We always think very carefully if and how we communicate changes to our Microsoft365 environment. Generally, changes that affect all users, and may lead to questions or confusion, will be posted on the intranet. We do this for about 2 or 3 changes a year. Think about “the new Outlook on the web” last summer, and the new design of the SharePoint homepage earlier this year. Changes with a lesser impact are communicated through our dedicated Yammer group for people who take an interest, and during webinars. Additionally we regularly revise our training and webinar materials.
So, we were a tad worried when we found that some new functionality that had been in our tenant, and had been communicated, suddenly disappeared. In one case we found out that the functionality had been retracted, but we have no clue about the others.
Perhaps one of my readers can help?
1. The SharePoint start page
A few months ago we published an article on the intranet that there would be a new SharePoint start page. The column on the left hand side would be removed and some of the info there would move to below the site cards. We prepared the communication and an explanatory screenshot. When we could finally confirm that also our non-targeted release users had it, we published the article.
Around March and the start of the Corona-crisis, I noticed that my SharePoint start page had reverted back to the old setup, both at work and in my own tenant. I checked the Roadmap, the tenant Message Center, the internet, but nothing came up.
Only half May I found out that I had missed this article, which has a small paragraph on this topic.
Well, thanks for that. And I could not find the #192001 in my Message center, nor in that from my work tenant. 😦
2. Save documents for later in SharePoint
I was already aware of the Save for Later options in SharePoint News, but I was happily surprised to find that this function would also be available for regular documents in SharePoint sites. I saw it a few months ago, immediately saved a few documents and told our Yammer group.
I still have them saved on my SharePoint page. But the functionality is gone in both my private and my work tenant!
Now that the initial shock of working from home, and learning to work with Microsoft365, has been absorbed, I notice that my colleagues are quickly trying to get their work done “with the new tools”.
My organization is also a research and education institute for nurses, psychologists and psychiatrists and other therapists, so we have a lot of research, knowledge sharing and training going on in our core business.
Suddenly I am being called frequently by colleagues who are used to organize face-to-face events, but want to set up a webinar now.
For the larger and more formal events we advise Live Events (which I am currently trying to get proficient in), but for smaller and less formal events a regular Teams Meeting can be used as well.
My own experience
My colleague and I are still giving webinars on the various aspects of Teams almost every week, using a Teams Meeting.
These take an hour, have up to 10 people, can also be taken in the evenings, and we make sure everyone can ask their questions. They fill up rather quickly!
We generally do a personal introduction round for all, then present a few explanatory slides, give a demo, recap what we have shown, and ask for final questions.
We have found that people like to sign up, because not only does it give them an opportunity to learn new things, brush up their skills, or allows them to ask their questions, but also because they like to connect with their colleagues, who they have not seen for more than two months by now. So it is fulfilling a social need, too!
For those situations a regular Teams Meeting does the work, so here’s how to organize that.
1. Create a Form to collect submissions
We have a professional tool available for the larger and more complicated events, but for smaller and impromptu webinars you can use a Form.
Just create one and share it with a colleague (as a back-up).
If you have internal attendees only, collect names and emails automatically.
If you have externals joining too, please make sure you use the setting “Anyone with the link can respond” and ask for (at least) their email address.
2. Communicate your event in the regular way
If you are sending emails, publishing on internet or intranet, you can add the link to the Form (or to the formal system) to collect responses.
If you are using printed materials (wall posters, flyers) you can add the QR code to the Form.
The Form will give you a spreadsheet with email addresses.
3. Schedule the Teams meeting
You can do this from Outlook or from Teams.
If you want to send the standard invitation to everyone, you’d better use Outlook as I have found this works better with contact persons, email distribution lists or Excel files with email addresses. Also, if you want to hide people’s email addresses, use Outlook.
You can add an attachment with meeting instructions – I liked this one for external users. How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guest
If you want to use another way of communication (e.g. an email with instructions and some more information), you can best use Teams, invite your presenters only and then add the link to the meeting to the rest of the information.
This post will tell you more on the pros and cons of Teams or Outlook when scheduling.
For a presentation for a large audience including external attendees I would suggest to add a lobby for externals, and make sure everyone except the presenter(s) enters the meeting as an attendee.
Arrange the lobby and presenter settings as explained in my earlier post.
