Improve virtual meetings and bring consultations online—here’s what’s new to Microsoft 365 in March

What a month it’s been. In just a few weeks, the way we work and live has changed. Our customers’ needs have never been clearer, or more urgent, than they are right now. And our top priority is to help you meet those needs by building the tools that help you enable your employees to work remotely; helping you find the right digital tools to transform your in-person events into virtual ones; and securing organizational assets to help you protect your business, even in challenging times.

This month, we have new features and capabilities designed to help keep your business moving during COVID-19 and beyond. New capabilities in Microsoft Teams, for instance, help you host more effective, inclusive, and focused online meetings and offer virtual solutions for one-on-one consultations. A crisis management site in SharePoint helps your organization quickly share information during emergencies. And an improved search experience in Outlook allows you to quickly find what you need in your email and calendar.

Below, we will get into all the Microsoft 365 news this month. But before we do, I want to once again point you to the monthly Modern Workplace podcast. This time, host Alex Bradley and I chat about what we’ve learned about remote work, both from our experiences at Microsoft and the experiences of our customers. Have a listen.

Host more inclusive, focused, online meetings

This month, we announced a host of new Teams capabilities that reflect our commitment to two things: building the very best online meeting experience for our customers, and bringing technological solutions to Firstline Workers and healthcare employees.

We’ve all been in a remote meeting when a participant is loudly typing on their keyboard, or someone is sitting near a vacuum running in the background. Real-time noise suppression minimizes distracting background noise, allowing you to hear what’s being said.

In large meetings, it can sometimes be difficult for remote participants to chime in. The raise hand feature lets anyone in the meeting send a visual signal that they have something to say.

Industrial workers need to communicate and collaborate effectively while staying safe. Through a new integration between Teams and RealWear head-mounted devices, Firstline Workers will be able to access information and communicate hands-free with remote experts from their job site.

Conducting virtual meetings is a common requirement for situations such as healthcare patient consults, client meetings, or job candidate interviews. Announced earlier this month, the Bookings app in Teams makes it easy to schedule, manage, and conduct virtual appointments.

Teams will soon enable you to pop out chats into a separate window to help you streamline your workflow and navigate more easily between ongoing conversations.

Offline and low-bandwidth support lets you read chat messages and write responses, even without an internet connection, making it easier for you to move things forward no matter where you are.

We’re also adding new devices certified for Teams. The Yealink VC210, now generally available, delivers a meeting experience for smaller conference rooms that’s simple to install and manage. In addition, the Bose Noise Cancelling headphones 700 UC will be available for purchase in late spring.

Finally, Microsoft 365 Business Voice in Teams is now available in the U.S., enabling small and mid-sized businesses to make and receive phone calls from anywhere. We also have a new Microsoft 365 Enterprise plan lineup that includes additional licensing options for Firstline Workers.

Check out new Microsoft 365 offerings for small and medium-sized businesses

This month, we debuted Microsoft 365 Personal and Family, an evolution from our Office 365 for individuals and families offering. We also announced named changes to several of our small and medium-sized business and Enterprise offerings. Office 365 Business Essentials is now Microsoft 365 Business Basic; Office 365 Business Premium is now Microsoft 365 Business Standard; and Microsoft 365 Business is now Microsoft 365 Business Premium. Meanwhile, Office 365 Business and Office 365 ProPlus will be called Microsoft 365 Apps. While today this is a change in name only, we’re excited about the new apps and services we’ve added to our subscriptions over the last few years and the new innovations we’ll be adding in the coming months. These changes reflect our ambition to continue to drive innovation in Microsoft 365 that goes well beyond what customers traditionally think of as Office.

Respond to emergency events

Quickly build an emergency management site to connect people and information—Unexpected events like COVID-19 highlight the importance of establishing and keeping the lines of communication open. A new crisis management site in SharePoint enables your organization to consolidate news, related resources, and topical Q&A in response to emergency events in under two hours. Just head to your SharePoint start page and select Create site > Communication site to start configuring news, links, Q&As, site navigation, highlighted people, and more.

Connect and collaborate with new app updates

We’re announcing new app updates to help streamline conversations, create professional content, and maximize productivity.

Engage with Yammer conversations directly within your inbox—The new interactive Yammer emails in Outlook on the web enable users to interact with Yammer conversations, polls, and questions, and deliver praise. Now you can see the full Yammer thread and reply, like, vote, attach files, share GIFs, and even watch videos right from your inbox. These features are now available to all Enterprise tenants with releases in Outlook for Windows, Outlook for Mac, and Outlook for iOS and Android coming next quarter.

Create professional-looking content more easily with Office mobileYou can now view and edit data in Excel in a simple, digestible card format, eliminating the need to span across columns that extend beyond the limits of the screen. Also new to Office mobile, PowerPoint Designer helps you create professional presentations with design, formatting, and iconography ideas for your content. These features will be available in the next few months in the Office app for Android and iOS.

Collaborate on documents and assign tasks—Now, users can easily assign tasks to document collaborators in Word and Excel for the web. Simply @mention your teammates in the comments of your online Word or Excel document, check the box to assign it, and they’ll receive an email letting them know a task was assigned to them with a link directly to the document. This feature will be available in April with Tasks in PowerPoint for the web coming in June.

Enjoy a new connection experience in Visio for the web—A new feature in Visio for the web lets users move the connection point on a shape for better alignment. Users can also easily add multiple arrows between shapes to distinctively represent to-and-from relationships, and more. To get started, hover over the edge of the shape until green circles highlight the possible connection points, then click on the desired point and drag the connector to the desired destination point. This feature is now available to all Visio Plan 1 and Plan 2 users.

Search your email and calendar more easily

We are announcing new innovations in Microsoft Search that recognize natural language as a helpful way to find what you need in Outlook for iOS and Android. Simply find your emails, calendar events, contact information, and files faster and easier by using everyday language to narrow your search. You can either speak it or type it. Learn more in this blog.

Streamline common IT tasks

This month, we’re announcing two new services to help streamline common resources for IT.

Modernize your print infrastructure with a cloud-based print solution—We’re announcing the private preview of Universal Print, a new cloud-based print infrastructure that creates a simple, secure print experience. Now, organizations no longer need to maintain on-premises print servers or install printer drivers on devices, reducing the time and effort needed by IT to maintain the print environment. And users get a straightforward print experience that makes it easy to discover and print to nearby printers. Customers can register for participation in the private preview.

Seamlessly move your cloud files into OneDrive and SharePoint—We’re pleased to announce that Mover, a cloud-to-cloud file migration tool, is now available to Microsoft 365 customers worldwide. Mover supports migration from over a dozen cloud service providers—including Box, Dropbox, Egnyte, and Google Drive—into OneDrive and SharePoint, enabling seamless file collaboration across Microsoft 365 apps and services. Mover makes it easy and inexpensive (it’s free!) to manage files that currently exist outside of Microsoft 365 in other cloud service provider offerings. To get started, sign in with your Office 365 credentials and follow the prompts.

From new meetings capabilities in Teams to updates that make storing files on the cloud easier, the announcements above reflect our ongoing commitment to continuing to improve and evolve the tools you rely on. But we also want to be here for you at this critical moment when so many organizations are adjusting to full-time remote work. In addition to these monthly updates, we are using this blog as a space to exchange remote-work tips, information, and customer stories, so check back here for frequent updates.

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