plugin options.  Now is the time to check if the sites you regularly visit will still work, for example many banking sites don’t work in anything other than IE so it would be worth contacting the owner of the site to let them know.   There is still time to do this, rather than being caught out at a later stage with a site that doesn’t work.

Another old technology which is going end of life at the end of the year is Adobe Flash Player.  Adobe will stop distributing and updating Flash Player after 31 December 2020.

Technology does not stand still or nor should we.  We have to keep moving with the times and it is important to make sure we are not left behind using old versions of products which don’t work properly and are no longer supported which poses a security risk to us online.  If you would like more information about anything in this article or feel baffled about which browser is right for you and what action you should take, then contact Ilkley IT, we would love to have a chat about how we can help you.

Microsoft 365 Spotlight focus: OneDrive

Microsoft 365 has so many different products that users often feel overwhelmed with not knowing which ones to use and how to use them and then end up not using many of them at all. In this blog series we will spotlight each of the Office products and break them down to show you the benefits of using each one and how you can incorporate them into your business to help you to work more efficiently.

OneDrive is the Office cloud service that connects you to all your files. You can store and protect your files, share them with others and access them at any time of the day from any location and from any device. You can share photos, Office documents, other files and entire folders.

One of the biggest benefits to your business is OneDrive’s file sharing and collaboration. This can transform how you work in your business, particularly now that most of us are working remotely and from home. You will no longer have to email large attachments or try to keep track of multiple versions, you can simply save your file to OneDrive, share the file with the relevant people and you will always have the most up-to-date version. This will eliminate any worries of not working on the latest version. There is also an option to view the version history and restore older versions of files if needed at any point.

There is also real-time co-authoring on documents saved on OneDrive, meaning you can work on files at the same time with colleagues and external people. You will be able to see their changes and they will be able to see yours, as you make them. This will increase productivity and will really help to speed up the length of time it takes to get work completed.

If you are worried about keeping your information secure, the files and folders you store in OneDrive are private until you decide to share them. OneDrive files and folders can be shared with colleagues in your business as well as externally, but again, this is completely within your control as you can see who a OneDrive file is shared with and stop sharing any time. You can also restrict the level of access.

OneDrive can also be used to connect you to your files in Microsoft SharePoint and Teams, which we will also cover as part of this series.

If you are not using OneDrive yet, it is definitely worth seriously considering starting to use it within your business. It can transform the way you work with your team and external people. If you feel overwhelmed by all the different features of OneDrive and are confused about how to use it to its full potential, our team at Ilkley IT can help you. We will talk you through every aspect of OneDrive, explaining each feature and how it works to ensure you are up and running and using OneDrive in no time!

Contact us today, we would love to have a chat with you!