5. Send links and instructions
If you have used Outlook, you will have done this already, but in case you want to send a different email than the standard invitation, you can add the link as grabbed under 3 and add instructions. For internals it may not be necessary (although it may not hurt) and for externals you can use something like these: a link or as a PDF: How to join a Teams Meeting – as a guest
6. Prepare and rehearse
In most cases presenters will share a PowerPoint presentation, and it is a good idea to make a PDF version as a handout. We usually share these via the chat during the webinar. Be aware that external attendees can not access the chat when they have logged off, so tell them when you are sharing it.
If presenters are giving a web demo, it helps to have a script, so they know what they are going to show. They should keep the script visible.
Making screenshots of the screens they plan to show (in case the internet or wifi drops, or the website is suddenly unavailable) is always a good idea.
On the day of the event, the presenter clicks the link to the meeting well before time.
The Teams app has a Test call option, to check if audio has been set up correctly. Type /testcall in the Command bar and you will be taken to that old test call we know and ❤ from Skype. You will even receive a report!
Of course the presenters have also turned off all kinds of sounds and on-screen notifications. You don’t want to know the email previews I have seen arriving while people were presenting. 😜
Please also ask presenters to check their hair, clothes and background before people enter the meeting. Of course they can blur or select a background, but it helps if they know they are not sitting in front of that flipover with the upcoming reorganisation or divestiture written out.
Ask them to close all tabs and programmes that they do not need today, so they do not run the risk of accidentally sharing something confidential or embarrassing.
Have you ever started a brand new Microsoft365 subscription and looked at your OneDrive? I haven’t – but when I recently gave a basic tour of the Microsoft365 suite to a new colleague she asked me what I meant with the “Attachments” folder in OneDrive, as she did not see it.
Nor did I when she shared her screen.
But once she saved a file from Outlook to her OneDrive the folder was created.
I had already noticed earlier that I sometimes get these folders in my OneDrive, which I could not remember creating, so I decided to find out.
I removed all folders in my OneDrive and ended up with a completely empty page:
And then started to do a few things and noted when a folder was being created and what it was called. The end result 👇
When you save an attachment from Outlook to OneDrive, the Attachments folder is created. By default you add all attachments there, although I wish you could select a folder of your own choice, which saves time.
When I created a new Notebook, this folder was added. It is pretty straightforward. I think your personal Notebook gets created in the top level but as I do not have it anymore, I am not 100% sure.
This folder is created when you create a Form with a File Upload as a Q&A type.
Fortunately, you get an explanation of this behaviour.
Apart from the name of the folder being rather generic, you have to click through 3 nested subfolders before you get to the file that has been uploaded.
I sense an opportunity for optimization. 😉
3. Microsoft Teams Data
Have you ever seen the option “Open meeting notes” when you were on a Teams meeting? I am still finding out why I sometimes see it and sometimes not. At first I thought it was an organizer’s privilege (like “End Meeting”) , but the organizer of our daily work meeting does not see it either.
But I digress! If you click “Show meeting notes” in your Teams popup behind the … you will open a small side panel where you can start typing meeting notes. They will be stored in the Microsoft Teams Data folder in a subfolder called Wiki.
5. Microsoft Teams Chat files
This folder is created to store files that you share during a chat. This can be both a 1:1 chat, a group chat (outside of a Team site), or a chat in a meeting.
This folder gets created when you connect your phone camera to OneDrive. After that, your pictures will automagically be added to OneDrive. Unfortunately it has a lot of nesting, like year and month.
👉 Be careful if you have a F3 license – you only have 2 GB of storage space so using this option may fill your OneDrive quickly.
7. Office Lens
If you install the Office Lens app on your telephone and you select OneDrive as the storage place of choice, a new folder is created with your first image. It is a plain list of files. I prefer to use the Office Lens functionality that comes with the OneNote, OneDrive and Teams apps, however. It saves me an app. 🙂
Wait, there’s more!
I tried adding documents to a few other applications (Yammer, ToDo, Planner) but they do not store files in OneDrive. I expected it in ToDo, being something personal.
The other day I installed Visio Data Visualizer which also created a folder. As I could not get it to work and it kept popping up in an annoying fashion I deleted it, and did not want to install it again just for this test. Guess I am not alone in my dislike according to the reviews.
Have I missed any?
👍 Your OneDrive serves as the hub for your personal documents in Microsoft365, so it makes sense that documents from all kinds of actions and applications are stored here. I expect that more applications will create folders over time.
👍 You can delete these folders and their content; when you start using the app again they will be recreated.
👎 Behaviour is explained for Forms and Pictures, but it should be explained everywhere.
👎 The naming convention and experience could benefit from streamlining, e.g. folder names, or the structuring of subfolders.
👎 I would like to see this also for attachments in ToDo, as this is your personal task list
👎 Users with an F3 license only have 2 GB of storage space in their OneDrive and they should be made aware of these folders, to avoid unpleasant surprises with a full OneDrive. I have written about cleaning your OneDrive before.
Over the past few weeks I have found out that there is a preference for one or the other. And, there’s more!
Teams or Outlook?
If you are scheduling a meeting with people from your organization, Teams is the fastest option. You do not have to think to make it a Teams meeting (although I saw on the Roadmap that soon, meetings scheduled in Outlook will be Teams meetings by default) and you can also select a channel to meet in.
However, if you want to invite people from outside your organization, you’d better use Outlook.
👎 You will need to toggle that Teams Meeting switch (for now)
👍 You can prohibit forwarding (although that appears only to work for Microsoft email users)
👍 You can hide the email addresses from others, which may be a privacy requirement
👍 Outlook can auto-complete external email addresses if you have used them before
Of course those benefits go for internal meetings as well, but they are extra useful for externals.
Do I schedule it myself or can I ask someone else?
In my organization many departments have a group mailbox. It is quite common for the department secretary to organize the meetings on demand, from the group mailbox, in Outlook. My colleague and I also use our group mailbox to schedule our webinars in Outlook, as group mailboxes do not have a license and hence no Teams to schedule it from.
The first time we forgot to invite ourselves, which meant we did not have the meeting in our agenda and we could not get into the meeting from Teams. 🙂 Of course we quickly sorted that out, but you may want to tell people to always invite everyone with their personal account.
The organizer does not have to attend the meeting per se. As long as there is at least one presenter (from the host organization) to let people from the lobby into the meeting, the meeting can proceed.
Right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”
We started with a variety of email programmes, which all give different views and results. But all emails contain the link to the meeting, which is just a link, albeit a long and non-intuitive one. So in the end, everyone uses the same link in a browser or in the app. Let’s see what that brings.
I have the following people in my meeting:
Myself, as the organiser and presenter, joining from my own tenant, initially via web (Edge), later through the app on my laptop
Gerald Adams, an attendee joining from web (Chrome)
Kim, an attendee joining from the Windows 10 app, not signed in
Ellen iPhone, an attendee joining from iPhone
My work’s account, joining as attendee from the Windows 10 app, signed in.
Prepare for an awesome (or awful if you do not like long posts) amount of screenshots!
1. Organiser/Presenter – web
So, this is what I see when I join the meeting on the web – the latest version of Edge.
Gerald is already waiting for me in the lobby:
And this is what I see when I start sharing my screen
When my presentation is shared I take a look at the options (click on … in the bar)
When I look at the people in the meeting I see that most of my “external attendees” have entered as a Guest, except Ellen van Aken (outside of your organisation) who has joined from another Office365-account. I can also invite other people, and mute all of them.
The presenter can also manage people individually, this is independent of web or app. I can make either people from other organizations (business users, in this case) or Guests a presenter or an attendee again, or I can mute or remove a person from the meeting.
I can also pin a person, which means I will always see that person when they have their camera on and nobody is sharing a screen, regardless of who’s talking.
2. Organizer/Presenter – app
What do I see when I join via the desktop app and signed in? I have some more options: meeting notes, background effects, the option for Live Captions and End meeting. (I can also check my audio settings before I join)
Not shown here, because I am sharing a presentation and Kim, Gerald and myself were on the same PC: with the desktop app (and the mobile app) you can see 4 people if you have the camera on, with the web only 1 person. That is where the pinning comes in handy. I can not wait until we will see 9 people!
3. Attendee – web
Gerald is the one attending via Chrome. This is what he sees: a greyed-out Sharing screen, and fewer options in his meeting menu (or whatever that popup behind the … is called)
4. Attendee – app
Kim is using the app without sign-in, as she does not have an Office365 account. What does that look like? She can not share her screen and has one extra option compared to the web attendee. (However, she will see 4 people when there is no screen sharing and people have their webcam on)
5. Attendee – iPhone
The meeting experience on the iPhone is different again. Please note the attendee is not signed in to the app. Top right you see chat and people options. There’s no “share” button, not even greyed out.
When you click the 3 dots in the meeting control bar, you have even fewer options than a regular attendee: just “put me on hold”, “keypad” and “turn off incoming video”.
6. Attendee – Business User
It was a bit of a juggle to get this meeting together with all these people (all of them ME) and all these devices and options. But a second user, with Office365 account and a fully-fledged laptop, was easily available (again: ME at work) so for comparison’s sake: here goes.
The meeting experience is very similar for all attendees, regardless of how they got there.
There is hardly any difference between a Guest (someone without Office365 account, not logged in) and Someone outside your organization (an external business user with Office365 account, logged in). The only difference is that the organizer/presenter can see who’s what.
The role is the largest differentiator – if you are a presenter, you can simply do much more than when you are an attendee. See the differences here.
There are some differences between web and desktop app. The main advantages of the desktop app are
4 people visible instead of 1 (when you have cameras turned on).
This has been a BIG issue in my organization, especially for our therapists doing online group therapy sessions. Most of our therapists have an F3-license, which means they can only do web and only see 1 person. We have suggested they also log in with their phone to see 4 more people. We have now installed the desktop app for them as well but we are still looking for another tool that shows more people. I really can not wait until Microsoft finally rolls out the 3 x 3 view!
The option to blur or change backgrounds.
The option to do a Test call.
Live Captions. As these are currently only available in English, this is not relevant for my organization right now, but it may be a big plus for others.
The iPhone experience is sufficient, but sparse.
My suggestion would be to tell your non-business users to use the web version. I would only suggest to download the app when
it is important to see 4 people
a non-business user is the presenter (so they can adjust their background)
when they join on iPhone.
Joining on the web will probably be easiest for them, especially if they are not very savvy. Perhaps you can just send them the link in an email, instead of the official Outlook invitation, and tell them to open the link in Chrome or Edge (new versions).
Right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business or external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”
In my former post we discussed the email invitation to the Teams meeting for non-business users, and how it can differ depending on device and email client.
This time, we will look at getting to the meeting.
It’s the browser, baby!
In this part of the process the main difference is not in the email programme, but in the browser that people use. I have added a ton of screenshots so you know what participants can expect.
I use an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with up-to-date browsers. This may already be different from what your “consumer” users have. I have no Mac, but I have used an iPad and an iPhone.
In the invitation you will see the link to join the meeting.
1. What happens when you click on the link?
a. Firefox and Internet Explorer
If you are using Firefox or Internet Explorer as your browser, you will get the message that those browsers do not support Teams and a nudge to move to Edge OR to download the app.
b. Edge or Chrome
If you are using Edge (the new one) or Chrome, you will get this nudge to either download the app or to join on the web:
I have occasionally seen this image, which is the new experience, or so I think:
c. Safari on iPad
If you use this, you will get a similar screen as for Internet Explorer or Firefox, except that you will only have “Get the Teams app” as suggestion.
d. Safari on iPhone
If you are on an iPhone you will get a warning that Safari does not support it, and a nudge to download the app.
2. What happens when you join on the web?
a. Edge or Chrome
When you have decided to open Edge or Chrome (if you are using Chrome as your default browser) you will get to this screen. You are requested to enter your name and click “Join Now”. Look at the bottom, where you are again enticed to sign in (if you have a Microsoft account) or to download the app.
After clicking “Join Now” you get into the lobby. As you may know, recently Microsoft changed the default settings for all meetings to “People outside your organization will have to wait in the lobby”. While I agree with this setting, especially now that so many new (and often non-business) people are using Teams, it led to a lot of questions in my organization because we had just been telling everyone that by default everyone could get into your meeting immediately. 😤
If you have a paid subscription to Microsoft365 it is worth signing in, because you will get the full web experience. The link to the meeting is accessible for everyone, so you can just sign in even if your Microsoft365 account has a different email address than the one that you have been invited with.
3. What happens when you download the app?
a. Laptop (Windows 10)
Downloading and opening the app can take a few minutes, so you may want to warn your newbies to start early or do a test run well before the meeting.
Once you have the app installed, and you click the meeting link from your email, you can use the “launch it now” button or your browser will ask you to open the link in the app. Internet Explorer just opens the app.
Once the app has opened, you will be requested to add your name and click “Join Now”, like when you join on the web. Please note that the app has two extra features:
You can enter the meeting with a blurred or custom background (the toggle between camera and microphone)
You can check your microphone by clicking on “PC Mic and Speakers” and then selecting “Test Call”. (Functionality that I know and ❤ from Skype)
If I download the app on my iPhone, give permission to use the microphone, and click that horrible long link from my email, it will ask me if I want to open the link with Teams and then I get this message (Time to meet):
After entering your name and clicking Participate you will get the lobby message, which looks similar to the ones above.
On my iPad the “Open in Teams?” message did not happen so I could not make the switch from my email to the app. I was also forced to sign in with an account, which is not the purpose of this exercise. Anyone out here who had more luck?
Copying the link to the meeting and pasting it into the Edge app on my iPad worked. It switched over to the app and I could enter as a guest, with the same image as above for iPhone (but wider).
What have I found so far?
Your non-business participants do not need to have a Microsoft account to participate.
You do not need to download the app on your PC, as you can participate on the web if you use Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome as your browser.
Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox can not be used for a Teams meeting.
If you do not have a Microsoft account (or if you do not sign in with it), you will have to enter a name when you log on, and you will participate as a Guest.
The Teams mobile app is a must if you want to take part from an iPhone.
Both the mobile and desktop apps may take a few minutes to download and install, so always ask your participants to download and test-drive well in advance, or start at least 10 minutes before the meeting.
The desktop app will give you more options such as the custom backgrounds and the option to do a test call.
If you have an external presenter or discussion leader, strongly suggest to use a laptop and download the desktop app as the extra options will be very useful especially for them.
Teams may have originally been intended as a business-to-business meeting and collaboration tool, it is now, in COVID-19 times, used heavily for all kinds of gatherings. The education sector is using it big time, my own organization is using it temporarily as a group therapy session tool, and I use it to meet with my fellow “citizen activists” who want to keep our lovely home town a great place to live in for real people.
So, right now Teams is being used by many non-business people, and I have had a lot of questions about “how it works” for non-business external users, as in: “what do they get and what do they have to do in order to participate?”
The fun part when you use Teams for “consumers’ is the variety of systems that people use – devices, browsers, email clients. So, I tried a few things, starting from my own Office365/Microsoft365 tenant.
I sent this to various online emailclients: Outlook.com, Gmail.com, Yahoo.com
I opened the mailboxes with various browsers on laptop and the Outlook one on Iphone and Ipad.
I looked at the invitation and accepted the meeting (where possible).
What does the invitation look like?
What have I found so far?
Do not expect a response message if you are inviting external non-business users. I did not receive any responses except from the Microsoft365 user, even though I did accept the meeting on Gmail and Outlook.com.
Invitations to Gmail often go into the Spam box, especially when I used the “hide meeting attendees” option. You may want to check with your externals that they have seen the invitation.
Check if the meeting is on the right date and time on the receiver’s end. If people have their mailbox on a different timezone, they may want to adjust it.
Or in case of Gmail, do they realize that the time is in UTC and what UTC means?
Tell people that the invitation may move out of their inbox after accepting or declining it and that they can find it in their Deleted Items if they want to keep it.
Sending an invitation does not mean that the date and time are added to the Calendar option of the email client automatically. In some case you need to download the .ics file (which not everybody may understand) or specify to the email client that invitations should always be added to your calendar.
“Do not forward” appears to work only within Microsoft email – the option to forward is greyed out in Outlook, but the emails sent to Yahoo and Gmail could be forwarded and the recipient could enter the meeting. ☹
Please note that I have an up-to-date Windows 10 laptop with current versions of browsers – be aware that non-business users may have different setups and different versions!
Do not assume!
In other words, do not assume that everything will work in the same way as with your external business contacts. Your “consumer” audience has a much larger variety in devices, mail clients, updates and browsers than your business contacts (who in many cases use Outlook, if not the full Microsoft 365suite). Your “consumer” audience may also be less exposed to formal meetings and be not as tech savvy – or be more savvy with other systems than Microsoft365.